A Family owned and operated USA Shoe manufacturing company-Three generations to date.
The evolution of Tic-Tac-Toes Manufacturing Co. who currently makes Square Dance Shoes, Shagging Shoes, Organist Shoes, Choir Shoes, Chorus Shoes Latin Dancing Shoes, Ballroom Shoes, Men’s Dancing Shoes, Theatrical Shoes, Street shoes, Curveture Comfort Shoes, Vintage shoes, Patio shoes and markets the “Tubums” line of washable slippers traces it’s lineage to the year 1906.
In 1906 Leo Winig opened a women’s high fashion glove manufacturing company in (what was then) Abertham, Austria as Winig & Son (Lederhandschuh-Fabrik). Born also in 1906, his son Norbert entered the business in 1927 selling gloves through-out Europe.
He went to England in 1928 to complete his business studies and learn the English language with the ultimate goal to sell gloves into the United States. By 1929, Norbert was sailing twice a year to the U.S. in order to sell gloves into the U.S. market.
With the 1929 stock market crash and the ensuing world wide depression, Norbert and his family emigrated to the United States in 1930. There was still a market in the US for high grade European dress gloves even during the depression. By 1936, it had become virtually impossible to import from Europe because of the political conditions. To continue to service the US market, Norbert opened his own glove factory in New York City in 1936. The base of the glove industry in the United States was a town in upstate New York called Gloversville. The city had developed from pre-Revolutionary War days as a leather tanning area because of the original English settlers and their knowledge of leather tanning and the very good neutral density of its water supply. In 1940-41 the NYC factory was moved to Gloversville, NY..
By 1950, the domestic dress glove industry had started to fall on hard times due to a general change in women’s everyday dress and because of imported gloves from Europe. In particular, the owner of one of the very large glove manufacturers in Fulton County had been a member of the War Procurement Board and following WWII had helped in Marshall Plan by getting the French glove industry back on its feet.
Norbert’s son Bob was now 10 years old, and as such didn’t give it much of a thought when a telephone call came from the plumber who normally took care of plumbing items at his house. He promptly forgot to tell his father that the plumber had called asking to speak with him. Some 3 weeks later, the plumber was fixing something at the house and asked Mrs.Winig why Norbert had never returned the call. As it turned out, the plumber’s brother-in-law worked at Heacock Belt Company in Rochester, NY. They were looking for someone to manufacture for them a house slipper that they were selling as part of their product line. What started as an almost missed reckoning ended up with a full transition from gloves into slippers by 1954.
By 1966 the Winig Slipper Corporation was producing 7500 pair a day employing 375 people. Also in 1966, after serving with the US Military, Bob joined the company.
With the invention and advent of panty hose in 1968, once again fashion standards changed. Now with the shortening of hemlines, higher heeled shoes were called for which necessitated new production techniques and styles. Through out the 1970’s and 1980’s, the domestic shoe manufacturing industry showed constant declines due to imports first from Brazil, and Taiwan and then mainland China.
In 1989 Bob took over the management of what was now Winig Shoe Corporation/Tic-Tac-Toes Mfg Co. In that same year, a customer in West Virginia called to ask if one of the styles they were carrying could be made with a split leather outsole as they wanted to use it for many of their Square Dance customers. Thus was the transition started from general line street shoes into Dancing Shoes.
In 1996, Paul Johnson, a well known person in the shoe industry had joined tic-tac-toes. Through his efforts the line of dance shoes was broadened to include specialty shoes for theme parks, theatrical, organist and other niche markets. His untimely death in 1998 was a large blow to the people in the company.
Today, the question of whether a 4th generation might one day continue the legacy is still unknown.