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Shoe-tree market sprouting with new firms CHICAGO -- A traditionally quiet and isolated niche in the footwear industry -- shoe trees -- is suddenly picking up speed with a new image, market expansion, new companies, and increased competition.
The market, which was dominated by one company for years, suddenly has greeted a flood of new competition. Still, observers said, a good portion of the growing demand is still going unrequited.
Since 1980, at least five new shoe tree companies have opened to capitalize on the field, dominated so long by Rochester Shoe Tree Co. Inc., Ashland, N.H. Executives of Rochester said they are at or near production capacity, and, while they concede the market is bound to reach a saturation point eventually, they can not predict when.
Nearly all of the shoe tree companies in the U.S. plan expansions and have just completed new factories or added new shifts to boost production.
Still, retailers and manufacturers said they can not get the type of high-grade shoe …