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Henry Camargo Continues the Tradition at Camargo’s Boots in Mercedes

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Photo on the left- (from right to left):  Henry Camargo, keeper of the Artisan-Craft tradition at Camargo’s Boots in Mercedes and standing next to him is one of his customers. Photo on the Right- Henry Camargo, the boot maker at his best, is the owner of  Camargo’s Boots in Mercedes, Texas.
Photo on the left- (from right to left): Henry Camargo, keeper of the Artisan-Craft tradition at Camargo’s Boots in Mercedes and standing next to him is one of his customers.
Photo on the Right- Henry Camargo, the boot maker at his best, is the owner of
Camargo’s Boots in Mercedes, Texas.

By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

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As originally published by Texas Border Business newsprint Edition

Have you ever heard someone say, ‘You take me for granted’?   I am sure you have. That is exactly what I did with Mercedes; I took the City for granted. Today, as Texas Border Business has had the opportunity to meet many interesting and talented people, I realize that the city of Mercedes has a lot to offer.

One important thing to mention is that it’s the home of the best boot makers in the world. Texas Border Business had the opportunity to meet with Henry Camargo, the owner of Camargo’s Boots and the meeting turned into a real discovery-learning trip.

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Henry is a Mercedes native, born to Santos and Luz Camargo; both are now deceased. Henry remembers that one of the rules he learned from his parents is that he had to work hard.

His boot-making career started when in 1973 he applied for a job at Rios of Mercedes Boot Company.  There, he learned the artisan-craft from a great boot maker; the late Antonio Sanchez had come from Mexico and worked as a boot maker for approximately 60 years. When Mr. Sanchez passed away he was in his early 80s.

Henry pointed out that he opened his store in 1980 and since then he has done good business. He decided to stay in the Valley mainly because at the time his parents and all his family were in Mercedes. “I could have made more money moving and setting up shop in Austin, but for me family is everything.” He said, “I didn’t want to do it just for the money.”

Aside from being a successful boot maker, Henry also spends time in a hobby that he loves and is good at, restoring antique cars.

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“I restore cars as long as they have an antique value.” He said, “I have a 1961 fuel injection Corvette that is valued at a quarter of a million that I kept.” He has restored other cars to glorious condition and has kept them as collector’s items.  He loves cars and truly enjoys his hobby of restoring them; it’s something that he has done since he was twelve years old.

For the future, he sees retirement and maybe one of his sons will take over, but it looks like he will never stop. He has a passion for the boot making business and he creates them one pair at a time, custom-made to fit like a glove.

Many of the boots that he manufactures by hand have a unique artwork that looks like carving. “That’s called hand tooling, not many people do it because some of the great boot makers already passed away and today there aren’t many that can do it,” he said.

He pointed out that hand tooling a design permits no mistakes. “Once you have the drawing, you follow it and finish with it.”

In his opinion, he has set himself apart from the rest of the boot makers because as he says, “We do it all by hand and we do what the customers wants and not what I want,” he said emphatically.

Henry Camargo is married to his high school sweetheart Janie Castro, also a native of Mercedes. They have four children, Rick, Michael, Monica, and Aaron. Monica Lee attended St. Mary’s University and then earned a degree in Accounting from UTPA; she now resides in Boston, MA.

If you want to visit Camargo’s Boots, this is where you can find them, at 710 W. Second St. in Mercedes, Texas, or call them at 956-565-6457. You can also visit them at www.camargoboots.com on Facebook. TBB

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