I met a couple at the next table at dinner in a neighborhood restaurant. They had owned a shoe repair shop nearby since the early 1970’s. We connected when I mentioned being one of the founding partners in a business called Shoe Goo.
A group of us founded Shoe Goo in 1973 in Menlo Park California. A group of us were runners who ran together on the track between the Portola Institute and the Stanford Research Institute. I was one of four board members of Portola, an education research group. The chief was Dick Raymond who was a key runner (Dick died a few months ago). Others included Doug Engelbart from SRI now noted for inventing the ‘mouse’ and Bill English, first manager of Xerox Parc where the modern computer screen interface was invented. Another runner was the founder of Runner’s World magazine who moved to Portland and helped found Nike.
The importance of this running group has to do with the shoes we all wore: sneakers, also called tennis shoes. Sneakers, when used for running, wear out quickly. We were running long distances in those days. I ran 6 miles around Golden Gate Park every Saturday and Sunday with friends, in sneakers.
The solution was found by Dick Raymond who created a product called Shoe Goo. A black plastic gel in a tube that we used to put on the worn out heels of our shoes.
We started marketing Shoe Goo in the same designed tube that still carries its name. Another friend who was a hot shot in marketing, Paul Hawken, offered to be one of the partners and do the marketing which was becoming hard for Dick who had plenty of other things we were doing. Sales grew rapidly for two year, then Paul announced that we had to sell the product to Kiwi because we were in too vulnerable a spot with only with one supplier of our raw material.
We all took double or triple our investment (a few thousand dollars) and thanked Paul. Dick was not so obliging and held a grudge against Paul for years.
Our new friends in the shoe repair business told a story that I had never heard about Shoe Goo. They said Shoe Goo was great for creating an adhesive surface. If you couldn’t get a new sole or heel to attach to a shoe bottom, put Shoe Goo on the surface and leave it overnight. The next day anything could be glued to it with traditional shoe repair glues.
Now you’ve read my story. Look on Wikipedia. You’ll find a product of the same name with the same design with a completely different history from Southern California. It is in the top hundred products by sales volume on Amazon in sports goods.
Kiwi had a similar product on Amazon called Kiwi Shoe and Boot Repair which now has a different label.
What is the real story about Shoe Goo?