Panhandle Spirit: Making boots by hand for more than 100 years

Jeremy Pool and Carlos Quiroz represented Texas and Beck Cowboy Boots at the Made in America Showcase at the White House in July(Courtesy The White House)

In a retail world where sometimes even overnight delivery isn’t fast enough for consumers, there’s a shop in Amarillo that still does things the old-fashioned way. Just like the original owners did it more than 100 years ago—handmade and custom-fit.

“It takes us about 4 months start to finish to make a pair,” said Jeremy Pool, co-owner of Beck Cowboy boots.

While some might find it impossible to wait that long for an order, Pool says the quality keeps generations of customers coming back.

“I don’t know if we have any going back five generations from the 20’s but we get grandfather, and father and grandsons, so we’ve got several families that wear our boots,” Pool said.

Pool and his co-owner, Carlos Quiroz, are sold on keeping a tradition alive that started when twin brothers Earl and Bearl Beck bought a boot shop in Dalhart in 1916. They moved it to Amarillo five years later.

“No shortcuts, good leather, handmade boots, and we’re still doing it the exact same way,” Pool said.

Pool and Quiroz were both hired by Earl’s son, Harry, about 15 years ago, before he eventually sold the business to them. Pool was hired primarily for his business acumen. Quiroz was working in another leather shop. He brought his own family tradition to the new store, having learned about leatherwork and making shoes at the age of 12.

“We learned this from Grandpa, so it’s generations, you know, a lot of stories in my life,” Quiroz said.

The shop has a display case by the door, with boots and memorabilia that hold special significance.

There’s a small, well-worn boot that belonged to Harry Beck when he was in grade school. There’s an autographed picture of a pair of boots that were sold to the “King of Western Swing” Bob Wills. All along the walls, there are black and white pictures of the Beck brothers, and of workers in the shop. There are old envelopes, letters, and invoices in frames, dating back to the 1930’s. Pool says their customer tally is around 12,000 now. Thanks to the internet and word of mouth, they sell to customers all over the country, and around the world. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz bought eight pair for his offensive linemen.

Believing quality takes time, this small staff makes 8 pairs of boots a day, and they wouldn’t have it any other way, preferring a production line rooted in the Panhandle Spirit.

“A lot of them are being made in China these days. They’re mass produced. Ours are all handmade, one at a time, and they’re custom-fit, so there’s your main difference there. The quality’s a lot better. The quality control is a lot better,” Pool said.

“I learn something new every you need a lot of years to learn,” said Quiroz.

They also got a thrill when they were invited to the White House last summer, representing the entire state of Texas for President Trump’s “Made in America” showcase. They both called it a day they’ll never forget.

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