Buford Seals and Bernice Townsend, Ocean Beach, California.
Buford Seals and Bernice Townsend, Ocean Beach, California.

Buford Seals, Creator of Hat 'n' Boots

Seattle, Washington

Buford Seals was one of three GIs who made a name for themselves selling army surplus in the Seattle area after World War II. Seals, described as a "zany entrepreneur," then got the idea for a Western-themed shopping center, Frontier Village. The gas station was the Hat 'n' Boots.

Even though Frontier Village was never a success, Hat 'n' Boots lived on and prospered until the Interstate came. Buford moved to San Diego, where he started a "kooky" candy store in Ocean Beach called Buford's. Open 24 hours a day, it offered more than 2,000 kinds of candy, as well as fish bait, ice cream and hot dogs. It was popular with the surf crowd, and those nodding over from "The Black," a nationally-known head shop. From his store, Buford offered to sell lottery tickets to shut-ins, if they mailed him a check or money order with a stamped return address. After 20 years in OB, the store moved to Point Loma, where it operated until Buford's retirement in 1995.

He ran Bufords with his galpal, Bernice Townsend. They wore matching western outfits and traveled around town in a white stretch limo with folk wisdom painted on it. Bernice was a former Barnum and Bailey circus acrobat. When she died in 2000, at age 98, obituaries were divided on whether Buford was Bernice's husband or companion.

Hat 'n' Boots

Oxbow Park

Address:
6427 Carleton Ave. S., Seattle, WA
Directions:
I-5 exit 162 onto Corson Ave, then south three blocks. On the left, between Eddy and Warsaw Sts, across from Dept. of Transportation maintenance shops. Park is 6430 Corson Ave S.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Vacuum Cleaner CreaturesVacuum Cleaner Creatures, Seattle, WA - < 1 mi.
RE-PC Computer MuseumRE-PC Computer Museum, Seattle, WA - 3 mi.
Walk-Thru Space ShuttleWalk-Thru Space Shuttle, Tukwila, WA - 2 mi.
In the region:
Pac-Man Park, Seattle, WA - 5 mi.

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November 12, 2018

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