One of America’s leading manufacturers of handmade shoes has been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic. In an effort to stay afloat, it is now offering a selection of styles at wholesale in an effort to weather the enduring economic fallout.
Based in Lewiston, Maine, Rancourt & Co. was founded in 1964 by its eponymous family who specialized in handcrafting moccasins. Now controlled by a third generation of the family, the business is one of the few of its kind left in the U.S. In an attempt to stay open—and keep its craftspeople on the payroll—the company has launched a crowdfunding campaign that will see its best-selling models sold at wholesale prices.
“We will collect orders until we reach the order threshold of approximately 150 pairs per style, then make your shoes in batches of 300,” Kyle Rancourt, the company’s vice president, said in a statement. “At this volume, we can keep all of our valuable shoemakers employed and avoid devastating lay-offs which hurt the shoemaking heritage in our community. We are grateful for your support and hope you’ll use this opportunity to help our small family business continue its 52-year tradition while acquiring a pair of handmade shoes worth waiting for.”
And that tradition is nothing to sneeze at. Rancourt employs many skilled cordwainers, some of whom have as much as 40 years of hands-on experience. The skill required to mold and fit leather on a last is a dying art that only a handful of firms such as Rancourt help keep alive. After that initial taxing process, every model is hand-stitched with wax threads––which are water-resistant but also prevent burning as they’re pulled through the leather––to create the shoe’s upper. All these details collectively create an incredibly supple (read comfortable) pair.
It’s a track record that has led a number of well-respected brands, including Ralph Lauren, to work with Rancourt in producing their own private label shoes. To get your hands on some high-quality footwear and provide critical aid to an independent business at the same time, head over to the brand’s website where even the priciest style can be had for a wallet-friendly $180.