During the hustle and bustle of ArtPrize, a Wolverine Company Store quietly opened in downtown Grand Rapids. I stumbled upon it just by walking around town, which is always the best way to discover the hidden gems in the cities you live in or visit, by the way.
The authentic, old-world charm of the shop is what impressed me the most. The gold leaf lettering in the store front window, vintage Steelcase desk and chairs, and reclaimed wood furniture pieces from the early leather and shoe factories blend perfectly with the exposed brick of the building interior.
They had all the best brands WWW has to offer, including Sebago, Wolverine, CAT, Cushe, Merrell, and Hush Puppies. Their Hush Puppies shoes is what impressed me the most. Previously when I thought of Hush Puppies, I immediately thought of Payless. Not anymore. They were very well designed and made from incredible materials. Merrell has stepped up their game, as well.
The 1000 Mile Boot is made from an extremely rare type of leather that is softer and more comfortable than any other leather available. We learned from the store proprietor that the leather comes from the backside of a horse. The reason why it is so limited and costly is because it is illegal to slaughter a horse, so the leather tannery has to wait for the horse to die naturally before they can utilize its hide. (This particular boot is the 721 LTD model)
The beauty of the Wolverine boots is that they can last as long as you can last in them. I've heard over and over again that it is very common for people to have the same pair of boots for 20 or 30+ years. They've been best described as investments rather than purchases. I can now see why.
Speaking of lasting a long time, this vintage Steelcase desk and chair were both taken from the Wolverine factory in Rockford, Mi. There is nothing better than mid-century Steelcase -- it lasts forever!
Old advertisements of the different Wolverine Worldwide brands and photos of the early factory workers and salesmen do very well in sharing the history of the company.
The experience in this boutique-sized shop is worth it in itself to visit. To be greeted by the shop proprietor and feel the history of the shoes is so much different than we've grown accustomed to in the shopping mall and online stores. This is how shopping should be: quality over quantity.
Make it a point to visit the Wolverine Company Store (40 Monroe Center Ave, Grand Rapids, MI 49503) and "Like" them on Facebook for updates and more info.