Shoe trends may have changed since 1950, but one shoe polish company around since then says its quality products haven’t gone out of style.
The Harri Hoffmann Co., a family-run business based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has been making shoe polish and leather-care products since 1950. In a Conference Room interview with FBN’s Jeff Flock, owner Lorrainne Hoffman says her father built a business that valued quality over low prices.
“All the older [polishes] that had been around -- and there were a lot of them … They all came off, chalked off. This product didn’t come off, and we sold it for a lot more money than they did. Ours was 50 cents a bottle, whereas Shinola’s was 15,” she explains. “Ours worked and it didn’t come off. We only sold ours in shoe stores, shoe repair shops and department stores, because it was a high-quality product.”
While the Harri Hoffmann Co. today still makes many of its original products, Hoffmann says shifting trends away from leather shoes and toward sneakers have diminished the shoe polish business. Now, she says the company is focusing more on leather-care solutions.
Despite the new direction, however, Hoffmann says they’re still doing business the old way – right down to the old water elevator, made in 1892.
“We’re not about to replace it. It works, it works, so we use it. It serves our purpose. We don’t need some fancy elevator: We make shoe polish here, not cosmetics and computers or high-tech stuff,” says Hoffmann.
This attitude carries through to her family’s approach to business: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
“Keep it simple, keep it straight, keep a good product and people will buy it,” she says.