Boots at Stampede Western Wear
Stampede Western Wear, located in Hoover Commons, sells hats, boots, belt buckles and other accessories.
Stampeded Western Wear
1615 Montgomery Hwy • 979-2770
Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sunday, 1 p.m.- 5 p.m.
In the early 1970s, not long before the John Travolta film “Urban Cowboy” popularized Stetsons and cowboy boots, Larry and Sheila Chain bought a small Western wear store in Hoover. While the film’s popularity has long since died out, Stampede Western Wear still provides boots, belt buckles and everything else its customers need to be an urban cowboy or cowgirl.
The rich smell of leather and soft strains of country music fill Stampede Western Wear, located in the Hoover Commons shopping center. The store has a wide array of boot choices lining the walls, along with hats, jewelry, clothing, figurines and other Western-themed items. The variety of choices can be daunting for new customers.
“We don’t want you to go shopping there and just get lost,” said the owners’ son Danny Chain, who handles Stampede’s marketing. “It’s so overwhelming once you come into our store and start looking at boots and you don’t know anything about them.”
Stampede helps buyers who see boot fitting as a challenge. Chain, who has worked in his parents’ store since he was 10 years old, has seen many customers come in with ill-fitting boots that they purchased at other Western stores.
“It’s not like tennis shoes, where you can go buy a pair of shoes and if you go a little bit longer or wider, it doesn’t make much difference,” Chain said. “It’s a whole different ball game. Whatever you knew about how shoes should fit, throw it out the window.”
The recession caused Stampede’s sales to take a hit, but the Chains used this as a chance to overhaul the store’s business model. They expanded “buy one get one” offers and introduced a loyalty program to reward repeat customers. Stampede also recently began carrying electronic cigarettes, which Chain said has led to increased sales and is healthier for customers who smoke.
“I know how hard it is to actually wean off of the toxins and all the other stuff, whereas the e-cigarette is actually a safer, better way to smoke than your regular cigarette,” said Chain, a former smoker.
The store’s profits have also been helped by country music’s mainstream success. The popularity of Taylor Swift and the country rock genre has brought entirely new demographics to Stampede, especially among teenage girls. Chain said the store’s biggest market is currently the 13- to 30-year-old age group.
Western wear stores face the challenge of keeping their inventory fresh. However, Chain said customers keep coming back because boots have a timeless ability to boost the confidence of their owners.
“Your whole personality changes when you’re actually wearing a boot,” Chain said. “It’s interesting when you start seeing [customers] walking in their first pair of boots. They’ve got a different walk and a different attitude, and they’ve got more attitude in their stride.”