Rural Missouri - April 2022 - 19

by Jim McCarty | jmccarty@ruralmissouri.coop
P
resident Theodore Roosevelt wore them. So did
Ernest Hemingway. Grandpa Jones liked to
show them off on " Hee Haw. " For more than
170 years, Gokey has been the choice for those
who demand quality footwear. Yet most Missourians
have no idea these handcrafted boots and shoes come
from a small factory in Tipton.
Plant Manager Stacy Doss believes in his products
so much he's been known to step into a pit full
of live rattlesnakes to prove his boots are tougher
than anything the great outdoors can throw at them.
" We've been to the Rattlesnake Roundup in Sweetwater,
Texas a couple times, " says the Co-Mo Connect
member. " I did demos in the pits with rattlesnakes.
You had to clear a spot to stand. My boots are over
there in a box in the corner. They have literally been
bit thousands of times. And you can't even tell it. "
The business got its start in 1850 when Noah
Gokey began making boots in New York. His factory
caught fi re and burned, taking an entire city block
with it. It was rebuilt in upstate New York, then sold
and moved to Minnesota where it would remain until
1992. That's when Stacy's father, Jerry, moved the
operation to the former Stride Rite plant in downtown
Tipton where it was owned by Orvis and now Boyt
Harness Co.
" My father was working for Stride Rite in Fulton, "
Stacy recalls. " One of the guys he had trained over
the years was the plant manager here for Stride Rite.
When this plant was closing he contacted my dad and
said, 'we've got like 400 people here that's going to
be out of a job.' The building is owned privately. They
were wanting to keep a business in it. "
Where Stride Rite once turned out 5,000 pairs of
shoes daily, Gokey puts the emphasis on quality for
the 100 to 120 pairs it makes in a week. One model
of its boots has 500 stitches, all put in by hand using
an awl and a pair of needles.
" It's very high quality, " Stacy says. " It takes about
a year for us to train somebody in the shoe and boot
department to where I consider them halfway trained.
If I hire 20 people, I might keep one. It's a skilled
labor job. When you see the people do it, it doesn't
look hard at all. But I will let you try. I like letting
people try because they are like, 'I can't even punch
that through the leather.' "
Stacy learned the trade himself starting at age 14
when he sewed footwear for his dad in the attic of the
family home. Save for a short time when he left the
company, he's worked for Gokey ever since.
He still crafts all of the custom footwear that is one
highlight of the business. For an extra $100, customers
can have their footwear made to perfectly match
their feet, fl aws and all.
" For people who truly need custom footwear it's
a unique company that does this for them, " Stacy
says. " One guy had his toes cut off in a motorcycle
accident. Now where are you going to buy shoes to fi t
both of your feet like that?
" As people get older their feet change. They have to
APRIL 2022 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP 19
Left: Canvas and leather
are stitched together by Lisa
Brown to form the uppers
on a pair of The Boyt hunting
boots. The canvas is the same
type used in the gun cases
that are a signature of parent
company Boyt Harness,
which now owns Gokey.
Besides footwear, Gokey also
makes luggage and hunting
accessories.
Above: Patty Troost and Kayla Marciniek lay out patterns used to create
Gokey products. Below: These templates are pressed into the leather to
cut the parts that go into boots and shoes.
http://www.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Rural Missouri - April 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - April 2022

Contents
Rural Missouri - April 2022 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - April 2022 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - April 2022 - Contents
Rural Missouri - April 2022 - 4
Rural Missouri - April 2022 - 5
Rural Missouri - April 2022 - 6
Rural Missouri - April 2022 - 7
Rural Missouri - April 2022 - 8
Rural Missouri - April 2022 - 9
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Rural Missouri - April 2022 - 19
Rural Missouri - April 2022 - 20
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Rural Missouri - April 2022 - 25
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Rural Missouri - April 2022 - 28
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Rural Missouri - April 2022 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - April 2022 - Cover4
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