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Owners Julie and Cody Newport welcome tourists and regulars to the Dallas mecca of Western wear.

What’s Selling: Wild Bill’s Western Store

Owners Cody and Julie Newport are all about the experience complete with a healthy dose of Southern hospitality.

Owners Julie and Cody Newport welcome tourists and regulars to the Dallas mecca of Western wear.
Owners Julie and Cody Newport welcome tourists and regulars to the Dallas mecca of Western wear.

While the exact founding year of Wild Bill’s Western Store in Dallas’s West End Historic District remains a mystery (the shop is believed to have opened 40ish years ago), one thing is certain: the family-owned business is a destination for all things Western wear.

Customers are greeted by a 20-foot longhorn and 10-foot silver and gold buckle above the entrance, a prime Dallas selfie backdrop. Inside, the rich smell of leather emanates from a vast collection of cowboy boots, hats, apparel, and accessories. Customers can hop on one of the saddle stool barstools, which date back to the late 1800s when the building was the city’s first drug store, while their cowboy hat is custom shaped and sized.

Owners Cody and Julie Newport are all about the experience complete with a healthy dose of Southern hospitality. “We take a lot of pride in offering world-class customer service, and we’re so grateful when customers email us, post on social media, or leave reviews about their experience in our store,” Julie says.  

What are your top-selling boot brands? Dan Post, Lucchese, Corral, Lane, Justin, and Old Gringo.

What are some of your best-selling styles this season? For women’s boots, metallic, denim, and crystal elements are selling extremely well. I can’t say for certain, but the trends driven by the boot manufacturers not only align with music, movies, and TV shows, but also global fashion trends. For example, last summer, while traveling in Italy, we saw beautiful woven leather handbags and belts as well as Western style being incorporated into everyday fashion. That following month at the market, woven leather goods were incorporated into many of our existing vendor lines along with several new metallic styles. For men, exotic boots are on the rise. We carry several types, including caiman, python, and ostrich from bootmakers like Lucchese, Dan Post, Justin, and Blackjack.

What are your best-selling non-footwear items? Hats is our number-two category. Our top-selling brand is Stetson, and we also offer Bailey, Serratelli, and Montecarlo, to name a few. We’re excited that we’ll also be launching our own line of straw, wool, and felt hats later this summer. Since expanding our offering for apparel, accessories, and jewelry, sales in those categories have increased dramatically. It goes back to understanding our customer demographics, and that they’re not the same all year long. We work diligently to take the convention calendar and seasonality into consideration when buying.

Do a lot of tourists/first-timers pick out a hat to match their boots? Not all of them, but it does happen where they’re coming in for a Western event or they want to get decked out for a rodeo, concert, dancing, etc. Many customers do want to complete the look, and our staff spends a lot of time ensuring they have the right sizes and fits. As a result, we get a fair bit of return business when they’re ready for their next hat and/or pair of boots.

Who is your fastest-growing customer segment? Women, ages 25 to 34. We gather that’s due largely to our social media and online marketing, and the brand positionings within that segment. By expanding our Western fashion lines, we’re attracting younger customers who are inspired by this fashion but don’t wish to pay $300 for a pair of boots. A great example of that is Dingo. Several, if not most of their boots, are under $200.

Are you experiencing a Taylor Swift/Beyoncé sales bounce? We’ve leveraged Taylor Swift and Beyoncé’s notoriety as crossover artists to draw attention to our Western fashion lines to a younger audience on our social media. That said, our core customer still skew a bit older as many of our boots and hats are higher end.

What about a Yellowstone effect? That effect has slowed down in terms of Yellowstone-branded items. What it has done, though, is draw mass attention to timeless Western-inspired fashion that has always been present in our industry. It has made these styles more mainstream, allowing customers to integrate Western style into everyday fashion. 

Do you think Western fashion’s growing popularity of late represents a long-term lifestyle shift? If you look back into pop culture history, you’ll see Western fashion present in nearly every generation with a slight variation. I think it’s important, as a retailer, to stay on top of what’s trending and consider adding those lines that speak to what’s happening in pop culture at the time. As testament to Wild Bill’s legacy, Western fashion never goes out of style. People visiting want to take a piece of Dallas/Texas home with them. We have customers that come back year after year or place special orders for their next pair of boots or hat.

The June 2024 Issue

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