Visiting Zlin

· by Peter · Read in about 2 min · (351 words) ·

I'm reading, rather listening as I have an audiobook, "Gottland" by Mariusz Szczygieł. It's about interesting people and facts from Czech Republic. Unfortunately, despite it has been translated into many languages, English is not one of them. Really good read. I've learned about many things from Czech culture I've got no idea before. First story from the book is about Bata's family and begins with description of life of Tomas Bata. Great entrepreneur. And as I don't like people of business, I found them shallow and greedy, Mr. Bata and his family is really interesting. He was not only a businessman, but also a visionary and patriot. Thanks to him and his successors Zlin flourished and so did people of Zlin, and rest of Czech Republic as well.

So I've decided to make a trip to his hometown and to see what survived from his empire after WWII and Soviet's occupation. There is still this big shoe store with walls made of glass, quite impressive. And there is Bata's museum. There is one story in the book about Bata which I don't like very much. Bata had big factory and was producing shoes on mass scale, so many shoemakers gone bankrupt as they couldn't compete with Bata's prices. One of such people when lost all his money committed suicide along with his wife and child. But before he did it he sent his workshop to Mr. Bata with a letter that he has ruined him. Tomas Bata wasn't very touched apparently and ordered to place this workshop in the museum with description "that's how shoes were made before me". I think I've found it in the museum and you can see it below.
Shoes workshop

There is another story about Bata which I've learned when I was studying Management at University. He sent two employees to Africa to find out if there is market for shoes. After some time two telegrams came. First said "Nobody here wears shoes, absolutely no market", second was "Nobody here wears shoes, big opportunity. Send shoes asap!". It was real pleasure to see the place where he operated.