A friendly smile and a hardy handshake is how Mark Miller greets everyone at the Waxahachie Downtown Farmers Market each Saturday.
Known to his customers at “The Cobbler,” Miller sells many different styles of hats from the shade provided from his Chevrolet Suburban.
“My hats are palm leaf hats; I have some bangora and some straw hats. My top sellers are palm leafs. They are really tough, light and wear really well. I have seen guys wearing them for six years; they’re really good hats. I will be carrying felt hats this winter,” Miller said.
“Felts are winter hats. Most people wear straws in the summer because they are cool. In the cowboy days you didn’t wear a straw hat before spring branding or after fall branding,” he said. “If a fella showed up at branding with a straw hat it ended up in the branding fire. It was just the cowboy way and tradition.”
Miller said palm leafs are a little heavier than the bangoras, which are made out of straw. If a bangora were to get wet it is ruined, unlike a palm leaf that can be reshaped, he said.
Miller got into selling hats when he owned a boot and shoe repair shop and decided to offer another item to customers. Several years ago, he started selling them again. To keep his prices low ($20-$40), he buys his hats directly from a manufacturer in Mexico. Along with selling hats he still maintains his trade as a cobbler, working out of his home in Maypearl and doing boot and shoe repairs.
“Back in the 1980s, when the economy is like it is now I was out of work. A buddy of mine was a custom leather-man and had a boot and custom leather place in Duncanville. He told me that if I came to work for him he would teach me the trade,” he said.
“I was doing ranch work and there were guys that were 60 years old doing the same work that I was. I thought, ‘When I’m 60 I don’t want to work that hard,’ so I got into boot and shoe repair,” he said.
Boot and shoe repair work isn’t as big as it used to be because people wear different types of shoes and boots, Miller said, saying he does general repairs that cost from $30-$75, depending on whether he’s replacing a half-sole, whole sole and or heel. After the repair is completed people don’t have to worry about breaking in the piece of footwear again because it will feel as good as did prior to needing a repair, he said.
Miller can be reached at 972-921-1509, email@example.com or by searching Facebook for Mark Miller (The Cobbler).
The Downtown Farmers Market is open from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. every Saturday through Oct. 15 near the Courthouse Square in Downtown Waxahachie.
Contact Andrew at firstname.lastname@example.org or 469-517-1451.