Truefitt and Hill (NA) is mainly known for their shaving products but they have other grooming products as well. One of their more unusual products is a long-handled shoe horn. Made for T&H by an artisan in Chicago, it is made up of a long-tongue shoe insert, a heavy-duty spring, and a ten inch (I soooo wanted to say “foot”-long, nyuk nyuk) hardwood handle with an eyelet screw at the top of the handle for hanging. The story behind the artisan who makes them is interesting (and thanks to Truefitt & Hill CEO Todd Fisher for passing the story on to me):
My father started the shoe horn business more than 25 years ago. He was manufacturing the wood portion of the shoe horn and farming out the remaining parts to different manufacturers. At the time he was making two sizes, an 18” and 30” (total length) shoe horn. He was selling a few here and there but not the volume he was expecting. After a while he stopped selling them all together and the remainder of the parts in the 10,000’s were sitting in boxes in his basement. My dad and I go out to lunch about once a month, and every so often we would discuss the shoe horns. Since he had 10,000’s of pieces, he thought that he could sell the pieces and make some of the money back. I told him those pieces are specifically made for a particular item (shoe horn) and he would find it very difficult to sell just the pieces alone. About 5 to 6 years ago, at one of our lunches, he mentioned the shoe horns again. At this time, I had a little bit more time on my hands (my work was a bit slow). I knew the quality of the shoe horns were very good compared to what was in the market. So I said to him, I would like to sell a few of them on eBay and see how the product was received (what type of feedback I would get). So he gave me 10 of them to sell on line. They sold really well and the feedback was amazing. I said to him that all of the units he gave me sold and to give me another 10 units. This went on for a while until I said to him, since I have some time and these shoe horns are selling really good, I will pay for the remainder of your pieces and take everything off your hands. Since he was not doing anything with them anyway he was happy to get money for all of his pieces and get all of them out of his basement. Todd, you would not believe after 25 years sitting in some ones basement and garage, when I opened up the boxes he had, now keep in mind these boxes look beat up after all those years, the pieces in side looked like they just came from the factory. Like brand new, I was shocked and pleased at the same time because these pieces were expensive to reproduce as I am realizing these days. Since my father was manufacturing the wood, I only had a limited supply left, so I had to go and find a company to do that for me. Within the last 5 years I added a hanger cap witch extended the shoe horn another inch (19” 31”) and I also added a third size (25” shoe horn). The shoe horns are assembled in the US with American made parts (except the wood is made in Canada but finished in the US). While a lot of companies have struggled over the last 5 years not to mention companies going out of business. The shoe horn company over the last 5 to 6 years has shown increases every year. With little to no advertising, this increase has come from word of mouth and referral business.
And what a simple joy it is to use! The combination of the longer handle and the spring make for almost effortless use, without the usual awkward stooping or squatting involved with putting on a tight pair of shoes with a standard shoe horn. This would also make a terrific gift for someone who enjoys an upgraded grooming kit or who has back problems!