I think, the stool is not for shoe storage, but for shoe care items (brushes, polishes etc.) The idea is, you sit on the stool, while you polish your shoes, and rest the tools on the pull-out tray.
For $ 1,000 you cannot buy that crocodile/alligator hide. This hide (covering three sides of the cube) is huge and must have come from a very old animal. The price of a skin will increase disproportionately with the size as large hides are extremely rare.
I hear you but when you see the size of some of these Aussie "salties" (salt water crocs) - which reportedly have the best croc hides in the world - you have to wonder why this is the case.