From the small city of Alpine, Texas, it’s about 90 miles of driving to reach the U.S.-Mexico border, but the owner of Big Bend Saddlery says he feels proximity of the border in his customers' shopping trends.
Most of Gary Dunshee’s customers are cowboys who work along the U.S.-Mexico border but travel to Alpine to shop.
“We pretty much cater to working cowboys – guys that make a living working on ranches, tending the cattle,” he said. “That’s what we concentrate on.”
Dunshee’s shop sells nearly everything, from boots to belts. However, the most popular item is a holster. Big Bend Saddlery now receives requests for holsters that fit on a saddle.
“I think almost all of them have seen something going on that they were really uncomfortable with,” Dunshee said.
He now also uses this type of holster, saying that “the border gets up here” to his area. His own ranch is located 10 miles south of Alpine. He remembers one day when he came across people who he believe had recently crossed the border.
“My wife and my grandkids were out feeding,” he said. “It was an abandoned backpack and they had their shoes, carpet shoes that they tie over their boots for shoes so they don’t leave prints.”
“A good preparation is better than a poor defense,” Dunshee added.