Here at shinekits.com we have a simple goal - to sell high quality shoe shine kits made locally with locally sourced materials wherever possible. Our shoe shine boxes are made by local craftspeople using wood grown right here on Vancouver Island. We think we have that part of it nailed. But there's one item conspicuously missing from our shine boxes that you may have noticed. Yes - it's that wooden shoe-shaped doohickey on top.
Here's a picture of the kind of typical shoe shine box you see on many sites:
Notice the wooden foot rest on top. I think this fits many folks' notion of a traditional shoe shine box, but the question is - how useful is that thing, and is it the best design for your own shoe shine kit at home?
When I'm shining my own shoes at home, I have the shoe in one hand and I work the polish and brush with the other hand. There's no way you could put the shoe on a shoe rest on your box and have it stay still while you polish it. Similarly, you'd have to be mighty flexible to keep your shoe on your foot, get your foot up there and shine your own shoes while hunched over the box. That's because that wooden foot rest you see on a lot of boxes is really for shining other people's shoes.
It's a leftover from the days when you'd see kids on the street shining people's shoes for change. Here's a photo of a shoe shine boy at work back in the day:
This image gives you a good idea of how the wooden shoe holder is useful if you are a shoeshine boy, but is next to useless for shining your own shoes at home.
To us, the wooden shoe holder is a throwback that, while good for nostalgia, isn't practical on a modern day shoe shine box for home use. It makes the box awkward and unwieldy and prevents it from being stowed away easily in a closet or under a bed.
That's not to say we'll never make a shine box with a wooden shoe holder. We've discussed making a kit for professional shoe shiners, or maybe making a kit with a detachable shoe holder for people who want it all.
For now though, we think the best shoe shine box is one that is sturdy, beautiful to look at, made of quality materials, and is made right here in North America.