Sign of the times: Shoe polish

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by Rosalind, Feb 28, 2009.

  1. Rosalind

    Rosalind Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2007
    A sign of the vanishing middle class, I think.

    Back when I was a kid, in the olden days, most people had only a couple pairs of shoes: Everyday, Formal Dress, and rain/snow boots. These shoes were intended to last quite a while, and as such, you were expected to maintain them and polish them. You bought tins of Kiwi polish, saddle soap and mink oil, and when they got scratches or scuffs, you polished them. A good pair of shoes was expected to last an adult several years, so you were encouraged by the household women to pick sensible shoes, i.e. low-heeled not-too-flashy in neutral colors.

    DH and I both grew up in this era, and we have had the same tins of saddle soap, mink oil and polish for some time, and it was finally time to purchase some more. You'd think this would be a simple task, as polish and stuff used to be found at every five and dime.

    Nope. Most of the five-and-dime stores have been pushed out of the market by drugstore chains, which do not, apparently, carry shoe polish. Neither did Wal-mart or Target, although this was sort of understandable given that they don't really have shoes that are good enough to polish. Neither, however, did the mall shoe or leather goods stores--and you'd really think that they would have such things. They had silicone sprays for waterproofing, no polish.

    Finally found basic colors of polish and mink oil at a very old-fashioned local grocery. Not the every-color-of-shoes selection that I recall from childhood, of course. The manager sort of shook her head, saying she didn't get many people asking anymore and they probably wouldn't bother to re-stock. The kiddies staffing the other stores didn't even know what shoe polish was, mostly.

    Thinking on the various shoe stores I had observed, it finally dawned on me that
    1. Most shoes for mass consumption these days are not made to be polished--fabric or plastic or polywhatever. They are also made so cheap that there is really no point to polishing them even if they are leather: the soles and heels (or your aching toes) will wear out before they get appreciably scuffed. They're made to be worn and thrown away.

    2. Of the people who can afford good shoes worth polishing, who care about the state of their footwear and purchase sensible shoes, they can also afford to hire someone else to do their polishing for them. They don't spend their nights smelling toluene from the shoes drying at the foot of the bed.

    The middle class, who used to buy good shoes meant to last and then cared for the things themselves, are vanishing to the point that stocking store shelves with retail products intended for their consumption has become a thing of the past.

    I swear, I fear for the day when I go to a grocery store and cannot buy flour because stores only stock ready-made bread and cake and expect that poor people all eat at McDonald's anyway...[​IMG]
  2. OrpingtonManor

    OrpingtonManor Building the Castle

    Nov 15, 2008
    Martinez, CA
    I still polish my shoes. I have several pairs of sensible shoes. I spent moderately good money on them exactly because I was getting poorer. I decided that I should only own things that could see me through many years. This might be counterintuitive, but I figure that if I can buy one pair of shoes for $75 that will last 10 years, that makes more sense than buying a pair each year for $20. I find my polish at the local drugstore. I have black, brown and cordovan, but they also carry saddle soap and mink oil. Maybe the "greening" of America will bring us back to these values.
  3. debilorrah

    debilorrah The Great Guru of Yap Premium Member

    We have to go to a cobbler to get that stuff now. [​IMG]
  4. conradpdx

    conradpdx Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2009
    On my couch
    Might wanna try places like that sell high quality work boots like Redwing and Danner. Might not have a specific color you're looking for but I know Danner carries polish since they are a preferred boot for the military (for some they are standard issue, for others they are acceptable for others if the soldier wants to buy them). And I believe Redwing does too.

    I go through work boots pretty quick, but I still oil mine every couple weeks to keep them lasting.
  5. cluckychick

    cluckychick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 29, 2008
    South of KCMO
    When I was a child my dad paid me to polish his shoes. We have an electric brush that polishes them and then buffs. Replaceable head on it. It was cool. I think I made a quarter or so. Still have that old polisher that belonged to my gpa and it still works. It hasn't polished any shoes in a good many years though.
  6. CityGirlintheCountry

    CityGirlintheCountry Green Eggs and Hamlet

    Jul 7, 2007
    Middle TN
    I still haul out my shoes and polish them. I used to watch my dad do all of our shoes when I was a kid. It's one of my favorite memories. When I went off to college he made me a shoe shine box of supplies. I still have the rag and buff brush and use them on my leather shoes. I get my tins of polish at the grocery store too. Granted the tins will last me for a while. [​IMG]
    Shoe polishing is one of my favorite chores. I find it to be very soothing.
  7. Reinbeau

    Reinbeau The Teapot Underground Premium Member

    I polish my shoes, and I've seen shoe polish and accessories for sale in the local Shaw's and Stop & Shop, they've always had them.
  8. Stumpy

    Stumpy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2008
    Cluckychick, I know that polisher! I wonder who ended up with it....

    I'm married to a shoe-polishing man. He's like the shoe police, but I don't mind since he polishes mine, too.
  9. conny63malies

    conny63malies Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 22, 2008
    Annetta Kentucky
    My DH has the art of polishing shoes/boots perfected. He does the whole spit polish and heat up the polish and use that stuff that makes heels look like new. he is very picky when it comes down to clean shoes whn he is in uniform.
  10. EweSheep

    EweSheep Flock Mistress

    Jan 12, 2007
    Land of Lincoln
    Glad I know how to polish my shoes if I had any leather ones LOL. Thank God my father taught me that one! Kiwi is the best one and the smell is something HIGH! [​IMG]

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