News25 Investigates


Amid great anticipation, Tecova's finally lands in Waco, thanks to one man

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Posted at 1:10 PM, Nov 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-29 13:37:40-05

WACO, Texas — The trendiest western store in all the land now has a location in Waco.

Lots of people know Tecova's sells quality products at affordable prices.

But do you know what makes them almost a cult favorite?

Debra Hezel came all the way to Waco from Italy, Texas for the debut of her favorite western store for a reason.

"Tecova's boots what's so special about them? The handmade quality and personal care, " she explained.

In just a few short years, Tecova's came from nowhere to gain a national and then a worldwide reputation for quality goods and prices that made other retailers jealous.

The idea came to founder Paul Hedrick, as he worked on Wall Street.

"I was the guy who had started to show up to the office wearing my ostrich boots," said Hedrick.

At the time such items went for prices only a Wall Street banker could pay. Hedrick saw a way to return western wear to the masses.

"And the only way to do that was to cut out a big part of the system," said Hedrick, referring to so-called distributors or "middlemen".

Hedrick left Wall Street, went directly to a bootmaker in Leon, Mexico and signed it up to make his product, which he'd sell directly to consumers on the internet.

"Some people didn't think that would work, but I knew it would work. Within the first year, we had sold boots in every state in the country," Hedrick told KSAT a while back.

Later, he started opening stores. By then customers wanted more than just inexpensive online boots. Hedrick furnished his stores with those items and began growing.

"They've started expanding I think we will be there 19 stores I think Waco especially with the tourism and kind of our surrounding customer base fits right in line with their target audience," said Jed Cole, President of Brazos River Capital.

With the help of the hundreds of thousands of tourists that come to the Magnolia silos, Tecova's gets more word of mouth advertising, all by strategically choosing an old renovated building on a Waco corner, a place Texans don't mind driving to, if they can avoid Dallas traffic.

"It's much easier driving this way than driving through Dallas. We plan on coming here regularly possibly," said Hezel.

If you haven't heard about Tecova's, you're missing out on a Texas success story of a hometown man, who quit his job on Wall Street to sell affordable cowboy boots.

His inspiring tale helped fuel the growth of the western wear store that's equally trendy with urban cowboys and the real ones on the ranch.

"I'm amazed the style looks so great. I mean, we've lived here 4 years and Washington Avenue has changed so much," said Kate Cockle, of Waco.

Cockle and her friends lined up to become the very first customers at Waco's first-ever Tecova's store.

They had no idea the store might never have happened except for one man with a vision and Tecova's CEO on Speed Dial.

Jed Cole is the man behind the renovation of the old 4-C's College building into a law firm on the second floor and the space that would become Tecova's on the first.

The President of Brazos River Capital made historic preservation part of the business plan at Brazos, serving the community... and the bottom line.

"Paul Hedrick, who is the founder of Tecova's and I used to work together and so we were actually having lunch in Austin. And he was mentioning store expansion and we put together that the design firm we hired to design the building was actually the same design firm designing their stores elsewhere. And so that was an easy way to start the conversation about a Waco store," recalled Cole.

Cole had already done the math, friends had often watched him walk into a restaurant, look it over and casually announce the cost per square foot of running the place.

Brazos had bought the old "Scott Building", home to 4-C's and for a while Waco Police, with an eye toward restoration.

Cole thought Tecova's would be a good fit so he gave the hard-sell for Waco, invoking the so-called "Magnolia Effect" and the advantages of having his product in front of the hundreds of thousands of tourists here each year.

Free advertising, just from good product placement.

"For the first time, in what I can remember downtown Waco, a national retailer, planting their flag here, putting us on the same Echelon as places like uptown Dallas and River Oaks, Houston," said Cole.

Because when was the last time you heard your downtown called "upscale"?

You might call the resulting deal, a "win, win, win", with a win for Tecova's, a win for Brazos Capital, and a win for Waco.

Cole says, what separates successful cities from the rest of the pack is the efforts of its "hometown folks" to sell the place to outsiders.

"I think we're really excited as more people have connections to folks that are interested in Waco. I can speak for our city staff, all the way from Mayor Meek to (City Manager) Bradley Ford, to all the people in the inspection and planning department. It's been a team effort making this historic restoration happen and so I would invite other people that are interested in moving their business downtown, you have open arms with the city and the staff here and the government here,” Cole said.

Proving once again, word of mouth provides the best, cheapest, and most effective advertising.

Cockle said she first heard about Tecova's from a friend who saw it on Instagram.

Whether it's an internet post or a TV ad, they're conversation starters.

When we take up for a brand, or a city, we say the opportunities here benefit us all.

It's not just a "win-win" but a win, win, win, win, win, win (you get the idea).