If you think modern Western wear is a style suited only for cowboys and farmers, Bob Reagan can prove you wrong with his years of experience of selling the merchandise.
As the owner of Reagan's Green Acres, he has seen plenty of men come into his store to buy from his selection of Western wear, which offers mostly cowboys hats, belts and boots. However, it wasn't until four years ago that he began to see women of all ages show interest in his Western wear, mostly ladies' boots.
"I researched it, and apparently Taylor Swift started that," Reagan said with a chuckle. "In fact, a couple of girls from Wilson Hall school came into my store and asked for some boots."
Reagan said he's had plenty of women come to him for boots, initially only interested in the style. They weren't expecting them to be comfortable, he said, but once they tried them on, they were surprised at how good they felt on their feet.
The reason they say they are interested in the style seldom varies, Reagan said.
"They'd say something like 'you know, I went to a homecoming football game at Clemson, and every girl there had on cowboy boots,'" Reagan said.
This rise in interest in ladies' Western wear encouraged Reagan to offer more ladies' boots; he said he's sold more in the past four years than any other product in his store. That just goes to show most people in Western wear aren't ranchers or farmers, he thinks.
"Ninety-nine percent of people who wear Western wear have actually never been on a horse or farmed. It's a style," Reagan said.
Like other styles of clothing, he said, Western wear was created with a function in mind. He compared people today who dress in Western wear to those who wear tennis shoes when they are not playing tennis, which he said was "a shame because that's what they are made for."
Reagan said he has seen Western wear's popularity go up and down many times in his lifetime, but never has it gone completely out of style. There's a very simple explanation why the style caught on not just across the U.S. but around the world, he thinks.
"It's tough," he said.
Reagan started his business in 1979 after retiring from the U.S. Air Force at Shaw Air Force Base. He originally opened a plant nursery, but he and his wife, Joyce, decided to open the store because there was no other place specializing in Western wear in Sumter at the time.
"I've worn (Western wear) all my life," Reagan said. "Our motto is 'wear American, dress Western,' because this is the only true American style, and all the other styles are created somewhere else."
Reagan's Green Acres is located on 2441 Jereco Road off West Brewington Road in Sumter. The store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The store is closed on Sundays and Mondays. Reach the business at (803) 469-0859.