Space Cowboy is where Texas meets New York. The Western boot retailer’s Manhattan store, the only one of its kind in the city, has become the go-to spot for authentic cowboy boots.
Opened in 2011 in trendy Nolita, the 400-sq.-ft. space specializes in handcrafted boots from brands that include Stallion, J.B. Hill, Lucchese, Liberty and Old Gringo, in addition to its own Planet Cowboy private label.
“We’re a mom-and-pop [business],” co-owner Jaylin Ramer said about the boutique that prides itself on its selection of custom boots. “It’s what sets us apart.”
While Western trends may ebb and flow, business at the store continues to grow 15 percent annually. Encouraged by robust sales, Ramer and partner Paul Greyshock plan to open a second location in Manhattan later this year and start wholesaling their private-label collection.
In addition to its inventory of 3,000 pairs, Space Cowboy offers a customization service for clients who have hard-to-fit feet. To meet the needs of those customers, the store can create a special last that addresses specific foot issues.
And both Ramer and Greyshock are available to craft individual designs by mixing and matching colors, toe shapes and heel heights produced by any of its brands. Currently, about 30 percent of the store’s business is devoted to custom work, said Greyshock.
For those who can’t make the trip to the store, Space Cowboy operates an e-commerce site that accounts for 10 percent of sales. In addition, the retailer offers accessories such as hats, bags and logo T-shirts, as well as boot repairs.
Greyshock’s expertise in the business dates back to Buffalo Chips, a Western boot store he founded in New York in the late 1980s. When rising rents in its Soho neighborhood forced him to close after 30 years, he returned to his former profession as a hairstylist.
But soon Greyshock’s passion for the business resurfaced, and he decided to give retailing another try. This time, he made
his home in the more affordable Nolita, tapping friend and fellow boot aficionado Ramer as his partner.
“I’m living my dream,” said Ramer, who left a career in real estate to join Greyshock. “I love cowboy boots and designing them.”
Stallion Boot Co. is among the brands that have worked with Greyshock since Buffalo Chips. “Paul is great with styles and knows what looks good [when it comes to] colors,” said Annette Lawrence, VP for Stallion. “I’m always impressed [with his ideas]. He has a good eye.”
She noted that business with the retailer has been on an uptick. “Since last year, the store has [increased] its orders from once a month to where it can now be daily,” Lawrence said.
Diana Farmer, GM at J.B. Hill — another veteran of the Buffalo Chips era — pointed out that Space Cowboy is the brand’s only East Coast location, and for an important reason: “Since New York is surrounded by so many states, and people always travel here, it’s nice to have them come in and see our product.”
Space Cowboy’s focus on higher-end handmade product comes with price tags to match. Boots range from $395 for Planet Cowboy styles made in Mexico to a pair of domestically produced alligator boots at $6,000.
In addition, the store offers a children’s line under the Planet Cowboy and Smokey Mountain names, retailing from $95 to $250. “Kids come in for boots, and parents [wind up] buying a pair for themselves,” Ramer said about the trickle-up effect.
Western boot consumers are wide-ranging, she added. “There isn’t a particular customer. We get them from every country,” Ramer said, noting that tourists from Australia, the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Ireland and France have shopped in the store. “We then get a lot of repeat business, with people coming back year after year and sending their friends.”