Artisans are continuing to thrive in Texas. Not only are there dozens of time-tested cowboy hat, boot, and saddle makers, but also a slew of younger folks sewing, tooling, and cooking up custom leather weekend bags, handmade silver jewelry, polished wood furnishings, and decadent chocolates. No matter your Texas pit stops—big cities like Houston or Dallas or one-stoplight towns like Marfa or Chillicothe—you’re bound to leave with shopping bags.
Owners Logan Caldbeck and Colt Miller hand tool the boots on site at Cobra Rock Boot Company, based in Marfa. There’s a waitlist for many sets—you’ll find classic cowboy boots as well as handsome pairs for the urban woodsman—but the custom fit is worth it. If you’re looking for smaller souvenirs, check out the wallets and hip tees.
Paul Graybeal, owner of the 26-year-old Moonlight Gemstones in Marfa, hammers and shapes his silver pieces by hand, many of which are adorned with turquoise and other unusual, natural stones. You can also stop in for bolo ties and belt buckles, as well as sterling pendants cast from authentic Native American arrowheads.
Located on downtown Houston’s Main Street, the Asher Gallery at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft carries blown-glass works, ceramics, and jewelry, some of which is made from recycled materials. The go-to gift store’s shelves are also stocked with silks—including handsome ties—and beautifully designed wood pieces ranging from artful bowls and cutting boards to decorative works. Many items are made locally or in Texas; others are made across the states.
Work, a new shop collective in the state capital has a few residents, one of which is Austin-born Noah Marion, who makes hand-tooled leather goods in his back-of-the-house workshop. His dopp kit, slim card case, and the jetsetter tote are best sellers, all designed with an unfinished flair that shows off the raw materials (mostly vegetable-tanned cowhide).
This western staple has occupied the stone and stucco building at the corner of South Congress and Monroe since 1977. The 8,000-foot store has the largest selection of cowboy boots in the country—over 10,000 pairs line the shelves—such as oiled calfskin Luccheses, a Texas staple since 1883. Once you’ve mastered your swagger, turn your attention to the cowboy hats—including Stetson’s Open Road, famously worn by LBJ—belts and buckles, leather jackets, and pearl-snap shirts.
The Lone Star State tree is the pecan, so Texans are happy to indulge in the flavorful little nut. You’ll find pecan orchards and specialty shops across the state, including the tiny town of Chillicothe, close to the Oklahoma border. You’ll marvel at the number of sweet and savory creations and ingredients here, whether it’s pure Texas honey, chocolate-covered pecans and brittle, slabs of fudge, or even pecan virgin oil, a nutty alternative to olive or vegetable oil.
Originally opened in 1917, Oliver Saddle Shop claims to be the Lone Star State’s oldest. Here, Richard and sons Bryan and Zeb Oliver hand tool leather saddles, each of which is numbered and catalogued. Even if you aren’t in the market for a saddle—and chances are, you don’t own a horse—it’s still worth stopping by to admire the workmanship, peruse the handmade spurs and bits, and take in the rich leather fragrance.
Family-owned Catalena Hatters has earned a global following over the last 30 years for its custom cowboy hats. You can pick out felt or straw options in a variety of styles—the cattleman, the Canadian, the horseshoe and the old west—before they take your measurements and make it in their back-of-the-house workshop.
Not only does the House of Cigars, located in Dallas, Texas, import premium stogies, they also hand-roll their own every day. And these guys know what they're doing: Master rollers Sr. Addit Brito and Sr. Pedro Vasquez are from Cuba and Puerto Rico respectively, so it’s in their blood. Head to the Dallas-based shop to light up on one of the plush leather couches, or tour the walk-in humidor to find the ultimate souvenir.
Located in Dallas’s hip Bishop Arts neighborhood, Dude, Sweet Chocolate is owned by Katherine Clapner, who spent 20 years as a pastry chef at the Savoy in London and Hotel Cipriani in Venice, among other haute destinations. Along with artful special occasion chocolates, made with dark cacao, she makes toffee, a decadent Tub of Love Spread, and rich hot chocolate mix and homemade marshmallows.
Owner Daniel Wright started out sewing himself travel accessories—originally a zipper bag for his headphones—before launching a popular line of bags made from new and used materials. In his Main Street shop W Durable Goods in Fort Worth, Texas, you’ll now find weekend bags and dopp kits, as well as wallets and briefcases. He also carries high-end travel amenities, ranging from Marvis mint toothpaste to Kent combs and brushes.
If you want to see what Austin artisans are capable of, peruse the home collection at Mockingbird Domestics. Not only do owners Laura and Jeff Daly have their own furniture line, they also carry pieces by local iron and woodworkers such as Farm2Market, as well as whimsical love seats and chairs reupholstered by Austin-based Spruce. Furniture displays are rounded out with home décor items such as mint julep-worthy mugs by Sertado Copper, Foxwares’ ceramic vases, and playful hand towels by Kimball Prints.