recraftable shoes

Red Wing Boot Restoration

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My first experience with Red Wing boots came after a moment of blinding pain.  The boss had just cut a piece of cast iron pipe held steady with my foot.  The snapped piece of pipe rebounded against my ankle.  After swelling went down, we visited Vern to inquire into some boots.

red wing boot restoration jim sergovicVern operated the local Red Wing Store;  he kept a supply of discarded boots for the discerning budget-minded tradesperson.  Ten dollars later, I had safely protected my ankles, looked stylish, and felt like a professional.

My sixth pair were purchased  over a decade ago.  As a “second pair”, they avoided the nastiest of abuse.  None the less, after a dozen years, the heels were crumbling and holes had appeared in the soles.

Without visible stitching around the lower, I assumed they were not recraftable.  A call to Red Wing proved me wrong.  After debating resole vs replacement, I went with factory restoration for my 953s.

Red Wing cuts off the old sole with a band saw, cleans it up with pliers and Dremel, and sews on a new welt. The boots then go onto original factory machinery, where new soles are poured in place, directly bonded to the boot. The Chevron Super-Sole® is a urethane which goes into the mold as a liquid and hardens in about ten seconds.  Finally, the leather is conditioned and new laces expertly laced over and under.  The lace tips line up, a skill which eludes me to this day.

It was about two weeks roundtrip from handoff at USPS to delivery by UPS.  Not new boots, but my boots. Same stains and cuts, broken in to my feet.  About half the cost of new boots.

Alden Unlined Flexwelt Loafers

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alden shoes jserg photographer 1SUMMER TWILIGHT WALKS!  Fresh cut grass and kids playing.  Steaks sizzling and popping over hot charcoal.  Dawn ’till dusk, dirty and barefoot.  Shoes?  Only on Sunday.

Speaking of shoes, did we mention how cheap I am regarding footwear?  We discussed Alden Cordovan Loafers when my favorite $120 dress shoes fell apart after only a year.  Long conversations with Kenny over leather, insoles, lining, vamps, and welts produced one firm conviction.  The cheapest shoe is the best shoe.  He then opened Sherman Brother’s inventory to my perusal.

Wow, what nice material!  Hey, these are absolutely the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn.  But Kenny, did you notice the price?  $400?  $600?

Who doesn’t love a great salesman!  Kenny Sherman brought it all down to my level.  You buy a shoe that is designed and manufactured to last years after it becomes your “favorite”.  Instead of falling apart, it is just getting started.  After three-to-five years, your cost is identical to an average shoe.  Another year or so, and you’re MAKING MONEY!  And when something fails, this shoe can be recrafted.  SOLD!

After Kenny hooked me with superior dress shoes, he appealed to my vanity.  “Jim, you seem the type of guy who likes wearing loafers without socks”.  Yup, quietly wealthy.  Tennis camp, dinner at the Club.  That’s me.  Who doesn’t like the feel of leather against skin?  I invested in my first pair of Alden Unlined Flexwelt Loafers.

These are, literally, the closest thing to going barefoot.  Your foot will sing the praises of superior American craftsmanship.  New England at it’s finest!  Easily surpasses their chowder!  Skin soft suede.  It is no wonder a Special Order of these takes months to get.  Asia’s appetite for quality American shoes is voracious.

If you want a three season (four, in some locations) shoe comfortable as a fine leather glove, visit Kenny.  Or someone with his passion.  Get your feet accurately measured.  Slip into a pair of America’s finest summer shoe.   Alden’s Suede Unlined Flexwelt Loafers!

Socks?  We don’t need no stinkin’ socks!

Red Wing Work Boots

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Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 5.30.17 PMTHE ROLLICKING ’20s were a grand time in Philadelphia.  Luxury “flats” stretched entire blocks.  Inside these aristocratic apartments, room after room unfolded in a maze. As an apprentice plumber, a kid in a man’s body, I once found myself on the 8th floor above 15th and Spruce, snapping a piece of 6″ cast iron pipe. We were replacing part of a cracked stack in just such a grande dame near the Academy of Music. 

Snap! Crack! Ouch! . . . wait, what happened? The pipe jumped forward a funny way, and smacked my ankle.  The boss, grinning through his cigarette smoke, christened me Hoppy, chuckling at the swelling.  A few minutes later, he promised we’d visit Vern at the boot store.  My health benefits were about to kick in.

Vern ran the local Red Wing Boot Store.  For ten bucks, Vern handed me a used but serviceable pair of boots in my size from out back.  I was now officially a plumber, with the boots to match.  8″ of leather protected my ankles.  Sturdy soles protected my arches in the trenches, where I practiced the Art of Digging.  I’ve been buying Red Wing exclusively ever since.

There is a city called Red Wing, in Minnesota.  The heart of a country engrossed with mining, logging and farming needed the Right Boots.  In 1905, local shoe merchant Charles Beckman, along with 14 investors, opened a shoe company to develop work boots to fill industry needs.  A new standard for excellence was born!

My current pair was bought as closeouts a decade ago, and finally put into service a few years back.  After Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 2.48.37 PMthe heels became mushy, I belatedly discovered these boots were not recraftable.  New boots looked to be in order.  However, a shoe genius located, at all places, the corner of 15th and Spruce, cut off the heels and glued on new ones for $40, saving me a thick stack of crisp Yankee dollars. 

Red Wing is a city in Goodhue County, Minnesota, United States, on the Mississippi River. The population was 16,459 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Goodhue County.