The Saddlery

For the third time in about 30 years, Husband had his favorite pair of brown Frye boots resoled and a new heel put on. He also had his new pair of black Frye boots streched in the toes, so now they fit perfectly. He admits he is both fussy and vain about his boots, and plans to wear them forever.

He is fortunate to live here, where it is easy to find a place for getting your boots fixed expeditiously, along with your saddle, harnesses, and any leather article associated with your horse. He only had to go without his boots for two days. I suppose the guy at Duke’s Saddlery is more of a harness maker than a cobbler. He is a Vietnam veteran and has been in business here for decades. He had a whole pile of cowboy boots to fix in his shop. Once you get a pair of boots to fit, you want to keep them as long as you can. They are essential work equipment out here. I don’t know where people get their lassos fixed. Husband thinks you have to go to Casper, WY for that sort of specialty work.

What are you fussy and vain about? Do you ever have footwear professionally repaired? What do your shoes say about you? What are some specialty shops that are only found in the region where you live?

69 thoughts on “The Saddlery”

  1. I don”t suppose that I’m fussy about much of anything, but that makes me relatively apathetic, doesn’t it? Before I retired and moved to North America from Taiwan, I would occasionally have shoes repaired by a guy who had a sidewalk stand near the local wet-market. I did that because my feet are larger than most Taiwanese. Though I could find trainers large enough, dress shoes were something I would get on visits to the US, and when they “went down”, I’d be in trouble. 40 years ago, when I wore boots, I once looked at them with an eye to needed repairs, and had new soles and heels put on a couple pairs. I didn’t like how they felt after the fix, so I didn’t do it again. Then I outgrew the “wearing boots” stage of life. NOW, I just get trainers on ebay. I’m vain enough about other things, appearance just isn’t one of them.

    Liked by 8 people

  2. I have a new Trail game I play with myself called “whose post is this going to be” based solely on the header image. Today was too easy :).

    I frequently take shoes to George’s on Grand. Sadly, the tiny shop in my neighborhood that was more…something…is now a lamp shop.

    I tend to get attached to my leather shoes and boots, so knowing a repair place is important.

    Sadly, George’s told me they couldn’t fix the split along the sole of my black ankle boots last time, and for whatever reason, the new ankle boots all seem to have an anachronistic side zipper (shudder).

    I still have those boots because I am pretty sure I know how to fix them, and it’s a tough job, which is why I am not blaming George’s for saying they can’t do that.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I have a very old pair of British Knights shoes from the 80’s or so. I wore them till the soles split. I’d like to have them repaired, but after so many years I’m not quite sure which closet I stashed them away in. If I can dig them out maybe George’s could put them right.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Anything I might be considered fussy about has nothing to do with vanity. If my shoes say anything about me, it’s that I don’t care much about shoes. I don’t remember the last time I had shoes that could be repaired, which is good because there are almost no cobblers still in business around here. The only one I know of is on Grand Avenue near Penzey’s, if he is in fact still in business.

    I used to wear boots back in college but they made my feet smell so I eschewed them.

    I was trying to think of any sorts of repair that would be specific to the Twin Cities and came up empty. From there I thought about kinds of rarified repair in general. I found this, which I found interesting:
    https://lettersandjournals.com/a-visit-to-the-vale-typewriter-shop-minneapolis/

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I was wondering if there were any typewriter repair shops left! That article is from 2019, so I hope he’s still in business. My roommate was given a big black Underwood as a gift some years ago, but it doesn’t work well and needs some love (and a new ribbon). I miss my dad’s old portable manual typewriter (it had it’s own leather case), on which I typed my high school and college papers before I got my own electronic typewriter. I wish now we hadn’t given the old workhorse away, but who knew what we’d end up feeling nostalgic over? As Roommate and I keep telling each other, you can’t keep everything.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I wrote a commentary for an online course I was taking about the things that once were physical and now were becoming virtual—typewriters, certainly and to a great extent cameras. Typewriters offer a certain audible, visual and tactile satisfaction that a word processing program lacks. They have become phantoms, reduced to their utilitarian function. As the camera function in smart phones becomes ever more sophisticated, cameras, which carried heft and precision with their purpose, are going the same way, becoming a mere ancillary function.

        What, I wondered, would be the next essential tool to lose its tangibility?

        Liked by 3 people

  4. Red Wing work shoes. Quality construction.
    Being on hands and knees installing flooring wears out the toes of shoes. A coating of epoxy will prolong shoe life but that material will eventually develop ridges that can scratch new finishes. Three years of life was typical. Also I despise round shoelaces. On Red Wings, they are twice as long as needed and always come undone. I took to replacing them with colored vinyl cords. The surface of that material tended to hold together. I literally became Dooley
    “Tan shoes with pink shoelaces”https://youtu.be/WGgaZZl_GVg

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Our son is fussy about his dress shirts, and ordered some tailored ones asbwell as. stainless steel collar stays with some birthday money we sent him.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. good for him
      In my costuming days I once read a book about haberdashery and there was one section about getting the right collar for your neck and face, and now when I see politicians who have no idea what they are doing, I just can’t unsee that.

      Same with tie knots.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. How often do you appear on network news?

        Last time I saw you, you were helping to haul a tree out of Steve’s yard (pretty sure that was you), which is indeed, a whole different world.

        My son also had different “looks” for running a 10k than he did for defending a mock trial case before Justice Lillehaug

        Liked by 3 people

        1. I volunteered for David Lillehaug’s 2000 Senate campaign. He lost out in the end, but came out OK. Fine folks, Justice Lillehaug & the Mrs. (Although I don’t think she uses her husband’s name.)

          Liked by 1 person

    2. and stainless steel collar stays!!!!! monogrammed?

      One of my favorite clothing moments in a show is when Evie Eliot is transforming their deceased father’s elegant wardrobe into clothing for herself and Beatrice.

      As noted several weeks ago, I love good tailoring, and I aspire to having that sort of thing for myself.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. I continue to love my Birks and I have several pairs. They will hold up for a long time if you keep up with the Barge cement on the cork. I failed to do this for my first pair and had them repaired, which was when I was introduced to Barge cement. I bought that pair at the shoe store that was near the New Riverside Cafe in 1987 and wore them for almost 20 years. I still have them, bless their original hearts, but I don’t wear them anymore.

    The only thing I think I might be a little vain about is my hair. Like Jo, it’s my one beauty. I’m a bit fussy about how it looks when I go anywhere but most days a French braid will do. And I don’t go out too much these days so I don’t get too worried about how my hair looks at home.

    Liked by 6 people

  7. Rise and Shine,

    Overall, I am not a terribly fussy person, but in a few areas I want it the way I want it. My house has to be picked up and orderly or I feel overwhelmed by stuff, then irritable and difficult while I huff and puff and “putting your stuff away instead of leaving it all over the place.” Hmph. When husband clears the dishwasher then puts stuff where he thinks it goes, and then I cannot locate it, I get mad. I want my cooking gear where I want my cooking gear and I will not compromise. I do the cooking so do it My Way, So There. Lou can probably quote this lecture chapter and verse.

    Here is another one regarding my contact information: Recently I contacted the city of EP to determine if they have a Community Garden in which Master Gardeners volunteer. I received a mildly huffy reply from the designated city employee saying, “I don’t think the city needs to be involved in that. Can I just publish your phone number or email and let gardeners contact you?” To which the answer was an emphatic NO. Then I found out that EP does have a small program but the city employee just does not want to cooperate. I am really fussy about my contact information being used with discretion. I will volunteer elsewhere where, thank you very much.

    But no boots getting repaired over decades in my closet.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I just thought of another one. My Apple Mouse with the touch sensitive surface that is also a mouse pad. I am very, very fussy about that. I wore one out and immediately acquired a second one that makes me so happy.

      https://www.google.com/search?gs_ssp=eJzj4tVP1zc0TM61rEgxL042YPTiTSwoyElVyM0vLU5VMAIAjhMJZg&q=apple+mouse+2&rlz=1C9BKJA_enUS813US816&oq=Appple+mouse&aqs=chrome.5.69i57j0i10i433j0i10j0i10i433j0i10j46i10i433.8001j0j7&hl=en-US&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8#imgrc=yBubWLMLWsq7gM

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Fussy and vain – not much, no make-up, iffy haircut, thrift shop clothes. Shoes though, I’ve always loved pretty shoes, and will actually buy new if I can’t find barely-used ones. And so far they don’t talk to me (see Blue Shoes of Happiness by Alex. McCall Smith).

    I am happy that there is a shoe repair guy here in case I need one – have repaired a purse there.

    Thinking about the specialty shop – I know there’s something…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And I love it that this character’s shoes talk to her! Not only must Mme Grace Makutsi have beautiful shoes, but she engages in entire conversations with them.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I am not vain about shoes. In fact, I don’t like shopping for shoes. The biggest reason is that I have tiny feet – size 4 or 4.5 for women’s dress shoes or a 5 for shoes that tie or are a snug slip-on. I can wear a children’s size 3 but choices are very limited – no dress shoes because most of them are sparkly or have butterflies or flowers on them. The best part about children’s shoes is that they are quite a bit cheaper.I do have a couple pair of dress heels but rarely wear them because they quickly make my feet hurt. I mostly live in tennies, Keen’s, or Merrill’s. Nearly all my shoe shopping these days is done online. Very few stores carry my sizes.
    My hands match my feet – small with short fingers. When wearing winter gloves or mittens, there is about an inch between my fingertips and the tip of the glove/mitten. That makes it hard to do anything while wearing them. Children’s gloves and mittens fit fingerwise but are too short in the wrist.
    I am fussy about neatness and organization. Probably a good thing I live alone.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. i still miss wearing cowboy boots; there’s just something about the way they make you walk i liked. (footy issues and a brace make them impossible to wear now). i wear black (for the theater work) steel toed (all the time for safety) oxford style Red Wings called “Worx”. And with my bad foot, they wear off to the side so i only get a year out of a pair. longer and it makes my knee start to hurt.

    i notice other peoples shoes. its interesting how rarely i’ll see two people wearing the same style.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I’ve been wearing Birkies for thirty years….there is a shop in Duluth that rebuilds them, so I have had at least three pair rebuilt. Cloquet also has a repair shop and sells Birkies, so I need to check in with them to rebuild the pair I wear every day since retiring. I think there is a saddle repair shop nearby but the guy might have died….I have my grandfather’s western saddle that was custom built prior to 1918, but the only “repair” it needs is to replace the leather strings and…well, not necessary. A critter chewed off a portion of the stirrup leather, but I was advised not to replace it as it affects its historic value. So…I haven’t. I bring it to the county fair so kids can sit on in…I ride on English saddles that fit me better. But I love that old saddle to look at…and my Birkies.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. yup, the way a pair of boots makes you walk (and the way you feel when walking like that) is a big deal- most of the boots that will keep out the wet also make me feel like I am lumbering along on the daily walk, rather than skimming along

    Thanks for mentioning Red Wing- I see a pair of black ankle boots that are “of interest”. More than I want to spend (as expected) and a bit clunkier in the heel and sole than I like, but worth thinking about.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Damn, I missed my chance. Those boots are gorgeous. I bet they’d put a little extra spring in your step, even if you had a bunion.

        Like

  13. Not sure whether I’ve ever been vain or had anything to be vain about, but if I was, it certainly a long time ago. I am fussy about some things, though. Like the kitchen. It has to be tidy and clean. Can’t stand a messy work area littered with debris from husband’s cooking exploits. And I want my tools back where they belong. It’s a constant source of frustration that he seems oblivious to this.

    My favorite winter boots for when it’s really cold are my Steger Mukluks. They are a pain to get into and out of, so I wear them only when extreme temps demand it. They’re light, warm and comfortable, like wearing a giant pair of slippers, ideal for hours on end in the cold. They are not good in temps above freezing or when conditions are slushy as they get wet.

    Overall, I prefer sandals to shoes. It grieves me late each fall when I have to switch to shoes. Just a few more months and it will be sandal weather again. Yeah!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I turned my roommate onto Birkenstocks last summer, and she loves them. I can’t remember why she didn’t try them sooner, but better late than never! I got my first pair in the 1990s, but suddenly they stopped manufacturing the vegan line (non-leather straps and footbed liners; the Birko-Flor line had suede footbed liners). I hear the vegan ones are finally back, so I’ll be getting a pair or two for the summer. Chacos are okay, but they’re nowhere near as comfy as Birkies.

      Liked by 4 people

  14. I am fussy about my lighting console set up. I say I’m really high maintenance about that: garbage can, plug strip, work lights, the right chair, room for script and notebook… it’s a whole big thing.
    Theatrical Lighting stores are rather specialized. There are non in Rochester. There’s several in the Twin Cities area. But then there’s not much demand in Rochester either.

    Liked by 4 people

  15. I suppose specialty shops here would include places that cater to kayakers, etc., because we do draw a lot of people here for that.

    And the little storefronts for the various festivals. I now know where the Frozen River Film Fest’s (happening right now) building is, and the Great River Shakespeare Festival office. You can buy t-shirts and other items, as well as get your tickets… This would be true of any city that holds festivals, though.

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  16. I’ve been thinking about this today and it seems unbelievable that I could say I’m not vain or fussy. But I can’t really think of anything that I’m vain or fussy about. My motto has always been “done is better than perfect” so is that just laziness? I’m too lazy to be vain? Like others here I am a major Birkenstock fan. I have seven or eight different pairs of clogs or sandals or Mary Jane’s — all Birkenstocks. Except for zorries in the summer I rarely wear anything else. I think the little shop over in Dinkytown is still open that does Birkenstock repair. I’ve been there more than once.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. When I was a kid living in St. Louis I remember seeing (at a friends house) a catalog from Northern Sun Alliance. I loved that catalog and I ordered things from it having to do with anti-war and peace and other liberal causes. I had T-shirts and buttons and posters. I was thrilled when I moved here and discovered that it is the home of Northern Sun. And not only that, it’s relatively close to my house. I think of this as a fabulous specialty shop here.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That reminds me of the annual warehouse sale that the Prairie Home catalog used to hold back in the mid-to-late eighties, early nineties. It had a different name; I don’t recall what it was, but they had all kinds of wonderful stuff. Funky clothes – I got two of my all time favorite cotton jackets there – jewelry, all kinds of unusual gift items, a fun way to spend a Saturday morning. Anyone remember the name of the company or go to those sales?

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      1. I think it was Rivertown Trading Company that had those sales. I have a tin I got at one of those sales that used to contain several kinds of fancy peanut butter. I have some baking supplies in it now.

        Liked by 2 people

  18. There are about three million youtube covers of These Boots Are Made for Walking. This particular one, for some reason, captured my attention and strangely fascinates me.

    Like

  19. I recall that, back when I was in college, Gokey boots were much desired. They were expensive but as I recall they were custom made to your measurements. I see they are still made, though probably not bespoke, and they are expensive but beautiful.

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      1. My friend, Philip, used to buy most of his clothes at Heimie’s Haberdashery in downtown St. Paul. It’s a high-end men’s clothing store that caters to gentlemen, in the old fashioned sense of the word, and Philip loved that they treated him with the utmost respect and as if he was somebody. Shopping at Heimie’s makes a statement. Afterwards you might amble over to the St. Paul Hotel for a bite to eat.

        Liked by 2 people

  20. I would hope my shoes don’t say anything about me. If they did, they would probably file grievances relating to overwork and mistreatment. I am very hard on shoes.

    One merchant that was unique to my neighborhood is no longer in business, as far as I can tell, but used to sell used garages. I bought one from him. He had a row of garages displayed near a restaurant on St. Paul’s west side, and if you bought one he would tow it over to your site and anchor it to your prelaid slab. Mine is still faithfully standing.

    Liked by 3 people

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