A Day in the Neighborhood: The Aurora Shoe Company

Blog, Finger Lakes // admin // 21 September 2011

Sitting at the front desk of the Aurora Inn recently, I overheard someone refer to our little village as an “oasis in the middle of nowhere.” While we’re not exactly in the middle of nowhere, (we are only half an hour, or, well, forty minutes from bustling Ithaca) Aurora is somewhat out of the way on a sunny day. However, I prefer to think of the village, my surrogate home, as more of a cultural enclave rather than a hard-to-reach oasis. With one main street and more cows than capita, it’s easy to write Aurora off as, well, a nowhere. But it is also home to a surprising number of craftsman, artisans, and very creative individuals.

One such bastion of craftsmanship in our lakeside hamlet is the Aurora Shoe Company, located about five minutes outside of the village proper, on Route 90. In their own words, the shoe company states that, “The Aurora Shoe Company was founded on the idea that a good pair of shoes should be made well and fit comfortably. We use American made materials and assemble all of our shoes in house and by hand. Our simple leather shoes are timeless in style and universal in their appeal.” Dave Binns, head shoe maven, concurs with this description, adding, “There is a sign that has hung in our shop for a long time now that reads, ‘There is no economic substitute for quality’.  For us this has meant always using the best materials available, never taking short cuts in our production process, and limiting our growth to a reasonable rate each year. Demand for our shoes has continued to grow especially in our Japanese market, but we refuse to grow too fast.  Our customers in Japan wait an average of 4 months from the time they place their order until we are able to deliver their shoes to them.”

It’s hard to walk through downtown Aurora without encountering half a dozen pairs of Aurora Shoe company shoes. Men and women of all ages and walks of life (pun intended) sport the handmade leather goods, which come in a small variety of styles and colors. Binns says, “We ask our customers to share pictures of where they have travelled in their Aurora Shoes, and we post some of them to our blog. Besides traveling all over North America, we have reports of our shoes visiting every continent except Antarctica” (the Aurora Shoe website points out that Dave wears his baling hay. His sister Alyssa, also an employee, wore hers all the way to Thailand). “We have had multiple reports of our shoes on the brides & or groom’s feet in their wedding.  And Santa always wears a pair of black Aurora Shoes when he visits the village for Christmas in Aurora.”

From employment to reliable footwear, the Aurora Shoe company offers a lot to its hometown. Small, local, environmentally conscious, but with global appeal, the company is a perfect example of the small town ethics and loyalty, paired with international influence that can be unexpectedly found in Aurora. And, wherever it is, it’s probably wearing Aurora Shoe company shoes.

For more information on the Aurora Shoe Company and its wonderful products, visit their website, at  www.aurorashoeco.com.