"Wait, so you REALLY make the shoes here?!"
"Yes, we make everything here in house. Would you like a tour of the factory?"
Stop by the SOM Footwear factory on a Thursday afternoon and you will probably hear a conversation like this between a curious visitor and SOM co-owner Nathalie Bouchard.
When you drive into the small city of Montrose, you probably wouldn't guess that it is the home of Colorado's only sneaker factory. With a strong agricultural background and quaint Main Street, Montrose sits nestled in the Uncompahgre Valley on the Western Slope of Colorado. If you ask me, Montrose is the coolest little town you've never heard of.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park by Mike Boese, Peak Life Photography
It's not a picturesque ski town, and it lacks most of the big city amenities of the Front Range. But I can ride my bicycle to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park from my home in downtown Montrose. We've also enjoyed desert trail runs through Dominguez Canyon on a Saturday and then been spoiled with a powder day on the world renowned slopes of Telluride on Sunday.
When you pull up to the factory, the first thing you will notice will be our newest Advertising Representative, Shoezi. Shoezi is the latest addition to the SOM Team. He's tall, handsome, and always has a smile on his face as he waves and welcomes you to the factory.
Step into the factory and you will probably be greeted by Nathalie, SOM's co-founder/co-owner. From here, she will let you choose your own adventure. Whether you have 5 minutes or an hour to spend at the factory, we've got something for everybody.
Starting at the factory's outlet store, you'll find the walls lined with colorful shoes. While we do have a few of our latest models on display, the main attraction of the weekly outlet store is our discounted and discontinued models as well as some special edition shoes. You'll also be able to see some of our prototypes from over the years, and if you're lucky you might even get a sneak peak of our latest projects!
Once you're done browsing the outlet, why not take a free tour of the factory? To the best of our knowledge, there are only 4 other sneaker factories left in America so this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for most of our visitors!
On the tour, you'll get to meet our staff (including SOM's founder and head shoe maker Olie Marchal) and learn as much (or as little) about the shoe making process as you're interested in. We've given tours to folks of all ages, from bright eyed groups of Kindergarten students to curious seniors and everyone in between.
Following a tour, it is not uncommon to overhear Olie and Nathalie chatting with our visitors about their latest weekend excursions in the back country or the next big race they are training for.
"Thanks for the tour! It's so great that you are making shoes here in the United States! I hope you stay here!"
Olie always responds with "Don't worry, we aren't going anywhere!"