Originally Posted by wdahab
So I got to meet Mike and Kyle Rancourt yesterday at the Pop-Up Flea, as well as Katie. That was wonderful, as I'm of course a huge fan of them. I now own 4 pair of Rancourts, but unfortunately with the weather I wasn't wearing any of them. Along with chatting with them a while, I asked some questions about their construction, and got some answers as well, mostly with Mike.
So here's the summary, all paraphrased as best as I remember, *none* of these should be taken as quotes of what I asked or even close to their phrasings.
Q: How come you guys can get so much natural shell cordovan, while everyone else is treating it as though it's impossible to get?
A: We have a really great relationship Horween, it goes back a long time with shell cordovan, and (I think he said it this way) we order a lot of stuff ahead of time. Alden waits until they get the order for the shoes and then orders the cordovan to fill that order.
*I interpreted this as basically Horween knows they have a guaranteed sale to Rancourt, so Rancourt gets first crack. Alden isn't a guaranteed buyer, so they have to wait.
Q: Do you use fiberboard in your insoles? Why? Doesn't that diminish the longevity of the shoe?
A: Yes we do. *I don't remember his answer to why, sorry guys.* No it doesn't because unlike with goodyear welted shoes, we replace that insole when the soles get redone.
Q: What do you think of neocork soles? Aren't they cool? (I was wearing Alden Indy boots)
A: They are pretty much the sole we wish we could sell, we love them, and we've searched high and low, but it looks like Alden and Red Wing have a lockdown on the suppliers, we can't find anyone willing to sell to us.
Q: I was disappointed that my #8 CXL didn't actually act like #8 shell.
A: Yeah, we aren't thrilled by that either, but that's what Horween calls it, #8 CXL. They say it's because the base color is the same, but it definitely doesn't do the color fade that #8 shell does, it won't fade to yellow/red, sorry that it was a disappointment.
Q: You know your competitors are much more active on Style Forum, any interest in checking it out? For example, Oak Street hangs out there, and Allen Edmonds CEO has a sweetheart deal on custom shell shoes.
A (mostly Kyle and Katie): That AE deal sounds awesome, wow. We have looked into SF, and we get you guys buy a lot of our stuff, we just don't have the time. Our competitors that hang out there, like OSB, tend not to be actual manufacturers, so there is only so much shoe related stuff they can do. That's just the way it is, those guys design great shoes, but they don't make them.
Anyway, they also offered me some really great customer support discussions particular to me. They are all super friendly and social, and I apologized to/thanked them for having to deal with all of us crazy shoe lovers.
The deals they had at Pop-Up Flea were okay, but they were mostly the sales-tax difference of buying in person in NYC vs. buying online without tax, so I didn't buy anything.