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Who Shines? Shoeshine Kits As Branding Tools

Jul 15, 2008
Every now and then you can still see a shoeshine person snapping that cloth and brushing his customer's shoes until they gleam.... kind of like a carwash for your shoes except that there's no water unless you count the "spit" shine.

There was a time when dozens of men would get their shoes shined but times change and it's kind of hard to shine tennis shoes. Men have shoes now that have that patent leather gloss that lasts past eternity. So, alas, the only places you may get your shoes shined now are at some of the famous hotels' lobbies and at home.

However, shoeshine kits can make a great promotional tool. While they may not be used on a regular basis, they are a novelty item, and customers are sure to remember you, along with your unique gift idea.
Up through the 60's most homes had a shoeshine kit available to them.., it was used on penny loafers and Sunday shoes. The shoeshine kit consisted of a brush and some soft cloths and some shoe wax which came in a couple of different colors and varieties. That is pretty much all it took to get it started. And the most important ingredient was the grease....the elbow grease.

The purpose for a shoeshine kit was for taking care of the shoes. The more care you took with them, the longer they would last and the more family money would be saved. The shoeshine kit was used for maintenance, Sunday and holiday sprucing up and was always used after rain and snow storms. Almost all shoe wear during this time was made of some leather or suede and it was important that it was well cared for. Kiwi had been a shoeshine manufacturer for years.

The shoe shine kit would be brought out, the footwear cleaned and then a conditioner was applied, it was similar to an oil and you would let it soak in and rub it in with the cloths. Then holing the shoe on one hand you would take the newly cleaned shoe and apply some wax in a circular motion and then you would rub it in with the cloth and then you would buff that shine on that shoe with that cloth and brush like there was no tomorrow,
It took forever to shine that shoe, and the wax in that shoeshine kit would last no matter how much you treed to use it up. Some of us would try to shine the heels but it didn't work out that well. The shoeshine men knew how to do it. We tried to do it. And a spit shine where you add a little moisture to the buffing polish. I don't believe more than 5 people in the world know how to do that.

I have seen some reproductions of the old professional shoeshine kits for sale. The one thing that differentiated the pro from the home kit was the fact that their supplies were always kept in a box with a slanted wooden top. An all purpose box, footrest, carry case and briefcase for the business man in which he carried the tools of his trade. These kits are very nostalgic today and I understand why. It brings back thoughts of a time long past.
About the Author
Miles Lovegrove is director of Fluid Branding, the UK's largest supplier of Promotional Shoeshine Kits and Branded Shoeshine Kits at www.fluidbranding.com. For Eco Friendly promotional products, including Recycled, Organic and Sustainable items visit www.ecoincentives.com
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