Houston 101

Texas Junk Company Closes After Three Decades of Selling Houstonians Boots

After weeks of uncertainty about the store's fate, the Texas Junk Company finally closed its Montrose doors last weekend, owner Bob Novotney said. The junk store had been open for more than three decades.

“I will feel so much relief to get out of this town,” Novotney said, adding, “Houston is going to be a great place to come back and visit.” According to the store's Facebook page, Saturday was the last day that the shop was open.

Novotney first learned back in August that he'd lost his lease, though he was allowed to stay on his property until the end of September, as we've previously reported. He thought that he might be able to remain till the spring, but instead Novotney – who never retained a lawyer to represent him – said he got sued for eviction.

“I read the laws, looked it up and thought I had the answers. I learned a lesson…I just screwed up,” Novotney said.

After a 45-minute-long hearing on Friday, the fate of the Texas Junk Company was sealed: “A constable is coming [and] forcibly removing me from the property,” Novotney said, though he's not sure when exactly that will happen. For now, he's focusing on packing away decades' worth of junk as quickly as he (and some helpers) can.

The Texas Junk Company already has a new store location in Moulton, about two hours west of Houston, though Novotney has yet to decide when he'll actually open there. First, he plans to take some time off, maybe take a road trip or fly up to Alaska to visit family.

In 1979, Novotney was actually just passing through Houston on his way to Alaska, where he worked as a seasonal firefighter, when an old friend asked him to go into the junk business with her. “'No, I'll miss fire season,'” Novotney remembered saying. “But I got talked into it, and I didn't go back up.”

Though his friend eventually left the shop, Novotney stayed on and helped the Texas Junk Company develop a reputation for its massive, eclectic collection of worn boots – shoppers could find pairs made of everything from plastic to elephant hide. A few years ago, a Lucky magazine editor spotted a pair of Texas Junk Company boots on the feet of a young Houston woman, and magazine staffers soon wrote a story about the shop that made its popularity explode, Novotney said. On Sunday, many of those fabled boots were packed away in bags, ready to be hauled away.

When asked if he had anything to say to his many customers over the years, Novotney said, “Well, thank you is always nice.”

He had no regrets over his time in Houston. “I worked hard, and I didn't have to work for anybody. It took me a long time before I accumulated any money, but that didn't matter as long as I had money in my pocket and the bills were paid.”
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Carter is the Houston Press fellow. A Seattle native, she graduated from Northwestern University and also has written for Elle, Los Angeles magazine and Ms. Magazine.
Contact: Carter Sherman