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Red Wing Shoe Co. Is Flying High



Flying High Again?


The Red Wing Shoe Company of Red Wing, Minnesota has toughed out difficult times and is rebounding after slogging through last year.

Red Wing Shoe is growing in an industry where more than 95% of footwear production has moved to low-cost Asia or Latin America.

A few years ago, J Crew CEO Mickey Drexler, visited Red Wing and ordered 600 pairs. They sold out in 3 days. Crew ordered 6,000 more pair. “We made them and got them there in five days.” said Red Wing Shoe President Dave Murphy. Impressive. “You can’t do that from China.” Murphy added. Well said.

Red Wing Shoe is perhaps the poster child of the “home-sourcing” concept. Home-sourcing is about adjusted-time deliveries that allow retailers to keep leaner inventories on-hand. This keeps costs and exposure down for the retailers. When retailers buy from Asia there’s usually one chance to order. So the order quantity – down to the style, color and size better be right. And it usually isn’t. As a result retailers buy more “to be on the safe side” then inevitably end up liquidating their overstock. The markdowns hurt margins. The sale priced items dilute or compete with the sales of full-priced product and there’s a pretty simple recipe for awful retailing.

I went pheasant hunting Saturday. I did what I always do. I laced up a pair of Wingshooters from the Irish Setter line of Red Wing. My Wingshooters served me well…even better than my shot.

Mickey Drexler was in St Paul a few weeks back and blasted down to Red Wing. His mission was not to buy more boots but to encourage management to open a retail store in Manhattan.

If Red Wings are good enough for Mickey Drexler they certainly are good enough for me!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 11/26/2010 10:13 am

    Usually I do not write on posts, but I would like to say that this blog really convinced me to do so! Thanks, very good article.


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