The Shoe Snob Blog

July 2, 2018

Written by , Posted in Educational, Industry, News

PET PEEVES IN THE SHOE INDUSTRY PART 8: THINKING THAT CEDAR SHOES TREES ARE THE END ALL BE ALL

Image courtesy of A Fine Pair of Shoes

I am not going to lie here and pretend I haven’t done this and this is how I know that the issue at hand is all crap, but the truth is that when a salesman tells you that Cedar shoe trees are the best possible wood for shoe trees, this is a flat-out lie. I know this because I have been that salesman and also came to understand why this shopping occurrence is so prevalent, but really only in the US. Let’s break it down and explain why.

First and foremost, let me tell all those in the US that Cedar shoe trees are not nearly as popular in the rest of the world. And certainly not used nor sold by the very high-end makers. Cedar is a cheap wood because there is so much of it, especially in the US. Hence why it is always sold at bargain prices and at places that are large i.e. department stores. And if you ever really paid attention carefully you would notice that it chips off super easily. So why do the salesmen swear by it? Well, let’s paint a picture.

Imagine you are a shoe tree maker in America that has just created shoe trees. You know that there is a huge abundance of your raw material and that you can get it on the cheap because you have the ability to buy in bulk and the supply is endless. You then make your product for pennies on the dollar and then go to sell them to the shops. As any natural born lying salesmen would do, they are going to claim that their product is ‘the best.’ And you want this lie to be soaked into your clients head so that they keep coming back to this endless supply. You create a story about absorption and smell (yes it has a smell but it doesn’t last forever and it won’t help with people that truly have stinky feet problems), in order to add to this lie about being ‘the best wood ever.’ You convince your clients of this and they pass it on to their clients and then you have a whole country believing this grand lie. But now it is so ingrained into the minds of people that you have won the battle and can forever produce this cheap product that has a never-ending supply, pass it off as the holy grail of wood and live happily ever after.  And no one is going to question you because it has become a tradition in the culture and what fathers tell their sons that they need in their first pair of dress shoes. That idea then sticks into the mind of that young man until he becomes his own man and he then does the same thing to his son. And the cycle forever lives on. This is what happened in the US and why ONLY the US sells Cedar shoe trees the way that they do.

Alderwood shoe trees by The Shoe Snob

Nowhere in Europe does this. In Europe, many makers are using limewood, alderwood, beechwood, maplewood etc. as no one there believes this about Cedarwood as it is not so prevalent like in the US hence this lack of salesmanship selling lies about it. Not to mention that in Europe, working on commission is far less common and why salesmen are not trying to stuff every accessory into your face in order to grow not only their commission but also their UPT figures (units per transaction). The places that are selling them are either trying to buy cheap and sell high for branding or buy cheap and sell quantity for revenues. Department stores usually are the route of quantity and brands passing off crap as gold, are usually the ones trying to sell high for something not worth it and ride that lying wave of cedar being the best.

Is there a ‘best wood’ for shoe trees?? No, there is not. The best wood, in my opinion, is the one that doesn’t fall apart. But I cannot say if beech is better than lime, or if either is better than alder or maple. But I do know that cedar shoe trees chip like crazy and if you are an owner of them I am sure you can contest to that.

If something is cheap, there is a reason. Cheap and ‘best’ will never be in the same region so when someone tries to sell this idea to you, it is simply too good to be true.

Stop believing the hype. If you want cheap shoe trees, just say so. But don’t go around saying that you use cedar shoe trees because they are the best. Because they are not….and never will be!

Limewood shoe trees by Gaziano & Girling