Alberta Boot Company expanding operations, experience into Beltline

New location ushers in experience-based retail for longtime Calgary boot manufacturer

Calgary Stampede president and board chair Steve McDonough, Alberta Boot CEO Eytan Broder, and Mayor Jyoti Gondek pose with the official boots of the Calgary Stampede made by the Alberta Boot Company on Tuesday, May 3, 2022. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

These boots are made for walking, and that’s what they’ll do—albeit not that far from the Calgary Stampede grounds.

The Alberta Boot Company will be moving to a new 30,000 square foot experience and tourism centre in the Beltline as part of an overall brand rejuvenation. ABC was acquired by a new ownership group in 2021.

The move was preceded by a pair of December 2021 boutique openings at the Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise to reposition of the company as a lifestyle brand.

“I think what we realized is that just people don’t know about it outside of our city, so we decided to strategize and think about how we can take the story to the world,” said Eytan Broder, CEO of the Alberta Boot Company.

The new centre reflects a return to the original community of the Alberta Boot Company was founded in.

The goal is to provide an upscale retail experience reflecting modern lifestyle brand sales trends. They will also have an interactive space showcasing where the boots are made, and a boot shine station. The centre will also have room for hosting events, and tour groups.

The new event centre will be open in June before the start of Stampede, at 121 10 Avenue SE.

A successful experience model from other cities

Broder said that this new way of doing business for the Alberta Boot Company is one that was influenced by successful retail-experience models in other cities.

“I think that the tourism piece is an important one for us, and we need to we need to work on that,” he said.

The current retail and factory location near Macleod Trail offers tours and space for event bookings. The new centre expands upon that. It will provide an updated venue that better shares its experience with visitors from outside of Calgary.

And that desire to reach a larger worldwide audience is also reflected within the company’s aggressive growth plans. Over the next three years the company plans on expanding their production capacity by 1,200 per cent.

“We are in the midst of a very significant growth curve and hiring people here to work in our new our new facility,” said Broder.

Downtown redevelopment ‘exciting’

Mayor Jyoti Gondek said this was an exciting move for the redevelopment of downtown.

“It speaks a lot to the type of partnerships we can have in this city, and it also speaks to the fact that our heritage is strong and we’re also looking forward into what our future holds,” she said.

Placing the business near the Stampede also made good business sense for Broder. Being close to the redevelopment of the Rivers District and the BMO Convention Centre provides new opportunities.

“It’s a huge advantage. All the people returning now to Calgary for the Stampede and being able to participate,” he said.

Calgary Stampede president and board chair Steve McDonough said that the new retail-experience was about more than just the 10 days of Stampede.

“Don’t forget, we’re building a world class tier one convention space in Calgary, and yes, walking distance. Alberta boots are made for walking right over to our convention centre,” he said.

“I think they are aware and cognizant of the fact that the redevelopment of downtown starts with BMO.”

Lifestyle and law enforcement boot business growing

The company also announced alongside representatives from the Calgary Stampede that they would be the Stampede’s official boot company.

The Stampede has long been a purchaser of the company’s boots. Members of the show band, youth programs, Stampede princesses, and staff wear ABC boots.

“This is a natural choice for us: local products, local craftsmanship, local jobs,” said McDonough.

Broder also said that providing boots to the RCMP and local law enforcement agencies across North America, including the Calgary Police Service, would continue to be an important part of their business. He said that they were looking to increase the size of their law enforcement division.

The core of the brand will remain western boots. Though, the company is also looking at producing Chelsea boots and some styles of everyday boots. They’re also looking at some apparel and hat options for customers as well.

“We are attracting a younger, more contemporary customer. It’s not just traditional cowboy boots, so we are expanding our reach,” he said.

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