1. Always make an appointment! Many bootmakers have their shops at home. Business hours vary greatly…for good and for bad.
2. Ask if there are photos or cowboy boots in the shop for you to see. When bootmakers know you’re coming sometimes they can hold on to a finished pair for a little while before shipping them out. I’ve been places where the only boots in the shop were the ones on the bootmaker’s feet.
3. Don’t do too much drinkin’ or dancin’ the night before your visit. If your feet are unusually swollen it will interfere with your measurements. (This can go for long airplane rides as well.) Most people like afternoon appointments because it’s often a “happy medium” for boot fit.
4. Bring your checkbook. Relatively few bootmakers take credit cards. Most often when you buy a pair of custom cowboy boots you’ll be asked to pay half the amount at the time of the order, and the rest when your boots are finished.
5. Wear clean socks. Pick a pair similar to the ones you are planning on wearing with your boots. Your foot measurements will be taken with your pant legs pulled up and your socks on.
6. Put the bootmaker’s phone number on your cell phone’s speed dial …some boot shops are really “off the beaten path.”
7. Be honest with the bootmaker and respectful of their time. In one-person shops all bootmaking stops when you walk in the door. If you are just stopping by to say “howdy” and look at their work…make it a short visit. Bootmakers will gladly take your measurements if you’re a serious customer, but staying two hours, getting fitting and planning out a pair of boot that you never order …just isn’t cool.
PHOTO: After 15 years of bootmaking, Brian Thomas has just opened his shop in Abilene, Texas. Better act fast before his waitlist gets too long! Contact Mr. Thomas at B17CREWDOG@aol.com (…or phone 325-672-2344.)