Anniversary Sale 2017
President and CEO
On Friday April 7th...
...we begin the 2017 edition of our Anniversary Sale event. This year marks 95 years since Allen Edmonds was founded in April 1922 by Elbert Allen in a small town north of Milwaukee. And it’s 95 years that we've been handcrafting great shoes on the shores of Lake Michigan, now as one of the last remaining American manufacturers of shoes. That diehard longevity is really something to celebrate!
Less than 2% of the shoes sold in America last year were made in this country. But we're still at it, at higher volumes and with more shoemakers than ever before. We've recently added a third production line to our Port Washington factory. It's led by a great guy, originally from Maine, named Steve Sudsbury. I love to hear Sudsy's Mainer accent but it's more fun to see him golf. He whips the club head like the Bible hero David throwing his slingshot at Goliath -- and it works. He's a good player. But I most like to see Sudsy make shoes. If you've bought cordovan or special make-up shoes recently, they were made on Sudsy's line and under his watchful eye.
It was dreamed up by Colin Hall
Our outstanding SVP of Marketing (and my first hire after I arrived in 2008). It's a great book, filled with personal stories of what Allen Edmonds means to impressive "AE Men" like President Bush 41 who described in a handwritten note his closet full of AEs, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper who wrote to tell me he was "proud to be an AE Man", and bestselling author Michael Lewis ("Blindside", "Moneyball", "The Big Short") who wrote a story for us about his close connection to Allen Edmonds and how we helped him better understand his wife's shoe affinity. There were many other people, not so famous, telling their stories in the book -- my favorites were a senior business executive who worried about how frigid water might wreck his AE shoes as he took the "crash landing ready position" on Capt. Sullenberger's flight that landed on the East River; a Zookeeper we called "Elephant Man" whose elephant ate one of his AE shoes but, ah, well, passed it in good enough shape to be cleaned up and put back in the zookeeper's rotation (how's that for quality construction and materials?!); and an American patriot who keeps his AEs on display in his home as a memorial to the fallen, after he wore them on Sept. 12, 2001 at Ground Zero.
Three new stories
Just in the last three weeks, I've received more stories from our impressive customer base. There was a letter accompanying an original watercolor painting of a young boy and his sister playing "grown up", which was sent to me by the painter, their grandfather, a respected surgeon in Texas. Grandpa wanted me to know that his decades-long association with AE was celebrated in the shoes his grandson was trying on and the Allen Edmonds box painted in the corner.
Another photo was of three men in their twenties, a man about 50 and a man in his seventies, standing shoulder to shoulder and smiling big with one foot forward. This shot was sent to me by the wife of the oldest gentleman, who wanted me to see all three generations of Allen Edmonds devotees who had come together for one of the younger men's wedding. It reminded me of the attached wedding day photo I took of our own son-in-law and his groomsmen last summer.
The third story was one of those serendipities that make work travel bearable and life fun. I sat on a plane next to a stylish investments professional who was wearing our shoes. Sometimes I keep to myself on planes -- doing emails, reading the news or catching up on three decades of lost sleep. But Justin was wearing our shoes so I thanked him for the support and we started to talk. He turned out to be a big golf nut and we swapped some favorite days in the sun. Then he showed me this photo of a pair of bronzed shoes that he keeps in his house in honor of his own grandfather, a mentor who was known in Milwaukee circles for being a great guy, a business success and a fastidious shiner of his Allen Edmonds shoes.
Back to the Anniversary Sale that starts next week
We have some terrific new offerings and some amazing prices. The Cornwallis style has been one of bestsellers since its introduction two years ago and it's priced for the Sale at $150 off, and in some new colors, too.
They’ll look perfect with a Midland Ave belt in the complementary color, a clear advantage of Allen Edmonds designing both the shoes and the belts to match.
And since our Anniversary Sale occurs in Spring it means “the season of going sockless” is upon us. The only question is, what shoe to wear? Do you go with the earthy tones of the Sedona, the buttery soft suede of the Sea Island (my favorite) or the versatility of a driver like the Interstate 90 or Daytona?
Then there's our great spring apparel which offers the 95 year old and still unsurpassed Allen Edmonds promise of incredible quality for accessible pricing to equal unparalleled value. When I was a kid growing up in Minnesota, a warm day could turn cold in a minute. It wasn't much different in college in the Bay Area, where a very hot afternoon could quickly turn much cooler at sunset. Those days, and my beloved late mother's scolding, taught me that you can remove a layer of clothing if you want, but you can’t put on what you don’t have with you. Heeding that advice I plan to pick up some extra layers that you'll see in our catalog. I especially like our new garment dyed merino wool sweaters, the handy Utility Jacket and the sport coats look great for any dress/casual occasion. At the top of my list, however, is our new Packable Vest. It’s not only fashionable and cuts the wind nicely, it also cleverly converts into a small tote that can be attached to your belt in back, ready for the next change in temperature.
Another item that brings me back a few years is the new Espresso Leather Bag Collection. One of my fondest memories of my time in Italy (and there are many) is of my morning cappuccino made by a very cool guy named Settimo. Italians take their coffee seriously. There are no drive-through windows at the sidewalk cafes and no one carries a thermos around with them. When they drink coffee, they take their time. And the coffee they drink is of course espresso roasted. Rich, dark and silky smooth. Those days come back to me when I look at the bags of our Espresso Collection. Meticulously handcrafted using luxuriously-tanned American steer hides, they have a coat of natural buff wax that gives them the same intense, rich, dark luster I remember so well. I can almost smell the aroma of a creamy espresso wafting from Settimo's machine now.
~ Paul Grangaard
President and CEO