Yesterday, I spent some time at the Fort Worth Stockyards. The Steampunk Illumination Society had planned an outing to the Stockyards for some point in late 2010, but when logistics failed on multiple occasions, the trip was canceled. I determined that I would visit the stockyards for myself just to have a quick look-see, as the last time I was there, I was too young to remember anything of any consequence.
So off I went to the Stockyards, and much of it was just as I expected it to be: a tourist trap filled with lots of Fort Worth and southwestern branded junk people will likely buy and forget about. But among the unremarkable and the mass produced, there are a few master craftsmen still practicing their art in the Stockyards. For those interested in the Weird/Wild West flavor of Steampunk, it’s places like this that are truly not to be missed.
Tucked away off the main drag in the Stockyards is a little shop called the Ponder Boot Company. When you walk into this place, you become distinctly aware that you have entered someone’s workshop, rather than their store. There’s skins of all variety of creature hanging, folded, rolled, and scattered about the floor of the shop awaiting their transformation into a custom leather item.
As referenced in their name, custom boots are their specialty. I was able to meet Mr. Jose de la luz Ramirez, a Master Bootmaker who told me he’s been making boots for, “Fifty… uh… something years.” And by leafing through their portfolios and observing dresser drawers stuffed with photographs of past creations, it became quite clear that there isn’t something that Mr. Ramirez can’t do with leather.
What’s truly unique about Ponder Boots is that I was able to personally meet the maker of all the items that were produced by the store. This wasn’t something where Mr. Ramirez took the measurements and then they were shipped out to Mexico or El Salvador for someone else to make a custom boot. These are hand crafted by Mr. Ramirez himself, a true local artisan, to the exact specifications of his customer in the Fort Worth Stockyards. I watched him take measurements and draw up the design for a pair of alligator boots for my father:
That's Jose and my dad in the mirror
So, needless to say, if you find yourself in Fort Worth and in need of a pair of real, custom made boots created right in the place you were measured for them, Ponder Boots is a really unique experience for top of the line, hand crafted boots that will go perfectly with any Steampunk wardrobe.
To see the shop, head down to 2358 N. Main Street, Fort Worth, TX 76106 or visit their website.