Lucchese Boot Company announced through its vendors that its prices were going up dramatically on March 1. Many vendors sent out last-minute appeals for sales before the price increase took effect.
I had my eye on a particular pair of Lucchese boots, so I inquired via a reputable vendor what the cost would be to buy them with some minor customizations.
The reply startled me.
Boot guys in the know are aware that Lucchese boots can be ordered with different toe and heel styles on request with no additional charge beyond Lucchese’s already rather high prices. Boot guys also know that Lucchese boots have a more narrow-than-usual calf circumference — compared with other commercial bootmakers.
I figured out the cost of a that new pair of Lucchese boots that I had my eye on, but before I committed to a purchase, I inquired what the calf circumference was of the boots in which I was interested in buying. If the standard circumference would not accommodate me, then I would not be able to wear the boots and my investment would be a waste. I specified my calf circumference in that inquiry.
The ridiculous pricing answer I got back blew me away. I was told that if I had the customized boots made, they would have to charge me the “new” price for those boots, which was US$220 higher than the pre-increase price. That represented a 37% increase! Wow! Then on top of that, Lucchese wanted US$81 more to make custom boots with a calf circumference of just an extra 0.25 inch for me. All together, comparing the price I was offered originally and the new price that Lucchese wanted for slightly altered new boots was US$301 over my original, pre-increase price. I was truly surprised (and lots of expressions that are unprintable on this G-rated blog ran through my head — all focused negatively on Lucchese’s ridiculousness.)
Further, I was informed that Lucchese was forcing all of its third-party resellers to price their boots at full Manufactured Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), and not offer any discounts. All on-line retailers must charge exactly the same price for the same style of Lucchese boots, or be prevented from selling Lucchese products. Essentially, Lucchese is forcing a price fix — which I thought was illegal in the United States. Well, if it isn’t illegal, it unfairly takes away price competition.
Lucchese must be nuts or out of their minds, or both (I vote both). They can stick their custom boots and pricing policy where the sun don’t shine.
I like Lucchese boots. They make good quality products. I try hard to “buy American” when I can, supporting our U.S.-based bootmakers. But no way will I pay such a ridiculous amount of money for plain old leather boots. Not alligator, snake, ostrich, or other exotic skin.
Sorry, fellas, but I have turned against Lucchese for new boots. I do recommend Lucchese boots for their quality, comfort, and style. But if you want Lucchese boots, buy them via eBay or other source for “previously owned” boots. Meanwhile, if you want Lucchese quality at less ridiculous prices, consider Black Jack boots (just google the brand and you will find vendors.)
I feel that I will not be the only boot guy who will arrive at the decision that Lucchese is nuts by instituting this radical increase in pricing, forced MSRP pricing policy on third-party retailers, plus their outrageous charge for a minor adjustment for customized boots. I hope they see a significant drop in sales and readjust their thinking.
If not, they will join many of the “formerly great bootmakers” in one of three places: a) get swallowed up by Berkshire Hathaway, like Justin, Nocona, Tony Lama, and Chippewa; b) have their name purchased as a license, for boots made using that name by a crappy third-rate company in China like Frye boots are made now; or c) the annals of history when their business has to close.
Life is short: follow my bootsteps away from Lucchese (for new boots).