Found this diamond in the rough while passing through the small Nevada gambling town of Elko looking for coffee and a peak at King, the world’s largest stuffed polar bear, residing in a casino lobby down the street. I walked in right before Jesus, a sunburned drifter from Spain who followed me around the store rambling something at me, a curse maybe, through his broken grin. Maria, the sweet and helpful shopkeeper of 22 years told me “just ignore him and he’ll go away” but what an endearing introduction to such a unique place. After some staring at each other Jesus split and I got to shopping.
Elko General Merchandise has been around since 1936 and offers the best to “ranchers, buckaroos, shepherds, poets, miners, construction workers, sportsmen, and tourists”. I love the look of the place, stockpiled, filled to the ceiling, unedited – just a strong offering of strong goods, built to last. You don’t find many left like this. Reminded me of a western version of Levinsky’s, the long-gone Maine outfitter where I used to climb a wooden ladder to find my size jeans. While I was in there a met a rancher and dedicated Filson customer who came to town to pick up a Cruiser coat. He dropped the 300+ cash on the counter and boasted he’d never need to buy another. It felt like someone was putting me on. Too good.
Maria told me some Japanese dudes came in once and offered 10k for this little guy but the buckaroo ain’t for sale. They’ve had it and the banner since they received it in a Levi’s promotional package.
So many boots. Work boots, hiking boots, cowboy boots, engineer boots, biker boots, steel toe boots, ranch hand boots, logger boots- Danner, White’s, Red Wing, Georgia, Filson, Road Wolfs. I picked up a new wedge boot….
Also grabbed one from the forgotten repairs box. Well-worn and of the logger variety, they have been lying around waiting to be picked up since the new heal and tread in 2004. The price? $30- the cost of the repair. Incredible.
If I had my own list of best stores for men in America this would be top 5. Love the vibe, people, experience. Well worth the stop if you’re ever in passing through Elko for coffee with a polar bear. 416 Idaho Street.