Taking a shine to the Stock Show
By JANE HOLLEMAN
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
Shining shoes has taken Denise Pullen to the U.S. four corners and abroad, but she can raise a flag on new turf as the first woman shoe-shiner in memory at the Stock Show.
The exhibit hall's superintendent for 36 years, Cothelle Dodson, doesn't recall a female shoe-shiner, nor does Pam Wright, special-events manager for the Stock Show, which is more than 100 years old.
Pullen's business, The Classic Shine, started small 25 years ago in Dallas with a single purpose: She hired only women.
"I wanted to give women a Monday-through-Friday, 9-to-5 job," she said. "I wanted a more stable income for women.
"I always had a vision."
After Pullen designed a portable shoeshine stand, the business branched out from stands in lobbies in Dallas to traveling and working events such as the Stock Show, she said.
"I've gone from Seattle to San Diego this year, and last year from Toronto to Fort Lauderdale," Pullen, 47, said at her station in the Justin Arena. "I've shined shoes in Montreux, Switzerland."
Some longtime employees at the Plano-based business are passing down the art of the shoeshine to their young relatives, Pullen said. And she has recently started hiring men.
Pullen, who has never married, said shoe-shining has given her a nice lifestyle but keeps her on her toes.
"I make a very good living, but you have to get up and show up every day," she said.
She has shined shoes on some well-heeled celebrities, including former NFL stars Terry Bradshaw and Roger Staubach, rodeo legends Larry Mahan and Ty Murray and country singer Tanya Tucker.
"I remember she gave me a $20 tip," Pullen said.
In their first year at the Stock Show, shoe-shiners might be wary of the animal byproducts on some of the boots, but Pullen said the job is made easier by cowboys' penchant for tending their footwear. "The cowboys like to get their boots shined," she said. "They know to come get it done."
Although business is good, Pullen hasn't retired to the boardroom with an executive title, she said.
"I'm just a Plano shoeshine girl," she joked. "I don't have a title. I shine shoes."
Staff writer Christy Goelz contributed to this report.