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Discussion: Custom shoes

in: Orienteering; Gear & Toys

Mar 9, 2016 8:19 PM # 
JimBaker:
Does anyone know of companies that make custom-built running shoes? My current cobbler has become erratic.
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Mar 9, 2016 8:34 PM # 
Pink Socks:
Google found this.
Mar 9, 2016 9:27 PM # 
JimBaker:
Yeah, that's the one that has had my most recent order since fall 2014, and for months has been saying (if I can reach them) "yeah, I think I saw your shoes, they'll be shipping soon".
Mar 10, 2016 2:31 AM # 
jjcote:
Want me to walk over there and lay a beatin' on 'em?

(What ever happened to Scarfo?)
Mar 10, 2016 4:35 AM # 
JimBaker:
Scarfo retired. (Hersey retired too, selling the company to the current owner after training him.) A gentle inquiry in person might be helpful at this point, if you have the time.
Mar 10, 2016 11:01 AM # 
jjcote:
I'll see what I can do.
Mar 10, 2016 10:09 PM # 
JimBaker:
Thanks.
Mar 11, 2016 3:44 AM # 
jjcote:
Are they already paid for?
Mar 11, 2016 7:09 PM # 
JimBaker:
Yes, as I recall.
Mar 15, 2016 10:35 PM # 
jjcote:
Attempt #1: I stopped by today not expecting that there would be anybody around since it was 6 PM, and in fact there wasn't. Pretty sketchy looking joint, plenty of large windows providing a view into what really doesn't look like an active business, more like a crowded room where somebody is storing old machinery, a lot of empty cardboard boxes, and other junk. A closer look revealed what appeared to be a couple of pairs of new shoes on a table (maybe one was yours!), and there was also a large stack of what I'm guessing was incoming repairs, unopened boxes addressed to them. I may get a chance to stop by during business hours at the end of next week, and I can also have my mother keep an eye out to see if there's ever anybody around. Stayed tuned, everybody.
Mar 16, 2016 1:18 AM # 
JimBaker:
Thanks JJ.
Mar 21, 2016 6:12 PM # 
JimBaker:
Well, just managed to reach him by phone, and he promises shipping within a week (again). I'll see how that goes.
Oct 9, 2016 1:14 AM # 
jjcote:
Possible news coming. Update within a week.
Oct 9, 2016 5:15 AM # 
JimBaker:
Thanks.
Oct 9, 2016 12:32 PM # 
jjcote:
I have been face to face with Steve. For our first encounter, I was polite and did not bring any weapons.
Oct 9, 2016 3:14 PM # 
JimBaker:
Any indications that he'll return my lasts (and maybe even my money)? I assume that he's not making shoes anymore? Any word on what the story is? Maybe the note from my lawyer had an effect.
Oct 14, 2016 8:10 PM # 
jjcote:
It took a while, but success at "last"! (haha, sorry...)

Sometimes you need to apply a little "personal attention" (and some strategic untruths) to provide the needed leverage.

I'll ship them out as soon as I find a box big enough for Jim's giant shoes. :-)
Oct 15, 2016 1:25 AM # 
JimBaker:
Thanks JJ!
Oct 16, 2016 12:14 PM # 
kissy:
Ah, success! I love it.
Oct 16, 2016 1:14 PM # 
chitownclark:
Nice looking shoes. Hope they're as comfortable as they look. Would you ever try a second order at that place? If not, what is Plan B?

And J-J, all that effort seems to have cut short your other activities lately. Hope you have a chance for a few more posts this year.
Oct 16, 2016 1:26 PM # 
jjcote:
I don't think this was the first order that Jim placed with Hersey, I got the impression that they've made a lot of shoes for him in the past. The place does have an F rating from the BBB, though. I've encountered other businesses where people are great at the craft they do, but not good at running a business.

Shaking down local merchants hasn't cut into my flying time, though other things (orienteering in particular) have. That's the way I have my priorities aligned. I did go flying yesterday, but I won't have time for a blog post until later this week.
Oct 16, 2016 1:33 PM # 
JimBaker:
Plan B was Shoe School, where I learned to make shoes myself. I'll post a picture of a pair I made (although it doesn't fit, as I didn't have time to customize the lasts). Quite a bit of gear has been purchased; more on the way.
Oct 16, 2016 8:03 PM # 
ken:
Ok, I have to ask...what size?
Oct 17, 2016 2:22 AM # 
jjcote:
I don't have them in front of me, but let's see how well I can remember from the conversations we've had. 13? But the oddball thing is E width at the heel and EEEEE width up front, right
Oct 17, 2016 6:08 AM # 
JimBaker:
Well, the standard lasts that seem to be the right length are 11's. Width is wider than EEEEEE at the front, E at the heel. So, no way to get off the shelf shoes.

Having used my shoes this weekend on the Petrified Forest's "ball bearing" badlands, and various other hikes and runs in the past couple years, I'm glad to have some fresh shoes finally coming.
Oct 17, 2016 12:47 PM # 
jjcote:
Is there a service that will scan your feet and use a 3D printer to make custom lasts? Seems like a straightforward process, and if that doesn't exist, maybe you should create it.
Oct 17, 2016 12:48 PM # 
jjcote:
Oh, a quick search shows that there is.
Oct 17, 2016 4:52 PM # 
JimBaker:
The person who taught the Shoe School created such a system. He says it's harder than people tend to think, and requires more knowledge about feet, lasts, shoe making than most who attempt it have. (My father started on such a concept a few decades ago. )
Oct 17, 2016 5:38 PM # 
jjcote:
Yeah, that was the first link I found. It does seem like something that requires knowledge of the existing process, but it also seems like an excellent tool for implementing that process. Which is why he did it, of course. The initial advantage that occurred to me was the ability to have a backup. Whatever process was created to create your wooden lasts, for example, if there were a scan of them, it wouldn't matter what moldering burlap sack they're in now, you could could just print out a new pair.
Oct 18, 2016 1:09 AM # 
JimBaker:
Yes, a useful tool for those reasons and others (like making different kinds of lasts for different kinds of shoes). If he finds an investor that he trusts, he'll license it, but wants a fair bit of money. He's old enough not to want to do it himself.
Oct 20, 2016 2:19 PM # 
chitownclark:
BTW Jim, I have had similar shoe-fitting problems: forefoot much wider than the heel in 'normal' shoe sizes. I could always buy shoes that were plenty long; but they were seldom wide enough in front. And I'd develop bunions and corns between my toes from the squeezing and chafing.

It took me a long time to figure out. But when I was training for marathons and doing 60-70 mile weeks (the good old days!), I eventually became tired of the pain and injury. So out of desperation, I stopped lacing the bottom 2-3 eyelets of each shoe. And cut those long laces in half, reserving the remaining provided lace for spares...an extra bonus for us frugal folk.

So I was only lacing the shoe over the instep. Not down to the forefoot or to squeeze the toes. The shoe expanded slightly in this area, and my toes and forefoot were much more comfortable as a result. You might try it to see if this adaption might work for you. Good luck.
Oct 20, 2016 10:39 PM # 
peggyd:
This is a remarkably interesting thread.
I don't know why.
Oct 21, 2016 2:52 AM # 
JimBaker:
One problem with using too long shoes is that they're designed to bend in the wrong place.

I've tried various accommodations with off the shelf shoes, but the downer in size/shape is too great. Custom shoes have a sweet fit. I received a pair of boots just before hiking the Chilkoot Trail, and they were fine for four days of hiking, no breaking in needed.
Oct 21, 2016 3:14 AM # 
JimBaker:
The shoes I made:

https://flic.kr/p/NpHvgT

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