Monday, January 10, 2011

kid builds company out of erector set

Don't you just love how the Wall Street Journal has shrugged off its green-eyeshade image and embraced the world north of Maiden Lane? Today's front page features a story on the (remember?) Brannock foot-measurer which is being knocked off in (surprise) China. There's a quote from someone with a job I didn't know existed--shoe historian. And an interesting tale of how the company began: Charles Brannock was the son of a shoe salesman who began developing the contraption while still a student at Syracuse University. He applied for a patent with a prototype made out of erector-set pieces. Business took off during World War II when the government contracted a version that measured both feet at once, which sped up the process of distributing footwear to soldiers. Seems like great fodder for erector-set's agency. See what you learn reading stuff besides trades?


California Girl said...

This is a nostalgic image. I remember my mmother or father taking me to the local Stride Rite for my shoes. In the late 20's, Dad worked as a copy writer/paste-up guy for Florsheim in Chicago. He insisted on well fitting shoes. That device always fascinated me. Our shoe salesman was the same fellow all the time. It was his career. It was nice.

I don't recall the last time I had my feet measured or my shoes fitted; not in a department store, certainly not in a DSW.

I measure my own if I find the device but I miss the personal touch. Never knew the name or the story of it and that is indeed interesting. Thanks.

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Stride Rites! I remember. I think we were lucky to have been the Brannock generation instead of the one that came before--as I recall, older kids had had their feet x-rayed. By shoe salesmen! Can you imagine the liability issues today?

California Girl said...

You aren't going to believe this but I'm revisiting this post 7 comments (after reading your two newest posts) and I remember the name of my Stride Rite salesman: Sam.

I can see him plain as day. Says something about the brand recall of good old fashioned service.

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Wow, California Girl. Great recall. And, of course, you are right. Sam the Shoe Salesman is alive in a consumer's mind all these years later in a way that a Zappos the Website can't hope to replicate.