Editorial: Much ado about competition

Courtesy of the Rockford Register Star, Palace Shoe Service, 204 N. Main St., received some extra ado about the testimonial ad they have been running in this paper for four months.

The color ad, promoting their hand-made Tauer & Johnson shoes, proclaims the comfort and quality of the custom footwear—via statements from three customers, complete with their photos.

“My T&Js are the most comfortable dress shoes I’ve ever owned. And the Giamalvas are a great family with a great downtown business tradition!” contributed Rockford Bank & Trust Executive Vice President M. Shawn Way. He’s at the new bank across the parking lot in the Morrissey Building.

Yes, sons Tom, Dave, and father, Lou Giamalva are carrying on the family business that started in 1926. Many of our readers’ parents and even grandparents may have brought them into the busy little shop. Mine did. With each visit, the sight and whirl of the green antique shoe repair machines, the smell of leather and shoe polish and a friendly greeting brings me back in time.

Another neighbor, working out of the bus station two blocks away, put in his 2 cents, too. “I always had trouble wearing new shoes from other stores, but my Tauer & Johnson’s from Palace were comfortable from the first day! I own 8 pairs and I’ll buy more,” contributed RMTD Operator Julio C. Rios.

For that matter, I own two pairs, black oxfords and pennyloafers. The shoes are so comfortable, I call them “moving mattresses for my feet.” I can remember showing them off in my shop, and saying “They’re really squishy inside, and they’re tough and good looking.” The oxfords went great with my tux at the River District’s Red Ball this year.

Another founder of the River District, now the mayor of Rockford, Larry Morrissey, is also in the ad—hence the daily’s front page headline Nov. 23—“This message brought to you by the mayor,” complete with a picture of a pair of Tauer & Johnson wingtips. This front-page short story referred readers to the long story on the front page of the State & Local section, “Morrissey: Lawyer, mayor and pitchman,” which was continued on page 2 of that section. As odd as two stories on the same story has always been to me, the daily really gave the Giamalvas some ink and the mayor a little jab.

The front-page short story concluded: “Morrissey, long-time customer of the shoe repair store, says his shoe endorsement was a one-time thing. He doubts he’ll be doing others.”

The front-page, long story noted: “The testimonial print ad appeared several times in the past few months on the pages of The Rock River Times, a free weekly news publication.”

Although they got our price right, actually, the ad has run every other week for four months, and is running through May 3, 2006. The Giamalvas and Tauer & Johnson owner Ken Johnson are smart and prepaid for the ad, receiving a 15 percent discount. Call us about those rates, if you’re interested, at 964-9767.

We’ve had many people interested in our advertisers over the years; not all of their interest has been kindly oriented.

Because he didn’t like one of our editorials, a recent Letter to the Editor writer advised our readers who agreed with him to go after our advertisers.

Our full-page ads really seem to draw the fire, for obvious reasons.

A case in point: a Humphrey Cadillac and Olds employee alleged the car dealership discontinued their ads because a prominent figure in the Winnebago County Courthouse really leaned on the owner.

The same was the case with our full-page ads from the Jack Wolf dealership; however besides the aforementioned, pressure allegedly came from many influential “Republicans.” Oh, how soon some forget our editorials calling for the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Obviously, their head bone is not connected to their free speech bone.

Picking this small ad bone with the mayor, the daily went all the way to ethics professor Kent Redfield at the U of I in Springfield, who said, “Public officials have to bend over backwards to avoid conflicts of interest and appearance of conflicts.”

I suggest the daily was bending over backwards for a story.

Since they treated the Giamalvas really well, here’s the headline this editor would have suggested to those editors, “Mayor helps small business,” for the short story, and “Good news: mayor, good neighbor and family friend,” for the long story.

A common problem today is how disconnected citizens feel from their politicians. Morrissey stays in touch. As for the others, some of us even wonder when they get elected if they have to take every kind and common bone out of their bodies in some secret Water buffalo ritual. Just kidding!

Seriously, Tom Giamalva said of Morrissey; “Because he’s a friend and a long-time customer, this should not reflect negatively on him. I just feel that anybody who tried on the shoes would feel they were the most comfortable shoes they ever wore and would be willing to give testimony as a customer.”


Both The Rock River Times and the Giamalvas say, “Thanks for the mention!” to our dear friends at the daily.

Personally, call us if you need any advertising advice, because as your short story said, the Giamalvas thought the ad was “a fun and effective way to spread the word….And they were right.”

So to all at the Rockford Register Star, thanks for the testimonial! And yes, our mayor was a decent guy to help out and set himself out for criticism—for nothing in return—he paid full price for his shoes. Obviously, Larry, the Giamalvas and ourselves, all know what it’s like to walk in another’s Tauer & Johnson’s—honestly, fairly and with a smile.

From the Nov. 30-Dec. 6, 2005, issue

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