LEWISTON, Maine — One of Maine’s few remaining shoe manufacturers plans to double its workforce and at least triple revenue over the next five years, and it will do so deliberately, using lessons learned from the past.
Quoddy, a moccasin maker started in 1947 by Anne and Jack Spiegel, at one time had 1,000 employees in Auburn and more than 30 retail stores. Quoddy was sold and resold, and its operations shrank when its owners began importing shoe parts from Asia, current owners Kevin and Kristen Shorey said.
The widespread move to “offshoring” for cheaper parts and labor in the 1970s and 1980s decimated the shoe industry in Maine and the United States. Today, 99 percent of all shoes sold in the country are imported, mostly from Asia, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The Shoreys said it’s not possible to fully source all parts of shoes, even the custom handmade shoes it makes, in the United States.
“None of our shoes is completely made in the United States,” said Kevin Shorey, a fourth-generation shoemaker and one of Quoddy’s four co-owners. “Some soles are made in Italy, the laces in Mexico and the leather comes from Chicago.”