Avoid the Winter Blues for your Shoes

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Winter is tough. The crust and slush and muck has arrived on the terrain, full of “sick germs” for your shoes. Remembering the white salt stains that rimmed my nice leather boots last year, I decided to start researching better winter shoe care. After asking our shoe experts at The Foursome and a little internet browsing, I found a few precautions and simple remedies to safeguard your favorite leathers.

PREVENTION
Polish or moisturize your leather shoes and boots to protect them against the elements. At this point in the season, do this ASAP. Think of this step like lotion for your skin…you are less likely to dry out and crack when lotion and potioned up.

Good products for this step include Saddle Soap, Allen Edmonds Leather Care Lotion, and Water & Stain Protector (see leather care products below for details)

SNOW REMOVAL
Though we are all eager to get in the warm house asap, taking the time to brush the wet snow from your shoes could save you a lot of damage. This step enables them to dry out faster which is important in helping your shoes stay healthy. So keep a brush or towel in your entry and get in the habit.

BREAK TIME
We all need a break, and shoes do too. Would you want to work seven days a week? Swapping shoes every day will enable the ones taking a nap to dry out, breathe, and remain durable and flexible for their turn out in the cold. This will only prolong the lifespan of your beloved leather footwear.

DE-SALTING
Just a few wears out in the snow or down an icy sidewalk will make noticeable white rings near the sole of the shoe. Luckily, the recipe for erasing salt lines is simpler than the Cat in the Hat removing the pink ring in the tub. If wiping the salted areas just after you come indoors with a warm damp rag doesn’t do the trick, just mix up a small container with a 1:1 ratio of water and vinegar and gently rub it into the affected areas.

BAD ODOR
Ok, let’s be honest, like bad breath it’s hard to hide foot odor. A more natural approach to sprays and other topical odor treatments are cedar wood shoe trees. They sustain the form, keep the interior dry, and leave a natural cedar scent for you and your loved ones.

STOP IN FOR A COMPLIMENTARY SHOE SHINE
Visit The Foursome’s leather care expert, Cornelius, at the store on Saturdays from noon – 3 p.m. Wear or bring a pair and receive a free shoe shine. You’ll be amazed how your shoes or boots can look good as new!


LEATHER CARE PRODUCTS

Available at The Foursome. Some only cost a couple dollars and could save you hundreds.

1. Kelly’s Water and Stain Protector ($7.95)
Protects leather and suede from water and oil-based stains. Spray should be applied to new shoes and re-applied as needed throughout the season.

2. Allen Edmonds Premium Shoe Polish ($9) – buy now
Preserves and beautifies the most delicate smooth leather, helping resist dirt, rain and snow while providing a lustrous glow

3. Allen Edmonds Leather Cleaner ($4.95) – buy now
Cleans and moisturizes, natural leather.

4. Allen Edmonds Leather Care Lotion ($9) – buy now
Moisturizes, protects, and cleans natural leather.

5. Allen Edmonds Horsehair Brush ($10) – buy now
Naturally cleans and applies shoe cream and polish.

5. Woodlore Aromatic Shoe Trees ($21-25) – buy now
Keep your leather shoes in top condition. Shoes remain dry on the inside while leaving a fresh cedar scent.

6. Tingly Shoe protectors ($27-29) – buy now
The finest rubber overshoes made. Protects your fine shoes from rain and snow.

 

– By Beth Dougherty, Inspiration and Display Coordinator at The Foursome

Limelight Shoes: A Slice of Color and Nice

Lets talk about something that will put a little spring in your step. Limelight shoes. Even if you don’t get out much, I am sure you have seen brightly colored shoes somewhere, in some way, shape, or form. I am not a trend expert but I notice things. And anyway, neon is hard to miss. We saw a splash of it in golfwear and neckwear for spring 2012 and I know there is more of to come this spring. I wrote a blog post about color when fall apparel hit. But right now I am mainly talking about shoes. The bright and vibrant shoe trend, throbbing with color from laces to soles. I did not catch much of the Olympic Games this summer but enough to notice the hundreds of athletes shod in electric footwear. Check out this article about Nike’s neon shoe ambush. It is pretty intriguing.

So I know what you might be thinking – neon colors are a blast from the past. The 80’s are over. Not interested. Or – I am not into wearing florescent athletic shoes. Fine. But that is not the only way to wear this trend. How about a pair of dress shoes with just a slice of color? A sole with a bit of hue? Brightly colored laces? If you are not walking down the fashion runway on a regular basis, then accessories and footwear are the best and most versatile way to incorporate these vigorous colors into your wardrobe. And the reason for doing so is not mainly to be trendy. It is important to maintain your timeless fashion while continually adding bits here and there to stay current and interesting. A pair of exceptional shoes is one way of doing just that.

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As I perused the men’s shoe selection at The Foursome the other day looking at our newest footwear, I noticed two specific things seen in various brands. Wingtips and color. In most cases they were together. A traditional shoe design merged with the color craze. Subtle, yet full of character. Brilliant and tastefully crafted. Allen Edmonds, one of our highest quality and most timeless shoe brands designed a brown wingtip with hot orange rims and replaceable matching laces. Also hip wingtip boots accented in red and other similar designs. Cole Haan created a dull-ish sea blue wingtip with brighter blue laces in the same color spectrum. Or how about a pair of two-toned brown saddle shoes with blue soles. Don’t be concerned about if you have something at home that matches. They are not meant to match perfectly, that would be contrived. You can wear wingtips and colorful shoes with jeans or slacks, sport shirts or sport coats. Wingtips easily dress up or down. These shoes are worth kickin’ up your heels about. That is why I bring them to your attention. For your own fashionable good. So step out a little, your spirits will thank you.

– By Beth Dougherty, Inspiration and Display Coordinator at The Foursome

Eyepopping Color

Rich and Saturated. The fall clothing at the Foursome is singing opera this season. It is truly deep and beautiful music. The most shocking notes come from the eyepopping color. Color? Shouldn’t we just talk about texture and layering for fall?  Well, the textures are as great as they should be this time of year. . . corduroy, leather, various knit wear, felted and boiled wool, thick flannel, fleece, fluffy zips, canvas pants. But the most glorious pieces for your wardrobe this year will be full of color. Vibrant and energetic.

Fall Fashions

At night, I sometimes lie awake thinking about a distinct color I have seen popping up in many of the fall collections this year. Benjamin Moore calls it Habanero Pepper, Geranium, Pinata, Moroccan Red. I call it Heirloom Tomato, Bittersweet Red, Orange Wine. It is very saturated and a beautiful mixture of red and orange, not too much or too little of either. Its perfect. I love it paired with something navy. Stunning.

Bill’s Khakis colored twill pants and plaid shirt.

Another specific color to start collecting this fall is green. Our Buyer, Scott Winterbottom  told me that we will be seeing more of this color in the months to come. He said its the hot color right now. We are seeing it in many shapes and shades. Chartreuse, Grass Green, Muted Lime Green, Chamomile, Deep Emerald Green. Even if you are a little shy, there is a hue to suite you.

Jackets, flannels, vests, and fleece from The North Face

Seeing, touching, and writing about the colorful fall apparel this year makes me giddy. A bit like a horse feels when the first nip of cool fall weather touches their nose. They run around the pasture with great speed and excitement, bucking with joy. Even if I have reason to be partial, I am very upfront, honest, and realistic. So you can trust me when I say that we have one of the best fall selections of merchandise I have ever seen at the Foursome. It sings.
  – Words by Beth Dougherty, Inspiration and Display Coordinator at The Foursome

Celebrating Made in America

At the Foursome we love good stories, especially those that involve determination, values, work ethic, and family. These days, they are not easy to come by — the grassroots, small-town hardware store, and “made in America” kind of stories that are worth knowing. These kinds of companies involve real people committed to something more than the bottom line. Quality goods, customer satisfaction, and a good handshake always seem to be a part of the story. This is our story, and we love to buy from companies with similar ones. As Foursome founder Ron Engel used to say, “We don’t just sell clothes, we build relationships.”

OUR STORY

The Foursome story began in 1935 when a group of golf-playing school teachers decided to open a small general clothing store together. In 1955 Ron Engel and his wife Lucille became part-owners of The Foursome, Ron selling and Lucille doing bookkeeping and alterations. The business took on a true family flavor when their son Gordy — currently the company president —joined the business in 1969. Over the last decade, the business became a family enterprise. Four of Gordy’s children have joined The Foursome team, using their unique interests and talents to enhance the business.

Engel Owners

The Foursome started in Wayzata, and now Plymouth is our home. We have grown, downsized, survived a weak economy, and persevered through challenges. Through it all, we continue to keep pace with changing times. Like the little engine that could, cheerfully pressing on over the big hills, we are still a family and business. We remain committed to what matters most to us, namely our customers. We take pride in helping them feel comfortable and confident in the quality clothing we sell.

We have always been steadfast about community involvement, so we weren’t surprised when ‘shopping local’ became a trend. We have supported our community since the beginning. We participate by providing employment, volunteering, advertising, and contributing to food shelves, sports teams, clubs, and religious organizations. As a family business, we value knowing and helping people — both our customers and our neighbors. We consider ourselves a rarity in this day-and-age. For people who value knowing where their merchandise is made, appreciate friendly and expert service, and love a good story, The Foursome is your family to shop with.

We choose brands that are made in the USA, whenever possible. The pressure to move manufacturing offshore is strong. A competitive economy makes it especially difficult for small companies not to do so. But we have found a few that have stood against the tide. They all exhibit grit, determination, and a commitment to our country. We proudly honor them and their stories with our Made in the USA promotion.

Why does it matter? Goods made in the USA use less fossil fuel than those that are imported. The companies that make them are vital to our nation’s economy. They form the backbone of our society, by creating jobs and hope in small towns across the United States. It feels good to do what is right.

OUR AMERICAN MADE BRANDS

ALLEN EDMONDS
Port Washington, Wisconsin

Established in 1922, Allen Edmonds is a company rich in Heritage. In the 1930s Allen Edmonds weathered the Great Depression by working even harder to reach customers who cared about gold standard quality. As many other shoe manufacturers went out of business, the management team kept Allen Edmonds on track by staying true to the company’s core values and superior craftsmanship.  It wasn’t long before Allen Edmonds were being worn by Presidents, Popes and Pros. (Reagan, GW Bush, Clinton, Pope John Paul II, etc.)

Today, instead of following the trend to move manufacturing offshore, Allen Edmonds invested millions to modernize its US manufacturing facilities. The company employs over 280 employees at their expanding Wisconsin shoe factory. ” Our longevity is also attributable to the company being at its heart, a family business.” Our family at the Foursome can say the same is true for us!

We are proud to offer and extensive selection of Allen Edmonds footwear in-store and online.

BILLS KHAKIS
Reading, Pennsylvania

The year was 1990. With a few thousand dollars and a dozen or so part-time jobs, Bill Thomas slowly grew his business from a “trunk of the car” start-up to a full-time enterprise. His idea was to start a company that captured and celebrated the American ideal. “We could put a man on the moon, but couldn’t make khakis like we did 50 years ago,” he thought. Someone had to save this small but symbolic piece of Americana.

Today, thanks to the hard work of 20 devoted employees, and many others, all products, including pants, shorts, jeans, shirts and jackets are produced in the United States. Bills Khakis makes its home in downtown Reading, Pennsylvania. Bills Khakis chooses to locate here to serve as an example that a 21st century business can still compete in a city that was built on a 20th century economy. In a small way, the mere existence of Bills Khakis has been a minor business miracle. The brand has managed to build a cult following in a market category so large, it would reject the notion of a business that strives to sell and service one pair of khakis at a time. “Who said it can’t be done in America today.” -Bill Thomas

The Foursome offers Bill’s Khakis items in-store and online

ST. CROIX
Winona, Minnesota

Nearly 50 years ago, Bernhard Brenner came to America as a young knitting engineer from Europe with a singular vision: “To make the finest sweater that can be made.” Amid the scenic bluffs of the Upper Mississippi River Valley at Winona, Minnesota, Mr. Brenner founded Knitcraft Corporation with the belief that Winona’s beautiful countryside and the strong work ethic of its residents would be key to achieving his vision. In a short time, the St. Croix label became synonymous with perfection in craftsmanship and styling and earned its reputation as the world’s highest quality knitwear.

Not only is St. Croix American made, it’s Minnesota made! This quality and world-renowned menswear collection is made so close to the Foursome, we consider it local. As a family business, we especially value buying merchandise from our neighbors who we know personally.

Shop our large selection of St. Croix items in-store or online

HICKEY FREEMAN
Rochester, New York

 

The Temple. That’s what everyone calls it: the Temple to Fine Tailoring. Two young entrepreneurs named Jacob Freeman and Jeremiah Hickey built it in the early years of the 20th century. Their plan was to bring high-quality hand-tailoring to men from coast to coast. As they envisioned it, a Hickey Freeman suit would be a testament to both the delicate artistry of hand-craftsmanship and the steady consistency of modern technology. Their idea turned into an epic American success story,  the kind we adore at The Foursome.  Men of style and achievement have, for generation after generation, turned to Hickey Freeman for authenticity and quality, elegance and innovation. They still do.

The Temple — a 77,000-square-foot factory in Rochester, New York — is where it all happens. Tailors from around the world gather in Rochester’s sartorial sanctuary to set sleeves and stitch collars and roll lapels. Each tailor has a different specialty, but they all share a common goal: to create suits that represent the very pinnacle of American tailoring. For decades, anyone who stepped into the Temple saw the phrase “Keep the Quality Up” carved into the oak entryway. “Keep the Quality Up” was the Hickey Freeman motto — and its mission statement. It still is.

HART SCHAFFNER MARX
Chicago, Illinois

Hart Schaffner Marx is an American story. In 1887, two immigrant brothers by the names of Harry and Max Hart scraped together just enough money to open up a men’s clothier in downtown Chicago. Through their tireless work, savvy innovation (the first to introduce suits tailored for different body types, zippered trousers and tropical weight wool suits, amongst other things) and an unwavering commitment to dressing men in high-quality clothing produced right here in the USA, the brothers grew their company into one of the largest men’s suit manufacturers in the world. HSM continues in that tradition today, giving well-dressed men of conviction the style and grace they demand in the American-made choice they deserve. With a 119 year heritage, the HMX group is the leading American clothing manufacturer and marketer.  Check out more on the Harts blog.

GITMAN DRESS SHIRTS
Ashland, Pennsylvania

Since 1948 Gitman has consistently made one of the finest shirts in the world. Located in Ashland, Pennsylvania, Gitman is also one of the last remaining shirt makers that bases its manufacturing entirely in America. Everyone they work with has been sewing clothing for generations and brings all their history and skill to each individual shirt sewn. Their experience is irreplaceable and they are dedicated to keeping their manufacturing here to utilize and save something that is truly part of American history. At Gitman, our identity is based on the fact that we produce a garment founded on quality in materials and construction – a particular combination of the world’s finest fabrics and master shirt making.

At Gitman, craftsmanship and technology – a perfect mix of the old and the new – go into each and every shirt we sew. More than 80 minutes and 50 steps go into the creation of a shirt, which is made of 25 separate pieces. Whether choosing one of the more than 1500 fabrics and patterns from among the finest European weavers, or deciding on which body silhouette and collar/cuff combo work best, they are constantly engaging both themselves and their customers with what the market demands and expects. This is reflected in the range and depth of their collections.

TORI RICHARD
Honolulu, HI

From their headquarters in Honolulu, Tori Richard is a resort lifestyle company. Founded in 1956, Tori Richard, Ltd. is still today a family business driven by an appreciation of unique fabrications and globally inspired prints. The first factory was on Pier 7 in downtown Honolulu. At high tide it was not unusual to see wet floorboards. As the business quickly grew, founder Mort Feldman moved the factory to a Quonset hut on Beretania Street in Honolulu. Over the years, the family business changed and adapted, but stayed true to their Hawaiian inspiration and values. In December of 2008, Tori Richard, Ltd became one of the world’s first solar powered apparel manufacturers and retailers. This unique, $1.1 million photo voltaic system provided their corporate headquarters and warehouses in Honolulu with 94% of all its electricity needs.

The Foursome offers Tori Richard shirts for men and big & tall men in-store and online.

WIGWAM
Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Since 1905, my family has been committed to our employees, our community, and making fine quality socks just for you” – Bob Chesebro, President. Wigwam Mills, Inc. is proud to knit its socks in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, U.S.A., just for you because we care. We care that thousands of manufacturers in this country sacrifice quality for less-expensive labor in other areas of the world, to increase the bottom line. We care about the environmental, sociological, and financial implications of this policy.

Our manufacturing facility is state of the art and getting more “green” all of the time. We have and are working with local utilities to improve our efficiency and limit our carbon footprint. We support wool producers in this country by sourcing our wool almost exclusively from American yarn spinners who buy from American wool growers. And we support domestic yarn spinners whenever possible. For over 100 years, Wigwam has been dedicated to enhancing the lives of our customers. We have done this not just through  providing them the finest quality socks, but by providing them with  the assurance that their purchase of  Wigwam socks supports its reputation of honesty and integrity.

FITSOK
Chanhassen, Minnesota

At FITSOK, the mission is simple; Give athletes the best in engineered fit and performance. They are committed to offering products that allow everyone to excel. Whether running, biking or training, each FITSOK pushes the boundaries of moisture and temperature management. From the athletic CF2 to the feature rich CX3 and the advanced ISW, the entire FITSOK lineup is designed to keep feet dry, comfortable and cool. Every sock is packed with tech, built right here in the USA. Running isn’t just a sport – it’s a lifestyle.

CARROT & GIBBS
Boulder, Colorado

Carrot & Gibbs was founded in Boulder, Colorado, in 1987. Neil Borin, one of the original owners, knows his bows. You will never see a Carrot & Gibbs tie that has been fashioned out of stacked fabric and cut en masse. Carrot & Gibbs bow ties are created from specially selected imported 100% silk fabrics, predominately woven and printed. Each tie is individually cut, sewn and pressed by hand here in the United States. And rather than a metal clasp at the back, you will find mother-of-pearl buttons. Carrot & Gibbs is proud to be associated with this small piece of cloth with its 400-year heritage. The bow tie inspires a staunch loyalty that can only be understood by those independent thinkers who look into the mirror, tie their bows, and go forth as proud members of this civilized minority. Click here for a step by step bow tying guide.

BARBARA BLANK
New York City, New York

Barbara Blank earned a master’s degree in psychology at Harvard and studied art history in Italy. Now Barbara Blank designs ties. She joined her father’s neckwear company which had been manufacturing handmade neckwear in New York City, New York since 1920. All Barbara Blank ties are crafted of luxurious silk fabric in their historic workroom off New York City’s Fifth Avenue. Some things withstand the test of time.

JZ RICHARDS
Boulder, Colorado

There is an actual JZ! Jan Zumbrennen (Richard Jan Zumbrennen) founded JZ Richards 17 years ago. By 1994 when the company was founded, he had over 20 years of experience in the neckwear industry having worked with Bert Politzer, Robert Talbott, and Farrell Reed. Jan’s goal was to incorporate the best components of each of those companies under a single roof, and JZ Richards was born. The company was founded in 1994 in the Zumbrennen living room. In fact, the first JZ Richards Line was swatched on top of the family’s pool table. Then, as now, the company is based in beautiful Boulder Colorado in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The Wild Horse Studio, set 7,000 feet above sea level with sweeping mountain views, has been the inspiration for the vast majority of JZ Richards’ designs over the years. The main office “down the mountain” in Boulder proper is filled with long term employees committed to maintaining the high standards that JZ Richards customers have come to expect over the years.

J.Z. Richards ties are hand-made in the U.S.A. The quality American craftsmanship that goes into every J.Z. Richards tie results in a durable tie that knots easily, doesn’t slip, and is quality inside and out. Your J.Z. Richards tie always looks great. And so will you.

WOODLORE
Port Washington, Wisconsin

Since the company was founded in 1987, the demand for Woodlore cedar products has grown. Their goal is to build a reputation for quality that is as strong as the wood they use. They use kiln-dry lumber to a precise moisture content and carefully control humidity levels throughout the manufacturing process to prevent cracking and warping. Fine sanding gives every surface a silken finish. Such uncompromising standards bring out the lasting beauty of their natural cedar products.

At Woodlore, they understand the importance of preserving the environment for future generations. After all, their business depends on natural resources. That is why they practice selective cutting, which allows aromatic cedar to grow faster than it’s harvested. They follow manufacturing techniques designed to waste as little as possible. Even their wood chips, shavings and sawdust get put to good use. Plus, packaging is both recycled and recyclable.

SMARTWOOL
Steamboat Springs, Colorado

SmartWool is a company based on values, advocacy, and community. “We want to affect positive change in the world within which we live, play and do business. We believe in capitalism with a conscience. We acknowledge an accountability to all humankind, demonstrated through compassion, active kindness and respect.”

Founded by New England ski instructors, the company swears by the amazing natural fibers of merino wool. They have worked extensively with their New Zealand sheep growers on the fair treatment of sheep. 90% of all SmartWool socks are knit right here in the U.S.A.

CHAMPEY SOY CANDLES
Minnetonka, Minnesota

Handmade locally in Minnetonka, these soy candles are so great we had to sell them at The Foursome alongside our clothing and shoes as a gift item or personal indulgence. Handpoured and made from soybeans, a renewable resource, these candles have a longer, cleaner burn and are naturally biodegradable, non-toxic, and earth friendly. Plus, when you are finished burning your Champey candle, they will pour another candle for you or you can simply wash it with soap and hot water and reuse the container. Reuse, repurpose, and recycle is this company’s mission…along with making great smelling and clean burning candles.

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All Made in the U.S.A. brands are 20% off at The Foursome May 21 – 31, 2014. We are closed Memorial Day, Monday May 26th. Have a safe and happy holiday.