Saddle up with the Mock Brothers
Longtime Western gear and Western wear store Mock Brothers rides into its third generation of business.
Bret Mock owns Mock Brothers Saddlery with his brother, Greg. The brothers are the third generation to carry on the family business, which has been around since 1941.
To hear the Mock brothers tell it, they weren’t saddled with the family business.
Bret and Greg Mock are the third generation carrying on the family tradition at Mock Brothers Saddlery, a sprawling retail outpost located just west of Sand Springs off the Keystone Expressway. It’s the kind of place that oozes authenticity and old-school craftsmanship that seems sorely lacking these days.
One of the first people you’re likely to meet after arriving at the Old West-themed building is Bret Mock, more the PR guy of the two brothers. He looks the part, too, with a brushy salt and pepper handlebar mustache and a stubby, unlit cigar clenched in his teeth, as he reminisces about his early years in the business.
“We pretty much grew up working in the store,” Bret says. “Dad started us out cleaning saddles.”
Back then, the store was located at the Tulsa Stockyards in Sand Springs (now the site of Yaffe Cos. scrap metal yard). Mock Brothers moved to is current location in 1976.
“We started as kids and during the summers it was real hot. There was no air conditioning. The flies were thick. I wish I had a nickel for every fly I killed,” Bret says with a chuckle.
Co-owner and younger brother Greg is the more taciturn one, but only just. While Bret works the front of the 8,800-square-foot store, Greg plies his expertise in the back, making custom saddles and a wide array of other cowboy accoutrements, along with a highly skilled team that includes his wife, Deanna Mock.
For Greg, running the family business wasn’t exactly the career he was dreaming about during the early saddle cleaning, fly swatting days.
“Yeah, I’d get into trouble at school and they’d make me come here and work,” Greg says. “I used to hate this place. By God, I wasn’t going to spend my life working here.”
But fate and family had other ideas, and decades later he finds himself still working on saddles, if not having to swat too many flies in the back of the air-conditioned building. His attitude is classic cowboy — a quiet pride expressed in a few simple, direct words.
“It’s about carrying on a family tradition. That’s what it means to me.”
That family tradition dates to 1941, when Great Uncle Claude Mock started the saddlery business in Sand Springs. He had built saddles up in Elgin, Kansas, and later worked in Fort Worth, Texas, doing the same.
Claude brought in his brothers Archie and Albert to help, and the business operated out of the stockyards until the mid 1970s, when the allure of a Western-themed shopping center (it never panned out) tempted Mock Brothers down the Keystone Expressway to its current location. In 1984, the generational torch was passed when Bret and Greg bought the business from their uncle, Richard. Their dad, also named Albert, who owned the store with Richard, had taught the two younger men well, especially when it came to making custom saddles or any other leather product that requires the skillful use of
“Lesson No. 1 was, ‘Don’t bleed on the saddle!’” Bret says with a laugh. “If you cut yourself using the tools and you bled on the saddle, the stain wouldn’t come out. My dad wasn’t worried about the cut, just the leather.”
What does the future hold for Mock Brothers? Will it stay in the family? Bret mentions two sons, one a lawyer, the other a Sapulpa firefighter. Will they or some other family member take over? For now, there doesn’t seem to be a clear answer. But after a visit to Mock Brothers, you might get the sense that Bret and Greg don’t seem ready to saddle up and ride off into the sunset just yet.
If the boot fits
City slickers beware.
You run the risk of getting roped into a new lifestyle if you visit Mock Brothers Saddlery.
For cowboys, ranchers, rodeo veterans and lovers of all things equine, Mock Brothers has it all: shining rows of saddles, endless stacks of cowboy hats and enough boots to outfit a cowboy army.
There is a host of other accoutrements, too: spurs, bridles, belts, scabbards, holsters, knives, tack and more. Plenty of Western wear for men and women.
And the pungent smell of leather saturating it all.
In other words, Mock Brothers has everything you might find in Cowboy/Cowgirl Heaven and then some. By now, you probably have a good idea of its clientele.
Co-owner Bret Mock says their customers are mainly ag-oriented people — those with acreage and animals of some sort.
Customers are greeted like longtime trail buddies. Grant Ellington has been gearing up at Mock Brothers since he was a kid. Now he’s a 38-year-old Tulsa firefighter who does competitive calf roping and also operates a horse-training business on the side with his girlfriend.
“This is my go-to place,” Ellington says. “This is where I come to get my saddles fixed, get boots, supplies, anything horse related. I love that it’s family run. You get treated right.”
He’s not alone. Rodeo royalty like Terry Don West, Austin Myers, Hank Thompson and James “Quick” Tillis, the Fightin’ Cowboy (he was once a heavyweight boxer) also have darkened the doors of Mock’s. A fair number of country music celebrities have shopped Mock’s, including Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, Brooks and Dunn, and Reba McEntire.
What they’re after is the kind of personal craftsmanship that is becoming a rarer commodity in today’s world. “Our calling card is definitely our hand-done work,” Bret says.
That means everything from hats and belts to saddles, wallets, even guitar straps are crafted, shaped or repaired by hand to meet the exact needs and preferences of the customer. Along with a near mind-boggling selection of saddles, hats, boots and other items, there’s plenty for the rodeo hero, rancher or even the city slicker who wants to get his “country and Western” on for a change.
“We’ve got about 250 saddles, hundreds of hats and boots. If you can’t find it here, chances are you don’t need it,” Bret jokes.