December 13, 2012

Alex store produces clothes from hides

Jessica Lane, Staff Writer,
The Express-Star

ALEX — Not limited to boots and saddles, 4C Boot and Saddle can make boots, saddles, belts, hats, purses, wallets, horse tack, holsters, gun belts … pretty much anything made of leather.

The leather shop in Alex, Okla. is co-owned by Kevin Cook and Clyde Bennett. All the goods that come out of 4C Boot and Saddle are custom made.

"If it involves leather, it can be made here," Bennett said.

Before getting involved with 4C Boot and Saddle, Bennett has been able to cater to some unusual requests, including a wheelchair for a disabled dog.

For boots, customers can choose what style of toe and heel they want the boot to have, stitch pattern and what kind of leather they want.

4C Boot and Saddle use a variety of leathers, from calf skin all the way through the legal exotics including ostrich, anteater, alligator, lizards, elephant, even shark.

Many of the leathers come in a variety of colors for further customization.

The shop opened just a few weeks ago, but Cook said that business is alive and kicking. 4C Boot and Saddle also does leather repairs, which is a good business to be in during an economical downturn, Cook said.

Cook and Bennett met on the 4th of July and started discussing their interest in making leather goods. Cook wanted to start taking saddle making classes and Bennett wanted to learn about making boots.

The pair decided to work together on an exchange-of-knowledge-basis.

Cook got started making leather when he wanted a book cover, but found it would be cheaper to make it himself. He said he also learned from buying things, taking them apart and putting them back together.

Bennett said he started leatherwork when he had something break on a saddle and decided to try to fix it himself.

It takes a lot to build a boot. First, the customer's foot is traced and measured in five places. This ensures that the boot will fit the wearer exactly. It takes roughly three weeks of cutting and crafting to turn out a pair of boots.

Most of the equipment in the shop came from the Catwalk in Chickasha, Bennett said.

The big, sturdy metal machines used to cut, polish and build boots is, well, tough as a boot. Some of the machines were made as far back as 1908 and the 1930s.

4C Boot and Saddle is located in Alex at 121 S. Main St. They can be contacted at 405.596.1559.