A rite of passage for many visitors to Music City is shopping for boots at one of downtown’s “Buy One Pair, Get Two Pairs Free” stores. While that sure sounds like a great deal, who really planned ahead to leave enough room in their luggage to carry six boots home? You’ll probably have to buy an extra suitcase and pay for an extra bag on your return flight. Doesn’t sound like as much of a bargain now, does it?
Besides, there’s an old saying that goes, “He’s all hat and no cattle,” a statement on the authenticity of someone claiming to have legit country cred. Instead of buying three pairs of cheap boots, may we suggest dropping into the new Ariat store in the massive Fifth + Broadway retail and entertainment complex that recently opened downtown? Aimed at footwear buyers who are looking for boots that are comfortable, utilitarian and attractive, Ariat prides itself on being the global leader in equestrian footwear and clothing.
Their commitment to authenticity is evident in many ways as soon as you walk into their attractive shop at Firth + Broadway. Photos of famous rodeo competitors, Olympic equestrian riders and country music stars adorn the walls, and they are quick to point out that they only sponsor athletes who believe in and wear the brand. One of the dressing rooms is decorated with an onstage photo of country performer Ashley McBryde proudly sporting her Ariats during a performance, so you can feel like you’re part of her band while trying on some clothes.
The equestrian obsession of the company includes its name, a shortening of the name of the most famous racehorse of all time, Secretariat. A remarkable wooden piece of artwork of a horse dominates the showroom floor, constructed by a local artist using scavenged music instruments to create details like guitar strings for the tail and a piano key mane.
Nashville is the first urban core location of Ariat’s three corporate stores, with the other two in Fresno and Lexington aiming at more agricultural and working equestrian customer bases. While the shop does indeed showcase some gorgeous exotic skin boots, the majority of the inventory are designed for people that actually wear them on a daily basis, including like, y’know, outdoors and in the dust.
Every customer receives a custom fitting to ensure they’re getting the proper size, because good leather boots will eventually stretch and mold to your foot. In addition to a one-year quality guarantee, Ariat boots are designed like athletic footwear, just for equestrian athletes. They offer cushioned footbeds with shock shields that actually feel more like your favorite pair of sneakers than those hard-seamed patent leather foot traps you might buy in a self-service discount bootery.
The shopping experience at Ariat is more like visiting a luxury boutique, with trained sales representatives standing by to help walk you through the best styles and designs for your intended use. If they don’t happen to have your exact size in your selected boot, they’ll happily ship the right boots to your house, free of charge. Most boots at Ariat retail in the $159-$259 range, with exotics topping out at closer to $600 for rare hides. They also offer leather shoes that they call “cruisers” that are appropriate for working, walking or riding and which start out at just $89.
In addition, Ariat offers performance outerwear and blue jeans, again aimed at the equestrian market. Made from high quality materials and designed for performance, these clothes look great whether you’re on horseback or not. You don’t wear your Carhartt beanie only in the barn, do you?
Whether you’re a visitor to Nashville hunting for the perfect memento of your trip or a local seeking out a pair of boots that you’ll actually wear for years, Ariat is worth checking out. You’ll be glad you did!
5034 Broadway Place
Nashville, Tennessee 37203