Wednesday, July 3, 2013

An Investment in the Man You Will Be

My wife, Margot, is part of a group of volunteer tutors at our local high school.  They work with kids who are mostly from challenged home situations and having serious difficulty in school.  It’s a high-powered group of women doing the tutoring and they take it very seriously.  One woman studied the entire Chemistry textbook night after night to be able to help her student.  Margot, an English major in college, does some math and mostly helps on composition and literature classes, sometimes intervening with teachers on papers turned in late.  The kids often don’t commit to the tutoring all that much, which frustrates the tutors to no end.
There were two young men, though, who started to understand that education is like life – you only get out of it what you put into it.  Both of these guys wanted to get their grades up to the level at which they’d be eligible to play college football.  With little time left in the year and serious ground to make up, graduation suddenly became something to work for … and they made it! To congratulate them – their names are Deon and Matt – Margot took them to the Allen Edmonds store to be fitted for new shoes.  They were amazed that she’d do this and they took the fitting and the choice of shoe style very seriously.  Matt chose a pair of Strands and Deon – a lineman with very wide feet – went for some Waltons.  At check-out, Margot told them, “I want you to think of these shoes as an investment in the man you will be.”  Both Matt and Deon seemed to get as much out of that sentence as they had out of a year’s worth of tutoring.  They promised to wear their shoes proudly at Graduation, which they did, and to keep them in good shape for when they leave college for the working world.  They took their game up a level right before Margot’s eyes that day.  Their appreciation made us all realize once again the value of helping youth… and of a pair of great shoes!

At Allen Edmonds, we’re seeing a major surge in younger men as customers.  College graduates today seem to understand, way better than I did at 22, the impact of a good pair of shoes and an overall strong personal presentation – in the job market and everywhere else.  We have thousands of fans on Facebook and followers on Twitter, for example.  My email inbox and participation on e-community forums like “Reddit” show that Allen Edmonds is a shoe of choice for younger men of intelligence and aspiration.  It somehow gives me greater faith in the future.

This week, across the nation we’ll celebrate the founding of the United States of America.  The legacy that the Founding Generation passed on to us is truly amazing:  a great and complex gift and a tremendous responsibility.  It’s good to see that the coming generation will carry the legacy forward with enthusiasm, optimism and drive – and in a really good pair of shoes.

Happy 4th of July, everyone!

Paul D. Grangaard
President & CEO

Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation