What’s the most popular item that meeting attendees bring back home from Texas? You guessed it–cowboy boots!
“One of the reasons we built a store in this location—the Stockyards—is to serve the meetings market,” says Mark Dunlap, general manager of M. L. Leddy’s, considered one of the state’s finest boot-makers. “But we’ve been around Fort Worth for a long time—since 1941, in fact.”
Cowboy boots became prominent in Fort Worth during the days of the big packing companies (such as Armour and Swift), when cowboys would drive huge herds into town, after journeys of hundreds of miles. Now, of course, they’re daily wear for many, a fashion accessory for some and just a lot of fun for others.
“The first question we always ask is what the boot will be used for,” Dunlap says. “Ranch work? Business wear? Weekend barbecues? Then we try to narrow the focus a bit, with regard to color, style, type of toe, type of heel, type of leather, etc.”
Comfort is the primary consideration, he says, adding that for many people, boot size is different than their shoe size. So, at M. L. Leddy’s, they’ll take the time to measure your foot—from every angle.
Leddy’s has 1,000 to 1,500 pairs of boots in the store at any time, most starting around $400 and ranging up to $900 for its trademark Leddy Vaquero boot. Custom boots, though, are priced differently. You may pay anywhere from $1,000 to $15,000. And you’ll have to wait about 15 months to get them; that’s how high the demand is for Leddy’s boots.
“But it’s worth the wait,” Dunlap says. “Because if we’ve done our job right, they’ll be the most comfortable shoes you’ll ever have.”