The story of the “Boot King of West Texas” began on July 1, 1931 in Colorado City, Texas as Adison Randolf (A.R.) and Geneva Ellis Wood gave birth to their youngest child, Billy Joe Wood.
A.R. Wood was a real estate agent and had numerous properties and oil leases prior to the onset of the 1930’s and the Great Depression. After accumulating some wealth during the roaring ‘20’s, as happened to most people in the West Texas region, the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression era took away most of what he had accumulated.
Being the father to 8 children, A.R. continued to work hard in the real estate industry while struggling to make ends meet. However, his love of making a deal and passion for negotiating would forever impact his youngest son, Billy Joe.
While his other siblings pursued different career paths like law enforcement and work in the oil field, Billy Joe chose to come back to Colorado City and pursue a career in the real estate business alongside his father. After serving a brief stint as a telegraph operator in Pecos, he became homesick and longed to return back to his childhood home.
Shortly upon returning to Colorado City, Billy Joe received the call that he had been drafted into the Korean Conflict. It was then that he asked for his lifelong partner, Thelma Berniece Jackson’s hand in marriage. Berniece was only 16 years old at the time and her parents agreed to this only if he would give his word that she would finish high school. Billy Joe agreed and made a promise to Berniece that he always kept, “If you marry me, life will never be dull!”
The Korean Conflict ended prior to him having to report, but the adventure was just beginning for the Wood family. Following his father’s retirement in the real estate business, Billy Joe continued this real estate legacy and also would purchase regional retailers that were struggling or going out of business. In one instance, Berniece received a call one night from Billy Joe asking her to bring a trailer to O’Donnell, Texas, where he would be waiting in the front of a closed store with group of straw hats he had just purchased from a retailer at a discount. This type of crazy adventure was more of the rule than the exception in the Wood household.
Upon doing this for multiple types of retailers from furniture, clothing, hardware, etc., Billy Joe began noticing that the first items that always sold were the boots. Some of his earliest purchases were from legendary bootmaker, ML Leddy Boots in Ft. Worth. He purchased many misfits from the custom bookmaker and would sell them at deeply discounted rates. Thus began the rest of the story that would support 4 generations to date.
Being a man of vision and creative ideas, Billy Joe purchased an old, dilapidated school bus in the mid-60’s and retro fit it into a mobile boot showroom (affectionately deemed by his oldest son Don as the “Bootmobile”). He would travel all over West Texas and park in various vacant lots and sell to the public at greatly discounted prices. He was escorted out of some of these towns due to complaints from local merchants at his extremely low prices, but this only fueled him. However, after enduring a very cold winter in the old school bus, Billy Joe returned to Colorado City, determined for an easier way to make a living, and sold the “Bootmobile”.
Wood’s Boots officially began in 1965 in the front of the real estate office that Billy Joe occupied in downtown Colorado City. After being joined by his oldest son, Don Wood, in 1971, they made the very controversial decision to move from their small store in downtown Colorado City to a new 1,500 square foot location on the newly formed Interstate 20. After banks refused to finance the new risky operation, Billy Joe secured a loan from a friend and local insurance agent to become operational. Not knowing how, or if, they were going to be able to fill up such a large location, Wood’s Boots was opened in its new (and current) location in 1971.
Since 1971, many changes have occurred at 891 East Interstate 20 in Colorado City. The original 1,500 square foot facility has expanded to over 14,000 square feet.
However, beyond the original boot store, there also stands a monument of sorts to the creativity and imagination of Billy Joe Wood.
Fort Wood was opened in 1986 after an idea that arose from drinking coffee and chatting with friends. Billy Joe felt that there was just not a good place to stop and visit between Fort Worth and El Paso on the interstate which, in his mind, presented a golden opportunity. He told his son Don that they were going to build an old west fort, modeled after a John Wayne movie and made of telephone poles, and planning began the next day.
Fort Wood has brought thousands of visitors to Colorado City through its many events such as the Tumbleweed Festival and multiple concerts (Lionel Cartwright, Shelby Lynne and McBride and the Ride to name a few). It has also hosted numerous charity events, dances and Saturday morning gunfight re-enactments. It is home to an award winning mechanical stagecoach (complete with mechanical horses) made from a Dodge van that was also the creative idea of Billy Joe.
His ideas and visions, from the original Texas real estate directory in the 1950’s to his idea to sell items at a discount and make up for it in volume, have propelled and changed the landscape of retail western wear. Though not always workable, many of these visions came to fruition and have helped shape the company for almost 50 years.
Billy Joe was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather and friend until the end. He loved to tell a good story or, even better, a good joke and he never met a stranger that would come through his door. He generosity and love of giving back can be evidenced in the jackets that he would give to senior classes each year and in the many hours of serving through Jaycees and other organizations for which he felt passionate.
Although his life ended on March 29, 2015, his legacy can be felt throughout his family and friends and in the impact that he made to the West Texas region and his beloved hometown of Colorado City in particular.
His vision of Wood’s Boots lives on through his son, grandson and great grandsons. In 2006, Don and oldest son, Jeremiah took over the business. Three generations, including great grandsons Kody & Kyler, are still active in the family business since his passing.
We have serviced many generations of customers, and know many of them personally. Many of our customers tell us that their first pair of boots was purchased from Wood’s Boots in Colorado City.
We proudly offer friendly customer service, a great selection and the lowest possible prices. We service a wide variety of clientele from real cowboys, cowboy truck drivers, the many people of the oil field and wind turbine industries as well as tourists and people that just love cowboy boots from all over the world.