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Style Pick | Allens Boots

How a small Western shop that started in a seedy part of town became an Austin institution.

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Sean Greenberg knows South Congress Avenue. He can tell you that the building that now houses his family’s one-stop-Western-wear-shop, Allens Boots, was a furniture store when his father, Steve Greenberg, purchased the brick-and-mortar in 1977. And 75 years before that, it was a grocery called Checker Front. The store’s self-proclaimed “Man Cave,” which was previously a separate building that has since been acquired to accommodate a growing inventory, was once (perhaps ironically) a bakery, and before that, a flower shop.

Nearly 40 years after establishing its own history as the place to get your first (or twelfth) pair of cowboy boots, Allens still resides at the corner of Monroe and South Congress. At one point the business expanded to six locations across the great state, with four in Austin, one in San Antonio, and one in Wichita Falls. Today, they’re back down to two, but have grown a thriving online store that ships internationally. Besides, the family-operated business has no interest in becoming another faceless chain store — and with that attitude, they’re right at home on one of the most eclectic streets in Austin.

But SoCo, as it is affectionately called, wasn’t always the bustling street that it is today. Decades away from food trucks and First Thursdays, the area was seedy, Greenberg remembers. “I used to love to walk down to Terra Toys (now Big Top Candy Shop) and it was a rough two blocks,” he remembers. Such grit only adds character, and lasting businesses like Allens become landmarks rich with memories and tales. Greenberg can tell you about a slew of characters that have passed through their doors, like Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon. “She came in and bought every Swarovski crystal boot we had,” Greenberg recalls. “Sean bought a hat.”

If crystals aren’t your style, there’s a boot for everyone as Allens offers an endless selection to choose from. In fact, you might want to block out a good chunk of your schedule if you’re planning on stopping in to try on a pair or two. You’ll need it. The store is stocked floor to ceiling with boots with both new and vintage styles and leading brands such as Lucchese, Old Gringo, and Justin’s. Stay tuned, Greenberg says, for Allens to launch its own brand of boots this year. In the meantime, pay the legendary store a visit on your next SoCo excursion. You can’t miss it. It’s the one with the big red boot on the roof.

A SMALL SELECTION OF THE OPTIONS AT ALLENS BOOTS. TRY THESE ON FOR SIZE AND WEAR YOUR NEW BOOTS TO THE AUSTIN RODEO THAT'S HAPPENING MARCH 14-28.

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Men's Lucchese Heritage Brown Amazon Sheepskin Boot | $569

Credits

Photography by Jessica Attie

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