of the Silver Cup Awards
Dana Huval, Huval's Boot and Shoe Repair,
During the mid-1930s, the
shoe repair industry stood at a crossroads. The Great
Depression was in full force. Public use of shoe
repairing was off as much as 75 percent, according to
the National Leather and Shoe Finders Association (now
SSIA). Thousands of unemployed workers from other
industries decided to scratch out a living repairing
shoes, which meant lower prices, poorer overall
craftsmanship and a less-than-attractive reputation for
the industry as a whole.
In order to correct the
situation, NLSFA undertook the most massive project in
its history. First, there was the Peoria Test, a very
expensive consumer research program that identified four
areas in which the shoe repair industry needed to
improve -- shop appearance, workmanship, merchandising
and shop management.
Following the Peoria Test
was the Peoria Guild Plan. NLSFA produced everything
from paint, floor coverings and fixtures to help shop
appearance; to displays and advertising materials to
help with merchandising; to printed guides with specific
information to improve workmanship and management. More
than 4,000 shops joined the Guild.
Finally, to recognize those
shops with outstanding results in each of these
categories, NLSFA created the National Silver Cup
Contest. It was designed not only to recognize
excellence in the industry, but to bring greater
recognition within the industry of what must be done to
Though the Guild Plan faded
over time, the Silver Cup Contest kept going strong.
From the late 1940s to the present, it has been a major
annual event in the shoe repair industry. Repairers take
great pride in winning awards and wholesalers and
manufacturers shower the winners with praise and
recognition. The Grand Silver Cup is held up as the
symbol of excellence for which every shop in the
industry should strive.