On Saturday, February 26, 2005, I saw an ad in the Houston Chronicle that, after 87 years, Palace Boot Shop is going out of business. It made my heart heavy. |
I love boots. And I own a lot of them. So many that I am disqualified from teasing women about the number of shoes they own.
And all but a pair or two of my boots come from Palace Boot Shop in Houston. Luccheses and Tony Lamas and custom boots made right there at the shop. I started buying boots from Palace in the early 70's when I worked down the street. And the fact that they were just a couple of blocks from the Courthouse made it easy to stop by. I didn't do that as often as I wanted (stopped by that is) because I seldom left the place without a smile on my face and a new pair of boots in my hand. Or on my feet.
And nobody repairs boots like they do. Once, I had the misfortune of cutting the toe of my favorite Luccheses on a rock. This was no ordinary scuff. It was deep. The leather was cut in several places. I told them they were my favorite boots. When I asked them what they could do with the cuts they just shook their heads sadly. But I was confident. And desperate. In the way only a man can get when he thinks he is going to have to retire his favorite boots. So I bought a new pair just like the old ones and told them to do the best they could. When I say "just like the old ones" you know I don't mean it. Sure, the brand, style and color were exactly the same. But what was missing was the years my feet had invested in making the old pair "just right." Anyway, Palace called in a couple of days to say the old pair was ready. I went in with some dread. I wasn't sure what to expect. But they had worked wonders. The boots looked like new. Except they also looked (and felt) just like the old friends they were. I'm wearing them right now, while I type this farewell. They are as comfortable as any moccasins I have ever had. Thank you Palace for returning them to me as good as ever.
I don't know if the changing real estate market played a part in the decision to close, but I wouldn't be surprised. The store hasn't changed much since the first time I entered. But the neighborhood has. And the small shop atmosphere along this stretch of Prairie is rapidly disappearing.
I do know that I am sad to see this shop go. I always felt at home when entering. I always felt that I was welcome, and that the folks who run Palace liked having me as a customer. And wanted me to be happy. It was capitalism at its finest. The boots were priced fairly and the selection and service were first class. You could tell that Palace Boot Shop was a labor of love. It was an example of a small business at its finest.
It will be missed.
February 27, 2005
Copyright © 2005 Donald Ray Burger. All Rights Reserved.
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