Friday, January 28, 2011

She dressed our cowboys and ones in movies

Gloria Wallace wasn't about to close out her cash register until she made at least one sale. If it was a slow day at Wallace's Cowboy Outfitters in downtown Tucson, she'd grab an armload of cowboy shirts and walk down to the Santa Rita Hotel. The bar was a popular hangout for cattlemen in the early 1950s. It was where livestock auctions were held in, with the steers and quarter horses led right into the lobby. Wallace would chat up the ranchers as they nursed their beers until she persuaded one of them to buy a shirt. "She was a high-powered salesperson," said her daughter-in-law, Mary Jean Wallace. "She had so much spunk and life." "John Wayne used to go in the store and sit on saddles - and Lee Marvin; a lot of stars who came to town who were staring in cowboy movies had to go into the store and get fitted," said the Wallaces' daughter, Candace Roll. It wasn't unusual to find the likes of Wayne, Marvin and Ben Johnson sitting in the back of the store drinking coffee and chewing the fat, said Steve Wallace, whose father once fitted Raquel Welch with a pair of boots. "We used to get a lot of movie business," he said. "It was a different time. It wasn't uncommon to see (stars) wander in." In the '50s, ranching and farming were a way of life in Tucson, and Wallace's was a one-stop shop for cowboy boots, Western wear, horse tack, turquoise jewelry and specialty items sought after by rodeo queens and competitive riders...more

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