Lew Purdy is an 80-year-old sole man

September 29, 2003|BRENDA S. EDWARDS

A Danville man has kept people on their feet for years with a selection of shoes from two companies he represents.

Lew Purdy, an independent sales representative, began selling Mason shoes 44 years ago this month while he was a foreman in a Cincinnati factory. He worked part-time for a couple of years, then became a full-time salesman. He actually celebrates his 44th anniversary as a shoe salesman Monday.

The Casey County native has driven thousands of miles and has won more than $100,000 in prizes for high sales. He won two automobiles in a nationwide sales competitions.

"I've had good success in the shoe business," said Purdy. "I've driven a many of a mile (to get to customers)."


He answered an advertisement in a Cincinnati newspaper to get the job because he needed something else to do. He now goes from business to business selling his products. Automobile dealerships and car repair and body shops are the best places for customers, he said.

Now Purdy thinks it's about time to slow down and may even retire since he turned 80 years old this year. He sold products for Mason Shoes in Chippewa Falls, Wis., for 17 years while living in Cincinnati, then returned to Kentucky and began selling for Knapp Shoes in New York, too.

The Knapp company has work and dress shoes for men and also women's shoes plus belts and socks. Mason only sells work shoes. The cost of the shoes ranges from $39.95 to $150 for men and from $25 to $75 for women.

Purdy is the oldest sales person who works for Mason Shoes. He said all of the Mason shoes are now manufactured in overseas factories but Knapp continues to make shoes in the United States.

While shoe sales have been good, Purdy said he has sold 12,000 mechanics' belts in the past 12 years. "I sell more of the belts than shoes," he said. The belts, made by Knapp Shoes, are popular because they wear well, he said.

After returning to Casey County, where he and his wife, Kathleen, were born and raised, Purdy expanded his business throughout this area.

"I've traveled all over Central Kentucky selling shoes," said Purdy.

He was selling his products in 20 towns, but has cutback due to problems with his vision.

"I might keep going if I could get someone to drive me."

Brenda S. Edwards can be reached at

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