SOURCE: Real American Brands, Inc.

December 29, 2009 07:00 ET

Billy Martin's Boutique Celebrates 31st Birthday

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - December 29, 2009) - Billy Martin's, a wholly owned subsidiary of Real American Brands, Inc. (PINKSHEETS: RLAB), is celebrating its 31st year anniversary this week, said CEO Doug Newton, who founded the western boutique along with New York Yankee manager, Billy Martin in 1978.

"It's been a non-stop ball for 31 uninterrupted years," said Newton, "since Billy and I started selling western duds to eastern dudes in a tiny boutique just off Madison Avenue on 69th Street in New York City. Billy left the business in 1982, but his name and I stayed behind.

"Billy said the idea to open a western store was my idea," said Newton, "but if we became a success, it would be his idea. Actually, it was Mickey Mantle -- Billy's best friend -- who deserves the real credit.

"A few months earlier, on Old Timer's day, George Steinbrenner, the team's unpredictable owner, announced he was bringing Billy back to manage the Yankees for the 1980 season. To celebrate, Mickey, Billy and I met up in the back room of PJ Clarke's -- an historic Manhattan watering hole that by rights should have had saw-dust on the floor.

"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.

"That afternoon, more than a hundred well-wishers sauntered by our table, hoping to catch an autograph or two from these 'damn Yankees,' when Mickey began to notice that not a single one of them was wearing boots. This gave him a brain storm.

"Based on a study he did on a cocktail napkin, Mickey figured that if we opened a western store in the heart of Manhattan, just imagine how many boots we could sell. Whew! The possibilities were unlimited," he said.

"And 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.

"Right off the bat, we did great," Newton said, "and it didn't hurt that we caught a little lightning in a bottle as the urban cowboy rage swept the country and made its way across the globe. Soon, famous musicians, actors, athletes, writers, directors, comedians, royalty -- even a couple of world leaders -- were coming through the door.

"They were all looking for a small piece of the Old West on the upper east side of the Big Apple.

"From Dylan to the Dixie Chicks, Bono to Bibi Netanyahu; Madonna to Mikhail Gorbachev; Prince to Princess Diana; Sheryl Crow to Whoopi Goldberg -- no matter what their age, sex, race, religion, politics or national origin," Newton said, "they all seemed to share a love for America's roots, culture and western lifestyle.

"One of our regulars was Bruce Springsteen. On the cover of his album, 'Born in the USA,' he is wearing a Billy Martin belt. Bruce later gave us the idea to trademark the words 'Born & Bred in the USA.'

"When Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver tied the knot, they selected sterling silver western-style belt buckles for all the groomsmen and bridesmaids in their wedding. (Maybe someday Arnold could run for president if he was born in the USA.)

"Don Imus used to be a friend of the store, until the son-of-a-gun announced on his network TV and radio program that you need to be richer than Bill Gates to afford our 'obscenely high prices'! Thanks, Don.

"Imus swears by Justin boots, the 100+ year old company based in Fort Worth. Not long ago, Justin caught the eye of another fan of western wear, Omaha born-and-bred Warren Buffett whose company Berkshire-Hathaway eventually bought the boot company lock, stock and barrel.

"As to the future," Newton said "it's hard to know what tomorrow will hold for us and so many other small businesses across the land. But one thing's for sure:

"The historian, Alan Axelrod, wrote 'the Old West, like America, itself, was the land of great adventure and unlimited possibilities, a romantic land in which a man or woman could be free. The West called out of the American character all that was best in it -- courage, optimism, energy, self-reliance, inventiveness and sheer exuberance.'

"That's not a bad set of values for us to aspire to -- and now, more than ever, the kind of American spirit that must be kept alive."

About Real American Brands

RLAB is a non-reporting public company (www.RealAmericanBrands.com) of contemporary and western-inspired retail and wholesale brands whose origins and style reflect America's unique culture, heritage and way of life.

RLAB owns registered trademarks for "Green Blues" for its future denim line, "Born & Bred in the USA" for all apparel; Lasso®; Lariat®; Riata® (the Spanish word for lasso); Cosa Nostra® and Billy Martin's®, the western lifestyle boutique headquartered at Trump Plaza @ 1034 Third Avenue in New York City (www.BillyMartin.com).

Forward-Looking Statements

Statements about RLAB's future expectations, including future revenues and earnings, and all other statements in this news release other than historical facts are "forward-looking statements." Since these statements involve risks and uncertainties and are subject to change at any time, the company's actual results may differ materially from the company's plans if its assumptions prove to be incorrect or for a variety of other reasons.

Contact Information