As we make our way across the country visiting our favorite retail stores, we had to shed light on the Pecan Capital of the World-San Saba, Texas. One of the most memorable landmarks for tourists to visit in this unique Texas town is Harry’s Boots. From its deep-rooted history to substantial inventory, this family owned and operated western store transcends the definition of a shop earning its spot as more of a Texas icon.
What began as one small building has expanded into a mega western wear store in five conjoined buildings. “Over the last 79 years, there have been three different owners [of Harry’s Boots]. All three have been Mayor of San Saba, Texas,” explains Karoline Jordan, Buyer/Manager of Harry’s Boots. Harry and his father, Ike Shapiro, first founded Harry’s Boots in 1939. Later, they opened a women’s department store across the street which eventually occupied the conjoining building to the original Harry’s Boots and morphed into one store. When Harry passed away in the 70’s, his family sold the store to some of the employees. During their reign, they purchased two additional conjoining buildings. In 2008, Ken and his wife Kynda Jordan purchased the store. Ken, who is currently mayor of the town, and Kynda were not first time entrepreneurs. They owned and operated San Saba’s Jordan Cattle Auction prior to taking on the store. Once they purchased the store they began a slow and thoughtful renovation in efforts to enhance the original features of these old buildings and charm of their town.
The Jordan’s renovation started with the addition of a fifth building. They tore down the plaster-covered walls and exposed gorgeous native sandstone rock. Beginning in 1929, the hardware store would document the strange and crazy local Texas weather from extreme rain to droughts and the random March snowstorms. The “weather wall” is now the back wall of the women’s section in Harry’s Boots. The Jordans’ daughter Karoline played a key role in the restoration and design of the store. She explains its current state as a mix of rustic and industrial while maintaining a homey feel that is open and easy to shop. The family was able to recover most of the original hardwood floors that were painted yellow. Karoline notes, “We get city folks that come in and their kids have never walked on a true hardwood floor. They are like ‘Am I going to fall through?’ because you hear all of the kricking.”
Today, this massive five-building store feels authentic. When visitors walk through the front door, they are greeted by the smell of leather. “They just take a big inhale through their nose and say, ‘Ahh the leather.’ It is something that you cannot describe to anybody. They have to walk in, and it just hits them.” Customers then move through the various buildings and rooms in a natural flow. The expansiveness of the store definitely adds to its charm. Not only is the architecture impressive, but so is the inventory. The Jordans utilized the different buildings and rooms to help divide the store into departments. Paying tribute to the original name, boots do make up a large section of the store. However, do not be fooled by the name. Harry’s Boots offers a large selection of other products. Three of the five buildings are dedicated to menswear: mens clothing, jeans, hunting gear, work shirts, shoes and work boots. In addition, there is an entire room dedicated to straw and felt hats. Two buildings are stocked full of women’s clothing, boots, and accessories. Karoline explains, “I try really hard to provide options for all age ranges. So, I may get a particular item that my 16 year old sister can wear, I can wear, my mom can wear, and my 84 year old grandma can wear. We may wear it differently, but we can all make it work in our own style.”
Our relationship with Harry’s Boots started with their love of jewelry. “We have the leather [J.Forks] earrings, and the long necklaces, so it kind of sets that tone for a boho western feel for us.” Karoline explains that they utilize jewelry to set the mood and tone of the entire womens department. You will find jewelry on the entry tables and on mannequins. “[Jewelry] completes all of our outfits that we put on display. Every single mannequin has accessories on [that] sets the whole outfit together.”
Karoline’s favorite part of playing a key role in Harry’s Boots is getting to work alongside her father. Regardless of the stunning architecture and phenomenal inventory, the true heartbeat of Harry’s Boots comes from the love of this family. Though Ken is usually at the Cattle Auction or attending to his mayorly duties, Karoline notes that they go to market and work on the business decisions together. Her mother, Kynda, also plays a large role in the store by overseeing the finances, working with Karoline on the window displays and decorating, and assisting in the accessory purchasing decisions as she is a jewelry fanatic.
Harry’s Boots is truly a special place and a Texas Icon. We strongly encourage you to make the trip to San Saba, and shop at this wonderful store. On December, 15th, they will be celebrating their 79th anniversary with a party and customer appreciation!