South Surrey’s Norm Bradley has patented sandals for people who need orthotics, and will be asking Dragon’s Den hosts to lend their support. (Tracy Holmes photo)

South Surrey’s Norm Bradley has patented sandals for people who need orthotics, and will be asking Dragon’s Den hosts to lend their support. (Tracy Holmes photo)

South Surrey senior hopes to lure Dragons with comfort

Norm Bradley to pitch orthotic-friendly sandals April 26 in Toronto

South Surrey senior Norm Bradley is getting ready to set foot in the Dragons’ Den.

And it just so happens that when he does, his pitch will be all about feet – providing a summer option for people who use orthotics, to be precise.

“It was just an issue that came up, there’s nothing else available,” Bradley told Peace Arch News, of how he turned a shoe-market gap that was affecting him into a business that he estimates some 500 million people across Canada and the U.S. may be interested in.

Bradley, 71, said it all started about two years ago, during a trip to see his daughter in Cabo, Mexico.

The senior typically wears orthotics in his shoes, but Bradley said he switched to memory-foam sandals because his feet were getting too hot under the Mexico sun. He soon regretted the decision.

“After two days, I got such severe foot pain,” he said.

Determined to remain in sandals, he took his orthotic inserts out of his runners and taped them to his sandals.

“People got a big kick out of it,” he said of the do-it-yourself look.

But the idea stuck, and on returning home Bradley set to coming up with a sandal designed for people who wear orthotics.

He received his first shipment of his Cabo Comfort footwear – which have a patented pocket in the sole specifically for personal orthotics – in December. They’re now available online and in three retail stores, and Bradley says interest in the sandals has been growing.

Later this month, he’ll ask the Dragons to step into the business, during an April 26 audition in Toronto.

“My pitch is I’m a 71-year-old late-blooming entrepreneur,” the retired foundry manager and metallurgical engineer said.

Bradley didn’t want to publicize the deal that he’s going to propose during the audition, and said he’s signed a non-disclosure agreement that prevents him from sharing the outcome of the audition prior to the show going on-air in September.

He believes Dragons Arlene Dickinson and Jim Treliving are most likely to be interested, but said whatever happens, the experience will be positive.

“It doesn’t matter. The companies that go on and don’t make a deal, the business triples,” Bradley said. “Most of them say, the day after it goes on TV, they can’t keep up.”