Heather Leiphart, photojournalist

July 14, 2010

Alan Bell, Bootmaker

Filed under: 9 to 5 in West Texas — hleiphart @ 4:34 pm

For over 30 years, Alan Bell has been creating and repairing custom-fit boots for Abilene, Texas and the surrounding areas.

Mr. Bell runs his business inside a nearly 200- year old converted barber shop on Treadway Boulevard.

Though his expertise in boot creation is undeniable, Mr. Bell says he’s been in the “cat business” only about a year. In addition to his “shop cats,” two “mama cats” and their ten kittens adopted Mr. Bell earlier this spring and he says “they are a blessing.”
“I’m like a mother hen, always counting all ten of them when they get their dinner after I close up shop,” he says with a laugh.

The smallest kitten he calls “Sweetie” is Mr. Bell’s pick of the litter. “She’s my itty-bitty-Sweetie,” he says, having rescued and cared for her one hot Texas summer day after her mother forgot about her in the sun.

“I hate the word ‘customer,'” Mr. Bell likes to say about those who come to the shop. “I prefer to call them my friends, because over the years we really have become good friends.”

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