Western & English Today

SUM 2014

W&E Today provides retailers and manufacturers with education and ideas that provoke innovation in the Western and English markets.

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Page 20 of 39

summer 2014 Western & English Today 19 Retailers, call for a free catalog Tel: 888-444-2668 www.smokyboots.com style 3435 child's & youth leather western Affordable fashion with comfort in mind style 3469 child's & youth leather square toe style 3477 child's & youth leather square toe ity of his belts is now second to none, and I still buy and promote Chacón anytime possible." Because first and foremost, Chacón makes belts. "Belts are the bigger part of our business and belts came frst," Erickson says. "I made belts for 15 years before we started making buckles. It was good to sell buckles, and very proftable when the price of silver was low. But now our belt business has really grown, and it just seems to me that we're better known for our belts." Which is why you'll fnd Chacón at high end retailers like Maida's, Tom Taylor in Santa Fe, Pinto Ranch in Dallas, Houston and Las Vegas, Maverick in Fort Worth ... In his gas-station-converted-to-belt fac- tory, bins are flled with various leathers — stingray, lizard, ostrich, shark, python, goat, elephant, hippo, bull shoulder, crocodile, calf and bison — and various colors. "I've only known them to use the best quality exotic skins, American bison and other saddle-leather belting," Maida says. "He's always been on time, and he's always called and communicated. If you don't carry Chacón, you need to carry Chacón." But where does the business go from here? "Tat's a good question," Erickson says. "You can see a lot of potential for growth, but I'll tell you, I've been hesitant to embrace that. I think what's going to hap- pen is that my children are going to have to provide the impetus because the potential's there. But the amount of work that it would take to get us there is going to require more work than I can do. I've done pretty much what I can do in terms of developing the business." Erickson points to his youngest daugh- ter, 20-year-old Marissa, who has been coming to the Denver markets in Septem- ber and January — the only two markets Chacón participates in — since she was 7 years old. "If the business grows, it'll be because that's what she wants to do." But don't misinterpret Erickson. He has no plans on retiring anytime soon. "Tere was an old priest stationed here in Mora, a good friend of mine," he says. "He once told me, 'Bruce, we're going to die with our boots on.' Meaning he was going to serve as long as he was physically able. I'm probably going to do the same thing." Right now, there are plenty of buckles to design, plenty of fres to build, and belts to make. "God willing, I'll make them," Erickson says. "I'm enjoying it." By now, it's still snowing outside in Rociada, and the factory still smells of leather, but a new aroma is wafing through the 3,000-square-foot facility. Tacos will soon be served. And after lunch, more belts will be made. (505) 454-1196; chaconbelts.com Santa Fe, New Mexico-based Johnny D. Boggs is a six-time Spur Award winner from Western Writers of America for his fction. His latest novels are Mojave and Te Killing Trail. LEFT: Mark Erickson, who has 13 years of belt-making expertise, operates a "clicker" to cut pieces of nubuck crocodile. ABOVE: Marissa Erickson' applies Chacón's signature black edge to a belt. RIGHT: Bruce Erickson began his legendary belt business in 1972 and today, Chacón Belts & Buckles produces about 300 belts per week. 0714 Profile ChaconBeltsjml.indd 19 6/18/14 12:24 PM

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