I was going to write a blog post this morning… but this is so much better. Go to David Rogerson’s flickr page and read his photo caption about “waiting.” It’s perfect.
Then go and read some more. Meet some of the all-stars of bootmaking. Visit Texas boot shops in San Antonio, Austin, Lampasas, up to Abilene. Dave does a beautiful job of storytelling. You feel like you were there… then you’re a little sad you weren’t.
“A picture’s worth a thousand words,” that’s what people like me say when we’re being lazy. Enjoy.
This trip to Texas I retraced some very special steps.
When Tex Robin moved his shop a couple of years ago, I admit I got all sappy and nostalgic over him leaving that old brick building in Coleman.
…but I’ve come to my senses. Welcome to Abilene! Gone are the fire hazards and all the pesky walk-in-and-out traffic. And look! …the walls go straight up and down, and there is my favorite display case…and look over there, there’s even a working electrical socket dedicated to Tex Robin’s guitar and amp.
Tex is doing some beautiful bootmaking. Killer inlays or one-row stitch patterns… doesn’t matter, all good…really good. But be warned, ordering boots from Tex is not for the thin-skinned or the faint of heart. By appointment only. Long wait… and if Tex doesn’t like your design, he’s gonna tell you so. That’ll never change.
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.)
Custom made, vintage and popular cowboy boot brands. Advice from author & expert, Jennifer June (& others) about buying cowboy boots online.