By  on October 29, 2007

DALLAS — It’s certainly an ironic Texas twist—a Houston retailer noticing a void in Dallas’s fashion mix. Of course, Walter Pye Jr. is not just any Houston retailer. And because the Pye family sports a retail resumé spanning several decades, it didn’t take him long to find the perfect spot and set up shop in Big D.

Pinto Ranch, Pye’s latest venture, opens its doors Nov. 15 in NorthPark Center. The 9,000-square-foot space sequestered neatly between Neiman Marcus and Barneys New York touts “the best” selection of luxury and custom-crafted Western apparel and lifestyle accessories. In addition to the largest collection of handcrafted, exotic boots in the nation, Pinto Ranch will also offer custom-creased and -shaped hats and a full-service saddle and tack shop, as well as luggage, gifts and home accessories.

“Dallas was the natural expansion for our second store,” said Pye, who opened the first Pinto Ranch in Houston 3 1/2 years ago. “We looked around and there’s not a high-end Western store in Dallas. The natural location for us was NorthPark, because it is the premier center in the city. As it turns out, our niche was one NorthPark hadn’t covered yet, so it was a good mix.”

Pye prides himself on serving up the best of the best. Men’s sport coats start at $395, sport shirts average $100, and sterling silver buckles boast price tags beginning at $250. Apparel lines include Cinch Jeans, Coppley, Lucchese, Acorn, Filson, Schaefer, Remy and Scully. Customers can order a design of their choice, request custom engraving or buy in-house stock from silversmiths like James Reid, Chacon and David Dear.

“There are only a few handmade boot [lines] left and we carry them all,” said Pye, ticking off names like Rocketbuster, Lucchese Handmade Classics, JB Hill, Stallion and Old Gringo. “And we actually make saddles in our store.

“The big difference between us and other Western stores is that we start where the moderate, mainstream retailers leave off,” Pye told DNR last week. “We don’t really cross over with, say, a Cavender’s. In Houston, they send customers to us and we send customers to them. The Western lifestyle is Americana and it hits at all economic levels. We have customers who are bankers and lawyers during the week, then put on their boots and jeans for the weekend.”

Pye’s family has been in the retail business since the 1930s, at one time owning six upscale Walter Pye men’s shops, followed by a stint in discount apparel with seven NAL superstores located around the country. When Pye sold the last of the family stores several years ago, he kept his business contacts. “We kept our great relationships with the lots of the clothing lines we used in those days and they work with us now to create [goods] for Pinto Ranch,” said the retailer.

While some bemoan the perceived soft state of the Western industry, Pye doesn’t see it. “All I can say is the Western business is great for us. We have a niche no one is touching and we are actually looking to expand our concept in other cities around the state and nation.”

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