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So, I Want To Start A Tack Store


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#1 Coppers mom

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 10:31 PM

I've decided I want to start a tack store. In my area, there is only one other tack store, and it only has very high end stuff that you wouldn't buy unless you were in some big shows. I think they need some competition, and there has to be a market for stuff that costs less than $500. It's in a very big horsey area, so I'm not worried about having customers.

I want a store that people can go to for everything. Schooling tack, feed, show, everything. I've gotten in contact with a tack producer in Spain who makes really nice bridles and boots at an amazing price, and they're willing to allow me to be a dealer. I'm planning on contacting Purina, because the location I've picked is far enough away from other dealers that I qualify to be a distributor. I'd also like to contact Zaldi because I really like some of their dressage saddles and the Zaldi Star.

What other brands do you like? For schooling? Show? When you walk into a tack store, what kind of set up do you like? I'm thinking of having it divided into sections like Wal-Mart or Home Depot; Schooling, Show, and Supplies. What items do you look for in an all-around store? Other than feed, what kind of extra supplies do you need to pick up pretty frequently that you don't want to drive all over the place to find or order out of a catalog? Any help would be really appreciated!

#2 Emily_P

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 10:47 PM

Grooming equipment is always nice...brushes, combs, bands, shampoos and sprays, etc. Things like leg wraps, sheets/blankets, worming paste, supplements are good to have around too, maybe some helmets and basic riding apparel..not sure I've never started a business. What I wouldn't give to have a tack store around here so I could get all my horse stuff in one place!

Good luck! :)
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#3 Jump_It29

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 10:57 PM

Oh, I'm glad you want to sell Zaldi stuff. I have the Star, and I adore it (the only other saddle I would trade it for would be a County Stabilizer because they surprisingly ride very similarly). Every person who has sat in it has loved it.

Random question, but are you familiar with the market pricing for the Zaldi Stars lately? I know about 3/4 years ago they retailed at around $850 but have shot up to as high as $1500 since they've risen (slowly) in popularity. Would they require you to have a limit to how low you can price it? Just wondering!

Anyways, do you plan on having a selection of apparel? As for sections, you could have Horse, Rider, Hunter/Jumper, Dressage, Schooling, Barn maybe?

I don't really have any ideas right now, sorry for not being helpful!

Edited by Jump_It29, 13 August 2008 - 10:59 PM.

~D

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#4 NOTjustanotherpony

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 11:06 PM

Agreed with the grooming equipment. As much as possible. Also, start a consignment section.

Basically, presentation and community is everything. With any local tack store, completely regardless of nearby competition, customers can order the exact same product from Dover for 2/3 the price, pay tax and shipping, and still save instead of buying it from you. Therefore there are three reasons they will actually go to the tack store-
1. Convenience. There really isn't much you can do about this other than pick an appropriate location- a clean, well-sized space nearby local equestrian facilities. This can be financially easier because barns are rarely in the center of town or in any remotely desirable retail real estate locations. Your customer base is basically people who already know where your store is, and either ride or have specific plans to begin riding (i.e., already have set up lessons at a local stable). No one just is wandering around and decides to stop in a horse supply store, and if they do for some unknown reason, it is incredibly unlikely they would buy anything.
2. Community. This is where you can get an edge on the other tack store in your area- people go into the local tack shop instead of ordering from Dover for the equestrian connection. Despite all the crazies out there, the vast majority of horse people are genuinely kind, warm people who have an affinity for animals and living creatures. You want to make your tack shop not only a place where people go to buy tack- you want it to become a place where they go to hear about the latest equestrian products, and information, and news, you want it to become a place where they go to find out about equestrian events and shows in their area, and you mainly want it to become a place where they go to meet other people with the same passion for horses that they have. How many horse owners have you met who just won't stop talking about their beloved mount? You can create a space to share and learn from each other. You can encourage this in SO many ways, and many of them don't even require any extra financial commitment. You can start bulletin boards with local events and a big one with pictures of locals and their horses, you can ask professionals in the industry to come in and give talks, you can travel to all the local barns and make a truly personal connection. You can really use charisma to your advantage.
3. Presentation. My local tack shop looks and has the slight feel to a barn. As we all know, barns are not dirty, but seeing potential products in an atmosphere that doesn't compliment them isn't inviting. If you see all the nice, new shiny products hewn about and looking like they will when you take them home, there's really no incentive. Most of the people coming in will be there to pick something specific- they ran out of hoof polish, they need a new saddle pad. Most of the time their purchases will not be significant, unless they are starting out riding and need new apparel. Now, this is just basic marketing- you want people to come in looking for hoof polish and on their way out, see that gorgeous new hunt coat and just have to get it. You need to make people want everything in your store!

Hope I helped!

Edited by NOTjustanotherpony, 13 August 2008 - 11:06 PM.

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#5 Coppers mom

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 11:09 PM

Because I'd be a dealer, I'd get it for a different price than what you see in stores. Most of the price increase has been from the cost of making/shipping them going up, so it'll be hard to say. If I can work out the same deal I got with the Spanish tack maker, I'll be able to offer them at a lower price than anybody else. There's only one other Zaldi dealer in the state, so it'll hopefully work out well for everybody.

#6 Coppers mom

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 11:15 PM

QUOTE (NOTjustanotherpony @ Aug 14 2008, 04:06 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
With any local tack store, completely regardless of nearby competition, customers can order the exact same product from Dover for 2/3 the price, pay tax and shipping, and still save instead of buying it from you.


Thanks for the help, but I completely disagree with this. Even in the high end tack store, stuff is less expensive than in Dover, and they mark everything up. I've routinely found stuff up to $30-$70 less than what's offered in Dover. Because they've got a magazine, large selection, and nice website, people think they're getting the best deal, but they really aren't. I hardly ever order anything from Dover anymore unless it's a great sale or I can't find it somewhere else.

There's a local coffee shop around here who's great and everyone goes to, but they only have one location. I was thinking about maybe asking them if they'd like a little corner of the store. But, I don't know if that's a little to Barnes and Noble...

#7 K. Blue

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 11:24 PM

Keep everyday items on hand: grooming supplies, saddle pads, wraps and bandages, schooling tack (I really like the Bobby's Bridles--great for a budget and still look nice enough for the show ring), apparel, etc.

Plenty of parking is a must! A good location (easy to find and navigate) is always a plus.

Have a discount room.

Customer service is more important now than before: people want to feel special and taken care of. Have courteous and knowledgeable sales associates (this will really go a long way).

There's a ton that goes into starting up and surviving in the tack shop business...but I think you can make it work!

I would suggest reading Seven Steps to Success by Greg Ubert. It is based on opening an independent coffee shop, but the information Greg provides can be used in any business. He gave me a copy of it when I did my internship with CrimsonCup Coffee in 2005. I've used it several times for my business classes.

Best of luck! Please keep us updated on your shop! smileywavey.gif
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#8 Coppers mom

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 11:38 PM

K. Blue: Thanks for the book suggestion! I've got a bunch of stuff from when my mom wanted to start a vineyard (she's so cute, lol), but I don't have that one.

My friend and I are going into it. He's already gotten his MBA, and I'm in the process of getting one. In the beginning, I don't think we'll be able to hire extra help though. I'm pretty good with people and helping with tack, and he's really good at the accounting and organizing, so I think I'll be out front and he'll be doing that kind of stuff. Would only having two people on hand feel too small? Or should I try and hire somebody (I've got someone in mind. She's great with people, but I don't know if I can afford her) to make it easier on us and make customers feel like they can get help more easily?

#9 OneBigJourney

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 11:39 PM

Sponsor local shows! Donate small things like brushes or something for prizes...your store's name will be in the program and the announcer will mention it several times. Just something I've noticed at shows and thought I'd remind you about (although I'm sure you've already thought about it lol). Good luck and keep us updated!! Are you planning on having a website, too?
Katie
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to be picked up and laid down like a game of Solitaire.
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#10 Coppers mom

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Posted 13 August 2008 - 11:46 PM

Yup, my buddy's good at websites, which is something else he can handle.

If the shows don't have a pamphlet class list type thing, should I get a banner? The suppliers I've already contacted are going to send some, so I'm thinking about getting one for out front anyways...

#11 mlong13

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 12:04 AM

Is there an IHSA team near you? We used to sell advertising space on the fences for our courses...about $150-$200. That'd be a great way to get a team to spend $$ on you.

Or even if there's a local schooling show, ask if you could place a banner across a fence...that'd get you a whole barn's worth of people :)

There was a tack store that opened in my home town that literally drove the other tack store out of business...but not before they got fancy radio advertisements, of course. They got brushes and horse cookie bags printed with their name, and handed them out to local barns. The horse cookies would be pretty cheap...get some of those little plastic gift bags printed up and voila...custom looking cookies.

Good luck!

Edited by mlong13, 14 August 2008 - 12:05 AM.


#12 Irishdiddy

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 05:40 AM

Before you think about what you are going to carry and offer and what demographic you are going to cater to...you need to find the location. The first three rules in marketing are 1 Location 2 Location 3 Location.

It really is important. May not seem like it when there is such an obvious need in a "one horse town". But honestly, the wrong location will sink you faster than anything else.


After that as an aside, I think you need to poll horse riders in your town. Do you have a local horse rag? Take out an ad asking for survey memebers, with maybe a little cheap gift to bring them in. Ask THEM what they'd like to see at the local tack shop. What WE want to see on HC is nice, but we are scattered all over the globe. You need to know what people want within a 25 mile radius.


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#13 Cappuccino_Girl

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 06:12 AM

For some random 'global' input, here are a couple of places you could get in touch with. They may or may not be of use to you. I give all their products an A+ for quality/value for money

Classic Saddlery : excellent quality British made tack I'm 99% sure they supply Northrun so you may be out of luck here, but it's worth a try).
St Hippolyt : horse feed/supplement company.
Nag Rags : funky color-co-ordinated stuff for your inner teenager/event rider.
Joules Clothing : crazy trend going on in equestrian circles in the UK for their clothes. Not quite sure why, but I'm sure it would travel quite nicely.
Hunter Wellingtons : 'cult' wellington boots. Quite possibly indestructable. I couldn't live without mine!
Griffin Nuumed : manufacturers of top quality sheepskin numnahs and half-pads.

Good luck with your endevor; if you do go ahead with it, then you'll be living out my dream!
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#14 MarsCandyBar

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 08:01 AM

Variety.

You'll not want to carry crap that falls apart obviously, but make sure you carry a lower end, middle of the road, and higher end variation in things like tack - esp bridles, leathers, reins, saddle pads etc. I think that's what you where going for with "schooling" and "show" - but remember that not everyone can afford the $300 "show" bridle, some of us just have to keep the $75 "schooling" bridle clean and supple, and to be honest not many people at a show see the difference.

I'm not sure I would segregate the store by "schooling" and "show" for just that reason. Put all your bridles on the same wall - lower prices on the left working to the higher prices on the right. That way people have all their choices right there in front of them. Organize your leathers and girths the same way. Basically the same thing with saddle pads - the colorful square schooling pads on one rack, then the traditional white squares, over to the fitted white show pads.


I say this only because it would personally annoy me if I had to run in real quick to buy a bridle because pookie broke his, the first bridle rack I see is the "show" rack. I don't know that there's another section of bridles in the store because I've never been here and I'm in a hurry so I don't look. I drop $150 on a bridle because Pookie's head doesn't fit into anyone else's bridle until I can order a cheaper one. I later go back in and find that you also carry a $50 bridle that would have suited Pookie and I just fine, but I've already oiled and used the $150 one so I can't return it.

Now I'm not a happy, satisfied customer.


For sure look into local riding clubs, horse shows, 4-H groups. Offer a 4-H group or IHSA team percentage discounts (we get 10% at a shop down in Indy), sponsor a variety of classes with gift certificates - from leadline to the hunter classics, you want to draw a variety of business.


Make sure your counter has shelves in it or a shelf nearby with gift type items on it - Breyers, stuffed animals, kid friendly knick knacks that don't cost much - they sell well when the kid sees it as mom's standing at the checkout :-)
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#15 Foxie_Eventer

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 08:11 AM

Beval italia bell boots!!!!!!! Good bell boots are always a must!


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#16 Little Bay

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 08:35 AM

I've known several people who have started tack stores that have eventually failed.

Even Dover is not profitable right now. Take a look at their financials on yahoo.com/finance

However, if you have your heart set on owning one, my reccomendation would be to buy an existing, well-established shop that's already profitable.

Too risky to start one from scratch IMO.

#17 Little Bay

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 08:43 AM

Oh - and according to friends that have owned shops, the items that move are flyspray, wound care, etc. Things that people need right away.

The larger items - riding apparel and tack... people will come into the store and try them on, compare to other brands, make a decision. And then go home to comparison shop online.

Coffee shop idea - They work in bookstores because people tend to browse and stay in the store for awhile. Tack shops... not so much.

I'd offer coffee free to encourage people to stay and browse and hopefully buy more rather than the other way around.

I'm surprised your friend with the MBA is interested in this -- s/he could land a job in the upper five to low six-figures. I'm guessing you'd be lucky to get a quarter of that with a small town tackshop.

Whatever you decide to do, I wish you the best of luck.

#18 goldentoes

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 08:51 AM

Beyond what is in the store and the prices, the number one reason I like a tack store and shop there is customer service.

If a store doesn't have what I want, can I order it?

If I can't find something, is someone RIGHT there to help me?

Is the staff friendly and knowledgable? Can they suggest products to me, etc?

Return policies? Consignment?

it's amazing, but I'll spend more and drive farther to go to a store with good customer service. I've been in some tack stores where I feel like I'm getting the "pretty woman" treatment, where I'm ignored until I suggest I might be buying a big ticket item. I've been standing in line to buy small things, and had the cashiers take the person BEHIND me to look at a blanket they needed fixed, instead of ringing me up. At one store I got basically ignored (just a "hi, how are you? need any help today?" is nice) until they realized I had access to an expense account. And then they were falling over themselves to help every time I came in. The only reason I went there was because of location...

And of course a good supply of grooming/wound care stuff is essential, that's the biggest reason I ever have to stop at tack shops to begin with.
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#19 goldentoes

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 08:52 AM

QUOTE (Little Bay @ Aug 14 2008, 09:43 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Coffee shop idea - They work in bookstores because people tend to browse and stay in the store for awhile. Tack shops... not so much.


You've never seen me browse a tack shop, LOL. If it was an Olympic event, I'd totally have a gold medal.
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#20 montikarla

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 09:35 AM

Personally, I hate buying tack online, but I really like shops that have websites because I want to know what they carry before I go. I also check the website if I am looking for something in particular, like a supplement brand.

Good quality supplements are good to have. I would look at different tack shop websites to see what they carry and make decisions based on that. Carry brands that you know are good and that work. Try out your products to make sure that you can actually talk about the product when a customer asks you about it.

Good luck. A friend of mine and I want to start a consignment tack shop someday. I hope it works out for you.

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#21 mlong13

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 10:21 AM

Ok, just remembered something.

Are there a lot of shows in your area? There is one tack store that brings a selection of grooming products, wound care, saddle pads, and ANYTHING you could imagine forgetting/breaking at a show. They set up a booth and make tons of money! (Esp. since they bring pretty colored schooling pads and all the kids want one for their pony...)

I'd bring braiding supplies, crops, spurs, stirrup leathers, show shirts, breeches (for those who split their pants, lol).

Just a suggestion :)

#22 wiseacre

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 10:27 AM

AHHH! I'd be sure to stop by if you are near!! Where in NC are you? I'm in Charlotte-area. (Monroe/Indian Trail) That sounds REALLY cool. I like Heritage, Ovation, etc. Those are good schooling brands... Argyle is the "in" thing now... lol... at least I like it! :P Be sure to have zocks and other riding socks. I love those! Also, think about having consignment, so people can bring their stuff in to sell through you, for a percentage. That's a great way to get customers who can't afford the more expensive, newer stuff.

We can always use another tack store!! xD

WHOO HOO!
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#23 wiseacre

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 10:29 AM

QUOTE (Jump_It29 @ Aug 14 2008, 03:57 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Oh, I'm glad you want to sell Zaldi stuff. I have the Star, and I adore it (the only other saddle I would trade it for would be a County Stabilizer because they surprisingly ride very similarly). Every person who has sat in it has loved it.

Random question, but are you familiar with the market pricing for the Zaldi Stars lately? I know about 3/4 years ago they retailed at around $850 but have shot up to as high as $1500 since they've risen (slowly) in popularity. Would they require you to have a limit to how low you can price it? Just wondering!

Anyways, do you plan on having a selection of apparel? As for sections, you could have Horse, Rider, Hunter/Jumper, Dressage, Schooling, Barn maybe?

I don't really have any ideas right now, sorry for not being helpful!

...you like county stabilizers?? I have one! Come 'n get it! (pm me!) flirt.gif

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#24 Coppers mom

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 10:52 AM

Thanks so much for all the advice guys! I admit, I'm the one who likes the coffee shop flirt.gif

Also, it's my friend's "senior project", so we'll be getting help from all of his teachers and everything. They'll be coming down, checking it out, etc.

I like the idea of having it go from least to more expensive from left to right.

We do have a lot of shows in our area. The really expensive tack shop kind of has a hold on that though. They bring a huuuuuge 30' long trailer crammed full of stuff. Should I set up right next to them so they can compare? Or should I set off so they don't see that we have less?

#25 Jump_It29

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 03:27 PM

QUOTE (wiseacre @ Aug 14 2008, 11:29 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
...you like county stabilizers?? I have one! Come 'n get it! (pm me!) flirt.gif


Don't you dare tempt me!
I have absolutely no justification for a new saddle... you are evil! LOL
~D

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#26 mygoldfish

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 07:12 PM

i also really, really like the idea of setting products up from least expensive to most expensive. if at all possible, i would do that with all of your products. i would love to go into a tack store and be able to know exactly what my options are based on my budget, rather than having to sort through fifty halters, fishing for the tags, to figure out which ones are in my price range and which is a better deal. If one of the tack stores in town did that, it would automatically be my first choice for shopping (whether last-minute/emergency buy or just browsing).

i'm trying to think of anything else...i agree with Mars on the variety idea...make sure you have everything from really nice show-quality stuff to backyard pony ride stuff. I also wouldn't separate things based on whether or not it's supposedly show tack...i mean, just because it's not specifically MEANT to be show tack and it's not several hundred dollars doesn't mean some 4her isn't gonna go to fair in it.

rather than show, schooling, etc. sections, i would have sections for clothing (human), suppliments, grooming supplies, bridles and halters, misc. tack, etc.
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#27 aeris

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 07:50 PM

If you go to shows, please, please bring the things we'll actually need at a show. Everybody brings all sorts of fancy tack and crazy clothing, when I really need flyspray or that flash strap that magically disappeared off my bridle.

Oh and be friendly! Doesn't seem like much to ask for, but I'm sick of going into tack shops only to be given the stink-eye. Seriously, I'm the customer, and I deserve to be treated nicely!
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#28 hunterguy398

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 08:06 PM

QUOTE (aeris @ Aug 15 2008, 12:50 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
If you go to shows, please, please bring the things we'll actually need at a show. Everybody brings all sorts of fancy tack and crazy clothing, when I really need flyspray or that flash strap that magically disappeared off my bridle.

Oh and be friendly! Doesn't seem like much to ask for, but I'm sick of going into tack shops only to be given the stink-eye. Seriously, I'm the customer, and I deserve to be treated nicely!

Big ditto to aeris! Do you know how many time's I've gone to a show and not been able to find my hoof pick or polish?? It's always nice when you can pick up the practical stuff when you really need it.

And it is sooooooooo important to be friendly. I can't stress that enough. At the tack shop by me, I dread going into it when a certain woman who works there is on duty. Talk about miserable. She acts like she's better than everyone else. It was a pain the butt to get her to assist me in trying on helmets... rolleye0014.gif
--Chris--

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I met a board buddy! Paintpony1

#29 wiseacre

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 10:21 PM

Oh, I second the Coffee Shop idea!!! OMG that would be the coolest thing. You should have the coolest tack store ever... a Caribou Coffee-slash-Riding Outlet store! lol Like Tar-jay! heehee!!

And you must have NICE employees. I hate the beeyotches who run my local tack store. I dread going there... I mean, I LOVE going to tack stores to hang out and shop all day, but these people are plain belligerent. bang_head.gif Everyone's so snooty!



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#30 hunterguy398

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 10:46 PM

QUOTE (wiseacre @ Aug 15 2008, 04:21 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Oh, I second the Coffee Shop idea!!! OMG that would be the coolest thing. You should have the coolest tack store ever... a Caribou Coffee-slash-Riding Outlet store! lol Like Tar-jay! heehee!!

Tar-jay. Now we're talkin'! That's a store worth emulating! LOL
--Chris--

aka. Dude.
HorseCity's resident Hunter Prince.

I met a board buddy! Paintpony1