The first thing a customer at LTC of Texas will notice is the robust French accent of the owner and his American-inspired tattoos that cover both arms.

In the last month Denise Grize and his girlfriend, Anne-Lise Jeannet, opened a Texas and Route 66-themed gift shop in downtown Waxahachie — Leather Trading Company of Texas. The Swiss couple has traveled to the United States 22 times and visited 31 states over the years.

Denise spent the past 58 years in Domdidier, Switzerland, a town of 2,000 people.

It was necessary before the interview for Grize to call his youngest daughter, Florence, who currently resides in Switzerland. She teaches English to students between the ages of 13 and 17 and translated for her father who knows just enough English to get by.

Florence explained for her father that back in Switzerland, he operated a trucking company that transported food to markets, and drove a tourist bus in Italy, Germany and Britain.

In broken English, Denise said it was time to live in America, the country he expressed that he loves so much. Denise shared it was essential to establish a small business to invest himself in the American culture.

To prove patriotism for the USA, he removed his light jacket where his inked arms revealed a buffalo, Monument Valley, a depiction from Stephen King’s novel “Christine,” a box truck that reads “Deny’s Diner,” a motorcycle with Jeannet, Mount Rushmore, scenery in Phoenix, the Grand Canyon and an American eagle.

Out of all the small towns in Texas, Denise was set on Waxahachie because it was the first residence available. Once all the paperwork and permits are solidified for the western gift store, Denise will work in the states on an investor visa.

In the three months Denise and Jeannet have resided in Waxahachie, she thought the city is beautiful, “and like a cowboy’s treat,” Florence translated.

Life in the Crape Myrtle Capital of Texas has been calm, slower and stress-free Denise explained. Even though their English is not strong, the language barrier will not get in between him and getting to know the community through his business.

When asked why Texas was his favorite state, he held his hands to his heart and said, “I don’t know really. It is just here.”

Denise then compared and contrasted his town in Switzerland and Waxahachie.

“It’s a place for cowboy Americans in Waxahachie,” Denise said. His daughter then translated, “Texas is like 17 times Switzerland in terms of size. It’s really, really big compared to Switzerland.”

LTC of Texas has been open for one month, and Denise has not received as much foot-traffic as desired. Soon, he will sell Swiss products in the back of the shop — he calls Swiss Corner — once his permit is approved. He is in the midst of converting the space into a small market with Swiss chocolates, Swiss knife, Swiss cheese, cookies homemade by Jeannet.

When the couple is not at the shop, they take day-trips on the Harley Davidson Electra Glide.

“He is waiting for the sun to come out so he can ride little roads in Waxahachie to try his motorcycle there,” Florence said.

With 15 years of riding experience, Denise served as the director of the local Harley Davidson chapter back home. Denise expressed an interest in the Grand Prairie chapter and then inquired about local Waxahachie riding clubs.

LTC of Texas is located at 114 N. College St. and is open from 10 a.m. — 6 p.m. every day of the week. The store can be reached at 214-980-1226.

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450