Ryder Gauteraux is the owner of Gauteraux & Co, a boot-making company in the town of Wallace.
Wallace Idaho, Ryder Gauteraux, Gauteraux & Co, EPA
MRV: The Buzz, Your Outdoor Lifestyle Insider, Written By: Andrew Malo
Boot-Making In The Center Of The Universe
Ryder Gauteraux Is A Family Man From The Rodeo Life That Began A Boot Company In An Historic Idaho Town That He Deemed The Perfect Location
“At one time this was one of the richest towns in America..richer than Chicago,” Ryder Gauteraux says. Gauteraux is the owner of Gauteraux & Co, a boot-making company. The town he is referring to is Wallace, Idaho - a small, historic town in northern Idaho. In fact, Gauteraux has a lot to say about the town he now calls home. “There’s something special about this town,” he says, “in many small towns in America, you are an outsider unless you are five generations deep.” He says that in Wallace that is not the case - one always feels welcome. “I think it is because of it being a mining community, where they have lost so many miners to accidents of the years and they are so affected by the ups and downs of the economy,” Gauteraux explains. He also chose Wallace because it’s the perfect place to raise his family. “It’s quiet with nice old buildings, but has direct access to the rest of the world because I-90 runs through town,” Gauteraux says.
The journey to Wallace and boot-making was a long one - Gauteraux was a rodeo cowboy for 15 years, before that growing up on a ranch in rural Oregon without electricity. He says, “Looking back now it was a blessing to be raised in a log cabin without a telephone or electricity.” Growing up in the west, it was quite natural for him to head towards being a rodeo cowboy. “I travelled all over the country riding bucking horses,” he recalls. When asked if he missed that life from 5 or 6 years ago: “Oh yeah, I miss it a lot. I miss the feeling of winning. Whether it’s an illusion in your own mind or not, but you show up somewhere and you feel like a hero.” Once he started having kids he decided on a place to raise them - Wallace fit the bill.
“When I was rodeoing, I used to make belts and purses to sell,” he recalls, then laughs,” and boots started as a smart comment to one of my friends. I saw a pair of boots and said to them, ‘I could make those.’” He started to get into boot-making and found a VHS set (that’s video cassettes for the younger crowd) about boot-making. “I had five roommates that wanted to kill me” he laughs, “because 5 single guys with a bunch of girls around and one of those guys watching leather videos all the time wasn’t the coolest thing to do.”
Turns out, though, it was worth the study - he moved his business to Wallace about 3 years ago, buying an old hotel to house the shop. “It was built in 1890 and is the oldest hotel in Idaho,” Gauteraux explains, “we put the leather shop down on the ground floor.” He explains that a software company wanted that space, so they moved the shop down. The hotel also has a coffee shop and a martini bar. Besides cowboy boots, Gauteraux & Co makes belts, jewelry, and alligator golf shoes, which, “are getting really popular,” he says.
Wallace has some really interesting lore that starts with its silver mining industry, one of the principal silver mines in the country in the late 1800s. “There were about 5 to 6 mining companies, rich companies, that called Wallace home.” The mining was heavily polluting, though and eventually was extremely slowed. The EPA said most of the soil and water in the area was polluted and devalued most of the homes and area because of it. The mayor at that time, in 2004, decided to do something about it. He called all of the TV stations and news reporters to Wallace and declared Wallace the Center of the Universe. They put a special manhole in the downtown area that states it is the Center of the Universe. When asked how he can claim this, he said “why not?” and “go ahead and prove that it’s not.”
These kind of obscure facts (also another guy declared himself a prime minister, which is now recognized in town law), perhaps convinced Gauteraux to set up shop here. Another reason he moved to Wallace was the proximity of it to Wyoming, where a lot of his clients live, and because of the character of the town for his clients. “I have two rules that I always follow in my business: when I build a custom pair of boots, I always measure them in person and I deliver them in person.” The old hotel is so historic and the town has so much history living in it that clients who visit are stunned and excited to be able to visit. “So when I have a client come in buying a 10,000 dollar pair of boots from the wealthiest cities in the world - they get to be awed by the west in one of the best properties in town...that’s pretty cool.”
A graduate of Northeastern Illinois University in Education, Andrew has taught for the past decade in Chicago, New Mexico, and Japan. He enjoys tinkering with trucks and motorcycles, woodworking, reading and computer programming.
Make Sure To Check Out:
Gauteraux & Co., providing exceptional leather work with a reputation for excellence. Ryder Gauteraux is the lead designer and artist of the company and the go to guy for a discerning clientele seeking a one of a kind pair of boots.