Remember When? Hope for Gladstone business is short-lived

GLADSTONE – An early Gladstone company that started up in 1921 had a promising, but short existence in the town.

According to “Gladstone Centennial History – 1887-1987,” J.L. Ludwig, who was a representative of the Eady Shoe Company of Otsego, Mich., came to Gladstone in January 1921 and reported that the company had more business than it could handle and Ludwig wanted to start a branch factory. He said he would require an investment of about $30,000 and he would put up $10,000 if local investors would subscribe to $20,000 worth of stock. He said the plant would employ about 40 people and turn out about 200 pairs of children’s shoes per day.

The Delta Reporter Newspaper gave Ludwig unqualified support and $7,000 of the local money was soon obtained. By late February, enough money had been subscribed so that machinery was purchased, a building was rented, and a few people were hired to begin production.

On May 19, long-time Gladstone business man, Robert Hupy, then 11 months old, became the first Gladstone child to wear a pair of Gladstone-made shoes. His dad, Phil Hupy, bought them for him. They were size 4.

On June 7, the company made its first shipment. Production was said to be up to 200 pairs a day and there were “more orders than can be handled.” The directors were said to be “very pleased with the progress of the company.”

On Aug. 26, an offer by the International Shoe Company of St. Louis, Mo., to buy the company was rejected. According to The Reporter, the International Shoe Company then ordered 100,000 pairs of shoes from the local factory. This, the editor said, “Can be regarded as a vote of confidence.”

In November, Ludwig made a trip to the Eady Company’s main office at Otsego. On the way back, he said he “stopped off in Chicago and Milwaukee and sold enough shoes to keep the factory going for another six months.”

Despite this rosy prognosis, there must have been an almost immediate shutdown.

On June 30, 1922, The Reporter noted that the Eady shoe factory, which had been shut down for about six months, had been damaged by fire.