Since 1951, members of the Eddins family have consistently offered their patrons the best in Western wear and customer service, and if they have it their way – nothing’s going to change.
“Chester Eddins had a store on the square,” Kenneth Batterton, Circle E’s manager, said during a recent interview in his office. “It was originally a boot repair shop. Then, he started making some of his own tack, wallets, belts and items like that. That’s how they started carrying Western wear and that’s how it turned into a Western wear store on the square.”
Chester’s two sons, Mickey and Frankie, operated two stores – one downtown and a then-new facility on the interstate.
According to Batterton, Frankie sold everything to Mickey in the 1980s. Mickey’s sons – David, Paul and John – have also joined the family business, which includes Circle E and M&F Western Products, the separate wholesale and manufacturing corporation owned by the family.
“When I got here, there was just one store,” he noted.
Batterton was raised in Waco and came to Circle E in the fall of 2007 from Old Navy. He is married to the former Kacey Shurtleff. They have twin girls, Cara and Paige, and a son, Statler, who is 4.
Circle E, he says, has also enjoyed a successful run because they are committed to “listening to their customers,” especially when it came to designing their new 15,000 square foot store that opened in the fall of 2009.
“People told us stories about how when they walked into the store on the square, they remembered the sound of their boots on the wood floor,” he noted. “And, they talked about the way the door creaked when it was opened.”
The entry to the impressive store has hardwood floors and the door creaks.
“We’re not going to oil it, either,”?Batterton noted with a laugh.
And, then there’s that smell – the unmistakable smell of boot leather that immediately transports a visitor straight back to their childhood.
“Lots of people talk about coming in with their grandparents,” he noted. “They love the smell.”
The fragrance is lost on Batterton and his employees, however.
“Those of us who work here can’t smell it,” he explained. “We’re immune to it.”
Boots represent a significant portion of Circle E’s bottom line. Their best sellers are Ariat, Justin and Tony Lama.
They also sell a lot of Wrangler, Cinch and Cowgirl Tuff jeans.
“Cowgirl Tuff is one of our best lines of [women’s] jeans,” Batterton said. “They have one style that seems to fit everyone.”
Circle E works to stay on top of trends. For example, they noticed that chevron stripes are popular, so they’ve teamed with Anderson Bean boots to design a “Neopolitan Ice Cream” style.
“I’m waiting for a call from their salesman,” Batteron said. “The top of the boot is going to be brown, pink and white. The bottom will be brown.”
Other trends include “a lot of lace tops and dresses,” neon colors and, of course, most anything with bling.
“Bling still sells,” said Batterton, with a laugh.
A “pretty big chunk” of Circle E’s business comes from special orders.
“If we don’t have it, we will order it,” Batterton explained. “We will bend over backwards to find an item for a customer and we don’t charge anything extra.”
When it comes to selling merchandise, Batterton believes in keeping his staff in the loop.
“One of the neatest things about working here is that we’re a team,” the communication major said. “As a team, we get to choose everything that comes in the door.”
One of the company’s team members is Clara Tennison. She worked “for the family” across the street at M&F Western Products for 11 years. She’s worked on the Circle E sales floor for four years.
Her favorite part of the job?
“The people,” she answered without batting an eye. “You have such a variety of customers that come in. You never know what to expect.”
Tennison says the store gets a lot of customers from the interstate.
“We have truck drivers who stop in regularly,” she noted. “Sometimes they’ll park their trucks out there in the parking lot and be waiting for us in the morning. You never really get bored here, that’s for sure.”
Tennison is staying extra busy these days.
There’s a 50 percent markdown on the clearance rack that will wrap up on Thursday, Sept. 26.
Beginning the second week of October, the store will host a truckload boot sale.
“We’ve teamed up with Ariat, our biggest boot vendor,” Batterton explained. “We’re going to have a huge truckload sale that will last until all the boots are gone.”
The store’s top goal? That’s an easy one for Batterton.
“We just want to keep taking care of people every day. We’re fortunate and blessed that so many people come to see us all the time who trust us. That keeps us working hard. Consistency is the key.”
Circle E Western Wear Store is located at 220 West Shannon Road in Sulphur Springs. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. For more information, call 903-885-4481.
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