#7 In Roads-Kyle
Walking into the Sandhills Boot Company, the smell of leather hit me full in the face. I filled my senses with the intoxicating aroma as I purred about how much I love the smell of leather. A cowboy with a waxed moustache, cow-hair leather vest and kind face reached for my hand. Owner Kyle introduced himself as he shook my hand firmly and shared that he’s around the aroma so much he’s lost the ability to smell it at all. How sad for him, I thought, as I poked around the little house-turned-business and checked out the hand-made boots he had sitting around near the saddle and other cowboy paraphernalia that was on display. I ask if he plays the banjo on the wall and he tells about picking in his college days but now it’s just a decoration.
Kyle has a twinkle in his eye, an engaging smile and laughs easily. He tends to pull you in as he shares the story of his recent past and the conversation is dotted with anecdotes. He used to be a cowboy but when he started noticing how much it hurt when he picked up his children or did other daddy duties, he decided it was time to make some changes. Even though he wasn’t sure what those changes might be. As he looked around for some other way to support his family, Kyle met a guy who was selling a cool old leather sewing machine made in the 1800s. On a whim, he bought it. Then he purchased a book about how to make boots and decided that from then on, he was a boot maker. That was 14 years ago. These days Kyle’s custom fit, handmade boots start at $1,000.00 a pair and it’ll take about five months to get them to you. He fashions wearable works of art in the form of belts, vests and shoes and will even make a woman a handbag to match her boots. And he makes chaps. Needless to say, besides the part about him being an attractive cowboy with a twinkle in his eye, this is the part that excites me so we discuss details. It will take a while to save up the $275, but it looks like I’ll have a great reason to come back to Cody, Nebraska once I do. Pretty sure he has a bunch more stories to tell, too.