Mock Brothers Saddlery
& Western Wear
Keeping Tradition Alive
By Lauren Cavagnolo
Walking into Mock Brothers Saddlery & Western Wear, it’s
immediately clear this is no chain operation. One peek into the back room gives
a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the craftsmanship of the leather goods sold in
the store. The walls are covered in photographs of the store’s history, famous
customers and the family’s roots in cowboy culture. And according to its 5-star
rating on Facebook and dozens of glowing reviews, the service is incomparable.
oldest saddle shop, known simply as “Mocks” if you’re a local, is located in
Sand Springs just a few miles from its original location in the old stockyards.
The store moved to its current location in December 1976, coinciding with the
closure of the stockyards.
Bret and Greg
Mock are the third generation of brothers to own and run the family business.
In operation since 1941, it’s anticipated that one day Bret’s sons, Ethan and
Daniel, will take over and continue the tradition.
Family of Cowboys
Pictured in those old photographs wallpapering the store are Bret
and Greg’s grandpa Albert (or Ab), great uncle Claude and great uncle Archie,
the store’s founders.
grandpa had passed away at an early age, and so my uncle Claude came down; he
had learned to build saddles up in Kansas in the ‘30s and was still cowboyin’
around. So he came down, and they opened a saddle shop up at the yards there.
And that helped support my great grandma and my uncle Archie,” Bret said.
Archie Mock was
unable to work after he was badly injured in a car accident and left paralyzed
from the waist down.
“They went off a
bridge, and he saved the guy that was with him and got him out of the water.
Then he passed out and was frozen from the waist down. And so Archie would do
the books or dye in belts because he was still bedridden, but it gave him something
to do to support him—just kind of made a living for him.”
A closer look at
a photo of uncle Claude on the wall reveals the shadow of the photographer,
uncle Archie in his wheelchair.
“Lot of ranch
saddles, lot of rodeo people, barrel racers, team ropers, calf ropers,” Bret
describes the family photos on the wall. “You can see in that picture uncle
Claude’s got a rope and calf roped a little bit, and, of course, they cowboyed
all their lives.”
Archie, and Claude’s run, Bret and Greg’s dad Albert Jr. and their uncle
Richard took over the store. “And we bought Richard out in 1984. So we have
been here ever since,” Bret said.
Back to Basics
“Grandpa, he’d flip out if he [could see] how big this has
grown,” laughed Bret. Over the years, the store has added a variety of
merchandise, including boots and Western wear.
With the advent
of the big box chains, local stores such as Mocks have become few and far
nowadays, since Drysdales has sold out and been bought by Boot Barn, [Mocks is]
not a cookie cutter store. Cavender’s has got 20 to 30 stores, and they are
basically all the same anywhere you go and same with Boot Barn,” Bret said. But
if you want something different, mine’s catered to Western, horse, ag-related
people, and that’s what I’ve got. If you want fashion, you’ll have to go to
town. Mine’s basic stuff. And we do saddle repair and build chaps and
everything horse related. You can’t get that from town.”
carries everything from saddles, tack, bits and rope to Western wear, boots,
belts and wallets. A good portion of the store showcases the saddles crafted by
“I’ve got 200
saddles in here, but we still build custom saddles. We are a year out on those.
[We] don’t do a lot of show saddles. They want them so light and moveable, and
I understand that for the rider, but they don’t last 10 years,” Bret explained.
“I don’t build
saddles like that; mine last a lifetime, you know? And I’ve built something
like they build, and it’s cheap to me— junk. I’m not doing that; I’m not
lowering my standards,” he continued. “I understand why they want it, and they
don’t care if it doesn’t last 10 years. They throw it away and go get another
one. But that’s not what we do. So mine are too heavy. We still build them like
grandpa and uncle Claude did back in the ‘40s.”
Bret says a
plain saddle can take anywhere from 50 to 60 hours from start to finish.
Tooling, the stamping of designs and color into the leather, can add another 20
to 30 hours depending on the intricacy of the design.
also line the shelves, waiting to be shaped by hand when purchased. One
Facebook review notes that “Bret can shape a hat second to none.”
“I sell a ton of
hats; they are all hand creased how you want it. They are open blanks,” Bret
said. “And we are the same way with saddles and the service and everything.
It’s all pretty personal and everything.”
And the store
has the reviews to back it up.
“This is back to
the basics, personal service with a smile and helpful until the doors close for
the day. I wouldn’t go any place else and these folks are well known all over
the area since they’ve been in business since 1941. This is your complete store
with everything you can imagine,” raves one reviewer on the Mock Brothers
people! Good quality products. And if they don’t have it, and they can’t find
it, they will make it! There’s a reason why they have been around since the
1940s as a family business. They are the best around,” gushes another.
keep it simple: “Excellent quality, top notch customer service! They always go
above and beyond! Our family won’t go anywhere else!”
It’s not just the locals and professional rodeo riders who know
and love Mock Brothers.
Bret says when
Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood still lived in Oklahoma, they would come into
the shop occasionally.
“Garth and Trisha
would come in and buy saddles, and Garth would buy shirts,” Bret recalled. “Of course, he’s moved off now, so I probably
won’t see him again, but they bought shirts and boots and stuff when they were
country music duo, Brooks and Dunn, have had guitar straps custom made by Mock
“Dad’s built two
pairs of guitar straps for Brooks and Dunn. And Ronnie Dunn just ordered
another guitar strap,” Bret said.
One of those
guitar straps can even be seen on the cover of a Kellogg’s Corn Flakes box
featuring the musicians.
and her family have also been known to frequent Mock Brothers Saddlery.
“Her dad and
family’s old cowboys, and we rebuilt his ’53 steer tripping saddle for him
several years back,” Bret shared. “But [Reba] would pull up in her bus, and her
mom and dad would come in, and they would leave the car parked out here when
she was touring close for several days.”
Bob Wills, whose
band Texas Playboys put Cain’s Ballroom on the map with its regular shows from
1934 to 1942, was also a customer.
“We built four
saddles for him and sent them out to California when he was out there,” Bret
beloved Pistol Pete has his chaps custom created for him by the Mock Brothers.
“We have built
six or eight pairs [of chaps], and two for the spirit riders several years
ago,” Bret said. “You do two pair at a time, and it seems they need more every
two to three years. We have always had close ties with OSU. Back in the ‘80s
and ‘90s, we made saddles for the equine department, so we have always been
close to OSU.”
Hanging on the
walls alongside the family photos are headshots of Garth, Reba and even more
musicians and rodeo stars, all customers at one time or another.
While all of the
photos and memorabilia strategically placed on the walls and shelves give the
shop the feel of a museum, a sign created by one of Bret’s sons playfully
reminds customers: “This ain’t no museum, this junk’s for sale.”
shop and see for themselves 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.