The Economics of Quality

We say it all the time because it's true - there really is no economic substitute for quality.  Products that are made well have a lower cost-per-use, and a much higher true value than those made poorly.  They may cost more upfront, but their value goes on and on.  This is why we're committed to simple, classic styles.  They'll continue to look good for as long as they last because they're not trying to keep up with current fads.  They look good, they feel good, and they'll take you just about anywhere. 

In the 6 years we've been selling shoes online, we have worked hard to keep prices consistent, even through a 30% increase in leather costs.  We refuse to allow higher costs to impact our employees, and are committed to a wage that keeps up with inflation and the increased cost of living.  At the end of the day, we've found ourselves having to decide between increasing our prices or compromising on our quality.  As we hope you know by now, we always choose quality.  If you check out our website, you'll see that our prices have gone up by about 10% which is enough to cover our increased costs, while maintaining the high quality shoes you've come to know and expect.

The relationships that we have with our customers are built upon sincerity and mutual respect, and it felt like it would be wrong to adjust prices without explaining why.  We love getting to know you through the letters and photos that you share, and your tracings often come in with little notes or doodles that make us smile.  Thank you for supporting our small business for the past 24 years and for understanding our plans to ensure we'll be around for at least 24 more.


Winter Sun

Living in upstate New York requires an open mind and lots of layers.  Summers are hot and muggy, thanks to the beautiful lakes that surround us on all sides, and it's common to see snow on Halloween and then rain on Christmas.  We thaw out around March, but April can sometimes bring a snow that covers everything but the pretty little daffodils.  You just never know...

A few weeks ago, after plenty of snow and cold weather, we were lucky enough to get a 60 degree day on the weekend after Christmas.  It took a little magic, but we pulled together a quick photo shoot and the results are worth sharing.  Can you see the winter sun shining on everything?

handmade leather shoes new chinese

West Indian made in USA


Merry Christmas! and Holiday Hours

If you've ever wondered who's making or re-soling your shoes, this is it.  We're a team of eleven artisans, working together to make leather shoes in small batches with great care.  It truly is an art form and a tradition that we are proud to be a part of.  

In this week leading up to the Christmas holiday, our factory outlet will be open today along with next Monday and Tuesday, from 12-4:00 p.m. Local folks are welcome to stop in for a pair of shoes or a gift certificate during those hours.  Everyone else can follow the link and order a gift certificate online.  It's super easy and can be done at the very last minute, which we all know is helpful this time of year.  

Starting Wednesday, the 24th, we'll be off for a while, and plan to spend our time staying warm and enjoying good food with our families.  We hope that you are able to do the same. 

Merry Christmas!


On Location at Ledyard Farms

Today was the perfect day to get out into the snow and take a few photos.  Carrie and I met up at Ledyard Farms where we were able to meet Ledyard's Tiger Lily, a 4-year-old Morgan show horse. The farm is one of our favorite spots for picking up local eggs, lamb and beef.  It also happens to be really pretty in the snow...

Morgan Show Horse Ledyard Farms

Morgan Show Horse Ledyard's Tiger Lily

Where have your Auroras taken YOU?   Share your everyday adventures with us!


North Pacific (our boots are finally here!)

They've been a long time coming, but we're really excited to be sharing our first new shoe design in more than 20 years!  We stuck with the same roomy toe box and added a beefier Vibram sole so these boots can work and play as hard as you do.  Each pair comes with a set of both cotton and leather laces so you can customize your look. 

We make each pair to order, so please allow for plenty of time - we're a small group of artisans, working by hand.  Don't worry, what we lack in speed, we make up for in quality!


Flax + Leather =

Sometimes, if you're lucky, you can get away with doing something super fun and legitimately calling it work.  These photos document a day I like to think of as "Playing Dress-up with Friends".  Ever since our magazine feature, I've been wanting to put together some photos to highlight one of my favorite local shops, a Flax, linen, etc. consignment shop called Dinosaur Dry Goods.  My friend, Bird, and her husband, Raph have been putting Jackie's clothes and our shoes together with beautiful results for years, so it was a great excuse to get together and get creative for the sake of some fresh photos.  

I'll be sharing more shots from our day together, both on our website and Facebook page, but for now, and in honor of what feels like the end of warm weather in upstate New York, I'll start with the summery stuff.  Jackie's collection of Dinosaur Dry Goods is constantly changing, but if you like what you see, you can check in and see what's new on a regular basis here

Dinosaur Dry Goods

Dinosaur Dry Goods Flax

handmade leather shoes

Aurora Shoe Co. Dinosaur Dry Goods


Meet the Neighbors: The Cellar d'Or

At the Aurora Shoe Company, we passionately support small business and handmade and local goods. As a visitor of our blog, we thought that you might feel the same way. In our Meet the Neighbors series we're featuring businesses and people who reflect our own values and whom we feel lucky to call neighbors and friends.

It's always fun to photograph unique spaces, and even more fun when they're lined with carefully curated beverages and swarming with the owners' cute kids.  Mark and Olivia, creators of The Cellar d'Or, located on the Ithaca Commons, are friends and neighbors who know how to take a passion and turn it into a life.

buy local Ithaca 

How did you get into the business of wine, and when did you know that you wanted to sell and produce your own?

Curiosity helped Mark catch the wine bug, spurred by his family's interest in wine while growing up (the family are Italian citizens). He started taking some internationally recognized certification wine courses which led to some entry level jobs in retail shops in Westchester county, NY. Soon that passion led him to work for the famed Michael Skurnik Wines for 8 years, one of the greatest Importer/distributors in the country based out of Manhattan.
A somewhat natural progression in the business leads people to want to try making their own wine and the opportunity arose last year when Mark and a good friend came across grapes from a well known vineyard on Seneca lake. With the help of a couple of local winemakers they started Fossil & Till, their own wine label.  In 2011we planted our own cider apple trees on Olivia's parents property.  They will begin producing next year so stay tuned for a future cider label as well!

What drew you back to Aurora and what's keeping you here?

With two young kids on eastern Long Island, and 6 hours from the closest family, Olivia longed for her mother's help and missed home. On a late fall trip to Ithaca to see a concert at The State Theater, we discussed how the Commons definitely needed a wine shop. The next day we visited an empty retail space that 7 months later would become The Cellar d'Or. We chose to work in Ithaca but live in  Aurora because of its proximity to family, the lakes and the simply bucolic and pastoral scenery and lifestyle- it's a great place to raise a family!

If you could give a piece of advice to someone looking to create a life based on their passion, what would it be?

With some determination and your own sweat equity, anything is possible. We had very little money (although we had a credit card!), and no investors, but managed to turn a dingy old clothing shop into a warm, inviting, aesthetically pleasing retail space with one heck of a cool wine & cider selection. We did all the work ourselves, used lots of imagination to create the space, and had the help of close friends and family to get the construction done.  We just took it step by step, day by day, and worked toward our goal. We started small and just grew slowly without having to dig a huge hole financially.  Thanks to our customers (who shop local and on the Commons!), we've been able to support our family and survive our first year, which is pretty cool, especially through the Commons reconstruction.

Why do you think it's important to buy local?

Not so long ago, everything came from a "mom and pop shop". Now, almost everything is "made in China" or otherwise imported. When you support local, you support your neighbors and local economy. There's enough talent and creativity in our small towns and cities that we shouldn't ever have to buy anything made half-a-world away and we think there's value in looking for local products and even paying a bit more for that type of quality! 
We're huge supporters of the local wineries and cideries who are proving to be quality producers and who also think ethically and environmentally. We live in a beautiful region, and we want to do our part to support it, while taking advantage of what is has to offer.  Wine, cider and beer are a huge and growing part of this mostly rural economy.

Can you tell us more about future plans?

The Mark and Olivia Think Tank is always full of ideas. The Cellar d'Or still has lots of growing to do, as does Fossil & Till.  As for other adventures, you'll have to stay tuned!  We have a few things in the pipeline!

Ithaca Commons, Aurora Shoe Company, handmade leather shoes

Aurora Shoe Co. handmade leather boots

wine and cider shop Ithaca, NY

wine and cider shop

the Cellar d'Or Mark Grimaldi

the Cellar d'Or Ithaca Commons cider and wine shop

 Thanks, Mark and Olivia, for sharing your thoughts and your shop with us!  

You can learn more about The Cellar d'Or by checking out their website.  Stay up to date with their tastings and other news and events (including this recent mention in the New York Times) by following the Cellar d'Or on Facebook or Twitter

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