Quality and Service Maintain the Popularity of Mankato Red Wing Shoe Store | Millennium

Quality, endurance and heritage.

Customers looking for these features in footwear are bound to find what they are looking for at Red Wing.

“Our products stand the test of time and look great,” said Pam Orth, 14-year manager of Mankato’s Red Wing store at 1310 Madison Ave.

“And all of our boot leather is tanned in Red Wing, Minnesota by SB Foot Tanning Company,” Orth said.

Red Wing is a familiar brand to most; it was founded in 1905 in the Minnesota town of the same name and has been manufacturing boots and shoes ever since.

Orth said work boots and other such products are a core part of their business.

“We mainly offer safety and work shoes, with safety shoes being predominant,” added Orth. “Almost every (construction and manufacturing) company in the city has a contract with us because they want their employees to be in our place and to be willing to pay for them.”

But Red Wing’s reach extends far beyond work shoes.

“We also have great socks, slippers, leather wallets, work gloves, insoles, and shoe care products to extend the life of your boots,” Orth said.

Last month, the local Red Wing got a state-of-the-art way to get customers’ feet into the right product.

“It’s called UFX for ‘Ultimate Foot Experience’ and uses 3D imaging and pressure motion mapping to match your personal foot dimensions to the perfect boot, insole and sock for you,” said explained Orth.

Available to all customers, UFX enhances the try-on experience of old shoe stores and ensures that products will match perfectly.

“We’ve partnered with a company called Superfeet that sponsors this high-tech machine,” Orth said.

Orth says Red Wing produces boots in a wide range of widths and sizes.

“If you have an oddly shaped foot, this is the store to go,” she said.

Another notable development is that Red Wing of Mankato was completely revamped last fall.

“The store is basically brand new,” Orth said, mentioning the addition of an accessible bathroom, among other upgrades. “There’s polished concrete, and the whole place has a chic, contemporary industrial look.”

A big fan

Longtime Red Wing customers like Mankato’s Pat McGowan might not even notice the changes, but remodel or not, McGowan’s loyalty to Red Wing is unwavering.

“I buy boots like some women buy shoes,” jokes McGowan, a foreman at Holtmeier Construction, Inc. He’s been in the construction industry for more than two decades, since the day he turned 18.

“You couldn’t pay me to go to work without my (steel-toed) boots,” he said.

“I crush rock for a living,” McGowan said, explaining that every day he works requires him to be tough on his boots.

“My job is all outdoors, and some days are better than others,” he continued. “Sometimes the mud is six inches deep and some days it’s the dust that’s an inch deep.

“I rely on my boots as much as I do on my helmet, gloves and thick jeans.”

McGowan admits to trying other brands in the past, but those experiences have only solidified his dedication to Red Wing.

“Some of these pairs only lasted seven days,” he said of alternative brands.

Although Red Wing products are known for their longevity, with the daily challenges McGowan throws at them, he ends up buying two to three pairs a year.

“They know what I want when I call, and they get it for me,” McGowan said. “It’s usually a quick conversation, ‘Hey, Pam, it’s Pat. I need another pair of boots. Nine times out of 10 they’re in stock, and if they’re not, they get them to me in a few days.”

Orth says she always strives for that level of customer service.

“Our philosophy is ‘Customer Wow’,” she said. “We want to give you such a great experience that when you walk through the door, you say, ‘Wow’.”

Orth doesn’t just sell Red Wing products; she, like McGowan, is another huge fan.

“I wear Red Wings every day and have probably 30 to 40 pairs,” she said. “It’s hard to say no. They are incredibly comfortable and I have always been drawn to the quality.

Orth favors boots from Red Wing’s Heritage line, which are 100% made in the USA and very popular with young people.

“Heritage boots are handmade at Red Wing and are more fashion-oriented,” Orth said.

While she sometimes sees casual shoppers stopping by to browse inventory, Orth says Red Wing is a “destination store.”

“For most people, when they arrive they are ready to buy,” she said. “These products sell.”

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