The 1920s were full of prosperity, urbanization, and financial growth for America and much of the world. As the country thrived, the Red Wing Shoe Company launched a new sales technique: sending salesmen out on their own across the country. These salesmen, known endearingly as “Shoe Dogs”, traveled throughout the United States selling boots directly to independent retailers.
Shoe Dogs eagerly grabbed a case of boots and hit the road. Like most sales jobs, there was no guarantee at success and the men had to be resilient and rely on instinct. Through their efforts, sales and production figures more than doubled from 1920 to 1929.
Twice a year, the traveling salesmen were introduced to new products and design changes, but more importantly, these meetings allowed the men on the frontline to relay feedback to headquarters. Because the shoe dogs personally interacted with customers on a daily basis, they were able to provide the Red Wing Shoe Company with vital information and direct comments from the customers. The shoe dogs knew their customers well and on several occasions, shoe dogs came up with solutions and product ideas that coincided with customer comments.
These days the the distribution model has changed a bit, but many of the ideas and practices learned during the golden era of the Shoe Dog live on in spirit to this day.