- The Old Rebel Boot Company
Out in Luckenbach, Texas ain’t nobody feelin’ no pain”
Everybody wants to know “Where do you find the boots?”. Well, now that’s a story as big as Texas. We only shoot cowboys down in the street and steal their boots as a last resort. Ladies never kiss and tell, but we’re in the mood for kissin’ and tellin’. So we thought we’d share our “secret sauce” with y’all – road trips, rag houses, and boot lootin’ in little Texas towns where they mean it when they say Main Street. Put your boots up, and ride herd on the tales of our boot adventures.
Raiding The Raghouses
Old Rebel’s roots and our hearts are in the raghouses, where we first got our toes wet in this boot buying adventure ten years ago. Raghouses, from L.A. to the Carolinas and everywhere else in between, are huge converted factory warehouses that have seen better days, surrounded by tall barbed wire fences and a fleet of trucks delivering product from all over the country. Taco trucks arrive at noon to feed the multi-national workers who stand on cement floors in front of conveyor belts and sort the products eight hours a day.
Inside, the raghouses are filled to the rafters with towering stacks of 500 pound boxes packed with every textile ever made and discarded. It is where everything you donate, throw away or misplace ends up. The raghouses are incredibly noisy – boomboxes and chatter in a hundred different languages compete to be heard over conveyor belts, forklifts, and huge aged industrial ceiling fans on their last legs. This is like the world’s greatest garage sale – miles of old t-shirts, dirty tennis shoes, sparkly 80s clubwear, faded flannel shirts, and of course thousands of pounds of boots once loved by posers, ranchers and weekend cowboys and now discarded. Great boots, cheap boots and wrecked boots all jumbled together, with the occasional Paul Bond buckaroo boots or Larry Mahan ponyhair boots buried beneath a layer of Mexican-made ropers and manmade ankle boots. There are the boots that break your hearts, gorgeous old things that are too worn to revive; and boots that make the whole trip worthwhile, mint condition custom made boots from one of the bootmaking masters.
This is not easy work. Its hard, physical labor, a grueling marathon workout. We look for a space with the best lighting – not always easy to find, with the flickering overhead fluorescent lights – and wait for a forklift to bring the first of many five hundred pound gaylord boxes and dump the contents on the ground for us to sort through. Its a mountain of boots, dazzling in its volume and possibilities. We roll up our sleeves and get to work, picking, sorting, rejoicing, rejecting, checking soles, linings, skins, hides. Eight hours of squat, twist, throw – squat down, pick up a pair of boots and twist to throw them in the yes box, the maybe box, the no box. Four hours in, and the dust, the dirt and the seeming impossibility of picking through all these boots has us almost giddy, throwing “maybes” in ” the yes box. A quick break and we’re back at it again. We may be there all day picking , maybe two to three days more if the house is big enough and the boots promising enough. The great trips yield us five to ten thousand pounds of boots, which will be loaded on trucks to be shipped to us at restoration headquarters in Minneapolis. On the way home, we swear we’ll never do another raghouse run. Too much work, money, time and hassle. But there are always more boots to be found, and the boots, the raghouses and the road always call to us again.
We love raghouses because they are symbolic of the fact that everything has value, regardless of its appearance, condition, location or origins. There is a niche, a market for everything, and while some things require repurposing, everything can be reused and re-appreciated. Raghouses are messy and grungy and filled with endless possibilities. So we search through mountains of boots, amidst the noise and grime, because we like to find the boot in the box, the needle in the haystack and the dream in the dust.
Boot Lootin’ Across Texas
Blame it all on Thelma and Louise. Road trips just ain’t been the same ever since.
Becoming Thelma and Louise – rebels on the open road – seemed like a sound ambition. So we hit the road and headed for Texas to do some boot lootin’, where boots are as plentiful as beer and pickup trucks, and the cowboys are good lookin’.
We wound up in New Braunfels, where kitsch and cowboy hang their hats on the same peg. Texas pride, found art and shabby chic boutiques selling everything from dresses to Route 66 signs make New Braunfels the sassy little sister of nearby Roundtop, the coolest antique and fleamarket anywhere. A few miles out of town, in a weathered wood emporium of everything cowboy, we found enough fine old boots to make a boot addict out of anyone. Bought em all – Mama didn’t raise no fools.
You’ll find em on our sale pages, so go take a look. Listen to your inner Good Time Charlie, and get yourself some wicked good kicks.
We’ll be posting pics of all our road trips, including this one, on our blog, so come along for the ride.