The fashionistas in charge at the Fort Worth, Texas, retail giant chat about keeping it fresh and relevant after 30 years.
If you frequent Fort Worth, Texas, you undoubtedly know the name Maverick. The store is a Cowtown institution, its bold name greeting visitors via a striking mural at the corner of Main Street and Exchange Avenue.
It seems fitting that Maverick Fine Western Wear, in the heart of the Stockyards National Historic District, is the product of a Fort Worth-native fashionista whose roots in the area run deep. “The city of Fort Worth is very special to me because this is where my family has lived for six generations. It is home,” says store owner and founder Gayle Hill. “The Stockyards became a major part of my life in 1975 when my then-husband, Steve Murrin, secured the lease of the Cowtown Coliseum and brought back rodeo to the Stockyards. ... It was a great time! The Stockyards were coming back to life.”
Deciding to go into business for herself post-divorce, Hill knew the Stockyards were the place to be. She started with a gift and souvenir shop, The General Store and Trading Post, in 1983. Four years later, the storefront just across the street became available, and the rest is retail history. Today the Maverick is a Fort Worth staple, offering not only apparel, boots, and accessories but also a well-curated collection of Western décor and gifts. And it’s the only place in the Stockyards where you can shop till you drop and then recharge at an in-store saloon, all while a friendly clerk wraps up any gifts in cow-print paper.
C&I recently sat down with Hill and her longtime right hand, Susie Thurston — who oversees ladies’ apparel, gifts, and in-store merchandising — to talk fashion, Fort Worth, and just what makes the Maverick so special as they gear up to celebrate its 30th anniversary.
Cowboys & Indians: Both the building and the Maverick name have a storied history, correct?
Gayle Hill: Yes. The building is one of the first built (1905) in the area. It predates the coliseum. It was originally a hotel, whose patrons were traders and cowboys and women with questionable occupations (from what I have heard). Over the years, it has been occupied by several different bars, a liquor store, cafe, a barber shop, private club, night club, and a jewelry store. ... Most of its history, the word Maverick has been associated with it, so I very much wanted to keep it.
C&I: How long has the building’s famous mural been there?
Hill: In 1999, we commissioned Stylle Read to paint a mural on the Main Street side of our building. Stylle Read has been a part of the Maverick from our beginning. He would paint signs for us and draw invitations or paint cactus on a wood bench. Well, over the years, he has become a well-known outdoor muralist and has done work all over Texas, along Route 66 and other places. Anyway, we weren’t really specific about the design. He painted what he thought would be the best mural for that spot.
C&I: Aside from the building, what else makes the Maverick a unique retail store?
Susie Thurston: We seek out the best quality and designs that reflect the Western lifestyle. ... We also buy some items specifically for our regular clients. We do special orders for customers every day, and we still offer layaway. ... We also try to set trends for our customers by showing them different ways of accessorizing and dressing that appeals to them.
Hill: We have a loyalty program for our regular customers called the High Stakes Club. They get complimentary valet parking, refreshments, and gift certificates in a three-tiered program. We also have a lot of special events with our vendors who bring in extra products, and we serve food and refreshments. Our customers have become friends with the repeat vendors and look forward to seeing them, as well as meeting new ones at these trunk shows.
C&I: What are some of your favorite events to host?
Hill: We have some traditions because we’ve been here a while. One is serving tamales on Christmas Eve day to all who come in. We also have a holiday party every year with special gifts from us and our vendors for customers who donate toys and clothing for the inter-church agency in our neighborhood.
C&I: Will you be adding more events to the lineup this year to celebrate your milestone anniversary?
Hill: We are still in the planning stages, but it will definitely include our major suppliers and loyal customers. Stay tuned!
From the January 2017 issue.