Billy Martin's Western Store To the Stars Closes on Upper East Side
By Amy Zimmer
DNAinfo News Editor
MANHATTAN — From Sheryl Crow and the Dixie Chicks to Sylvester Stallone and Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Martin’s has prided itself — and dotted its website — with its list of celebrity customers buying the 32-year-old company’s cowboy boots, belt buckles and other high-end western gear.
Its famous clientele, though, apparently couldn’t help keep the leather-filled store open. Its owners announced this week that the shop at the gilded Trump Plaza on Third Avenue at East 61st Street, where it moved in 2007 from a location nearby, will close.
Sports agent Doug Newton opened the store with Billy Martin — the hot-tempered manager of the New York Yankees — to sell "western duds to eastern dudes."
"The closing is a result of several factors, but the bottom line is that our bottom line was not in the black." Newton said in a statement, first reported by Jeremiah's Vanishing New York.
Newton credited the shop's idea to Yankee great Mickey Mantle, who noticed few New Yorkers wearing cowboy boots.
"Mantle was wearing cowboy boots because he was an Oklahoman and country boy at heart. I wore them because I came from Colorado, and Billy wore boots because Mickey did," Newton said in 2009. "Mickey figured that if we opened a western store in the heart of Manhattan, just imagine how many boots we could sell."
Martin thought the shop could give him a leg up on Steinbrenner.
"When you add in 'extra sales and profits' from western shirts, belts, buckles and hats — Billy chimed in — we could be on easy street and George Steinbrenner, his boss and nemesis, can go herd cats, or something," Newton recalled.
The store did well when it opened, riding the coattails of the "Urban Cowboy" craze.
Newton has said that Bruce Sprinsteen wore a Billy Martin belt on the "Born in the USA" album cover and that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver selected sterling silver western-style belt buckles for their groomsmen and bridesmaids at their wedding.
Newton, who bought Martin out of the shop in 1982, left an opening for a comeback: "This does not mean we will not reopen in New York and/or other locales in the future," he said this week.