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Shoe Biz Links

Red Wing Shoe Business

This river bend has always been a major crossroads of commerce.  Leather was an important early Red Wing commodity and in 1872 Silas B. Foot started the S.B. Foot Tannery.  Several shoe companies (including one by S.B. Foot) were started in Red Wing, but the local leather supply wasn’t really used until 1905, when Charles Beckman and 14 investors opened the Red Wing Shoe Company.   Beckman’s experience as a shoe retailer made him the best choice for President.  The company grew rapidly and within 10 years was producing over 200,000 pairs of shoes a year.  In 1918 J.R Sweasy became general manager and for the next three decades he steered the company through the Great Depression and two world wars.  Upon J.R.’s death in 1949, his son W.D. “Bill” Sweasy took over and Red Wing Shoes has grown to become one of the most respected brand names in the world.  Today, the Red Wing Shoe Company stands as one of the last shoe manufacturers in the US, offering 7 brands with over 150 kinds of shoes and boots for all types of working and active feet.  A Red Wing Shoe Museum in downtown is a must see with the world's Largest boot.  

A Really Big Shoe Business

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