Tag Archives: travel

Vintage Cowboy Boots at “Cowboy Legends”

Buying vintage cowboy boots at Cowboy Legends couldn’t be any easier. Hundreds of pairs of “pre-enjoyed” boots… and all but a handful in wearable condition.

The only mystery is where did they came from? Row by row, they sit …lookin’ like their owners may be back for them anytime, these aren’t your thrift store cast-offs.

I literally spent hours enjoying the hospitality of shop owners, Lynné and Larry Jennings. Cowboy Legends is full of vintage boots, and overflowing with stories.

Get to the shop early, bring your coffee cup, and if you’re lucky there’ll still be an empty seat near the front desk. Cowboy Legends is a unique kind of “clubhouse” attracting boot collectors and more than a few other local “characters.”

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Benefits of buying vintage cowboy boots:

  • Good prices.
  • Better materials and craftsmanship then today’s ready-made boots.
  • Toe styles, leather colors & types you can’t find anymore except by ordering a custom pair.
  • Fit and color fading are known quantities.
  • … you will look sexy, cool and wise beyond your years.

Hanging on the wall are paintings (zoom) by longtime boot collector, Jack Pressler (see the Cowboy Boot Book, p. 116). Many of Jack’s paintings inspired classic Rocketbuster boot designs. Do you remember the old “True Love” boots?

Jack stopped in during my visit to Cowboy Legends …so I got to ask him, “Why there are so many vintage cowboy boots in Santa Fe?” He explained it’s because for all of history Santa Fe has been a trade route…first for the Indians, then for the Spanish… the Mexicans …and now for the Anglos.

I heard boot stories at almost every stop I made in Santa Fe, so many that a few pairs began to take on personalities of their own.

I heard about one pair of boots designed and worn by Tyler Beard (made by Kimmel Boots), which were spotted and bought back (mostly in jest) by Jim Arndt more than a two decades after the Tyler and the boots had parted ways. Then there was another pair of size 12’s that I swear were worn by nearly every man I talked to …past back and forth …until the boots were eventually bought back by their original owner years later. Wacky.

Lynné and Larry do their best to keep a selection of “collectible” boots on hand…but those hard-to-find makers’ labels, fancy inlays and “cloth pulls” will cost you extra. And there are always few boots in the corner, not for sale…but as ever-changing collection of conversation starters.

Cowboy Legends

227 Don Gaspar, Santa Fe, NM 87501 (map)


(505) 989-1554

— Click here to see more cowboy boots in Santa Fe, NM.

Tips on visiting a custom bootshop

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.)