Gordon Slutsky - Shoe SalesmanTuesday, January 02, 2007
I have a friend, Graham Walker, who wears nice looking shoes that look either new or are polished to a sheen that makes me suspect spit is involved. I introduce him to my other friends as the man who has the shoe fetish. Graham smiles and never disagrees. I might know something about having a shoe fetish that I often keep to myself.
By the time I was 15 I was buying wine coloured, cordovan-leather Bostonian loafers at a store in Austin, Texas that sold Hart Schaffner & Marx suits. In 1965 I went into Lopez Taibo on Avenida Corrientes in Buenos Aires to buy a pair of their famous boots. The salesman eyed my sailor suit and rudely asked me if I was in the right store. I produced an American $100 bill (a lot of money in those days) and he immediately smiled and measured my feet. Close to 30 years later I returned to buy a new pair. The same man was working in a much reduced store on Corrientes. He did not remember me. I gave him my name and he came back with a box that had my measurements. I still have those Lopez Taibo boots today.
For a while I had expensive taste for good shoes and I shopped at Sheppard Shoes in the original location on West Hastings and when they moved further West. My salesman of choice was Gordon Slutsky. He sold me my last pair of Sheppard shoes in May 98 and a couple of years later the store closed.
Gordon Slutsky reminded me of Boris Karloff before he became famous making horror movies. Slutsky was quiet spoken and very gentle.
Gordon Slutsky started working with shoes in 1932 in Winnipeg. At the time Winnipeg had the same population as Vancouver and Canadians stood to sing "God Save the King". The brogues that Slutsky sold went for $8 a pair. Sixty six years later (in 1998) a lot of things had changed even though he still sold shoes. In this picture Slutsky is holding an Alden genuine shell cordovan loafer at $675 a pair. On some of the slow days Slutsky got to thinking about cows. He told me,
"I see a cow running in the meadow and I see milk. What other purpose does it fulfill? You can make a bunch of leather from it. You get this inanimate stuff, that's all leather is; you cut a pattern and voilà you have a pair of shoes."