Beating the Thin Margins of Bootmaking

Espinoza Boot Maker, Phoenix, AZ

David Espinoza has been making his own brand of handmade boots since 1990. The difference these days is technology. It expanded his market and lowered his costs in a trade with thin margins.

Espinoza began his education in leatherwork as a hobby in Phoenix and applied his skills while in college by crafting products for friends, according to a profile in Visit Phoenix. He became a bootmaker in 1968 and eventually bought the business where he apprenticed. The company name, Espinoza Boot Maker, is as “classic and understated” as the product. 

While Espinoza is in the business to make boots. It is his form of fine art. “David’s boots make a strong statement about strength, values, and culture in the Western United States,” the website promises.

The website is one of the innovations that strengthened Espinoza’s position as a small businessman. “Going onto my web page is like coming into my store,” he said.  By switching from merchant card services to the Square mobile payment service for processing purchases. Each sale generates up to 4 percent more revenue as a result.

“Small businesses are always on the verge of going out of business, and when you can save a few percent here and there, it’s huge,” he said. The low cost of online advertising also opened a window of opportunity that wasn’t available to Espinoza when print and television were the only options.

In addition to four employees, he hired a contractor for digital marketing. Espinoza Boot Maker has a Google My Business listing and is active on Facebook and Instagram. Espinoza also may star in more instructional videos for the company’s YouTube channel.

All of these tools give Espinoza the independence he cherishes.

Espinoza hopes policies aimed at technology companies don’t make online business life more expensive for him. “We might start losing some of these services,” he said.