2009 - Volume #33, Issue #2, Page #08[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Former Cowboy Makes Custom Boots
Customers come from all over the U.S. and as far as Japan to be measured for boots that Bartels guarantees will be comfortable. He has shelves filled with more than 200 lasts - shoe forms that he customizes with bits of leather for every bunion, hammertoe or other foot irregularity. Other shelves are filled with leather and exotic hides such as elephant, ostrich, kangaroo, shark and alligator for customers to choose from.
Bartels' priorities are: fit, function and cosmetics. He's particularly fussy about fit; customers must have their feet and calves measured in the morning, after a good night's rest, wearing regular socks.
"I just want my feet to feel good," customers tell him, and Bartels says, "Once they have custom boots, they never go back."
He also wants the boots to look good and has taken on challenges such as making a pair of turquoise kangaroo boots to match a bride's dress.
Bartels began making boots in the mid 1990's after studying with master boot maker Jack Reed in Texas. Bartels uses old-fashioned equipment to make his boots and saddles. He calls his tall, shapely cast iron sewing machines "the old girls."
Prices start at $650 for non-exotic leather boots. Saddles start at $1,800. Bartels has a seven-month backlog.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Buster & Company, Custom Boots and Saddles, Craig Bartels, 8285 68th St. S.W., Staples, Minn. 56479 (ph 218 397-2401; www.dimlights.com; bacboots@hotmail. com).
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