Unlimited access >

What do want to see in your local tack shop?

Okay, Poll Time!
We have the opportunity to open a smallish tack and feed shop (if we find that it is viable), and would love to know what you would like to see and would purchase most often in your local tack and feed shop! Our feed selection will be limited to just horses (we are trying for Triple Crown, for feed and Standlee, for alfalfa pellets, beet pulp etc) We will be primarily English, I’m a hunter/jumper trainer, and we will be surrounded by several dressage and eventing barns. . . . So if you guys don’t mind, let me have it, what do you want and what would stop you from buying in store vs online from one of the two big retailers? I should mention, we will have an online presence as well, if this works! Thanks in advance!

QUALITY leather tack. It doesn’t have to be Dover, a simple selection of basic strap goods should suffice. The biggest issue I have with 95% of local tack shops is they have nothing but cheap, perpetually dry, poor quality leather items. Why even bother? I get that a few inexperienced folks will likely take the bait, but that doesn’t seem smart or sustainable.

I would travel a good distance to be able to browse through a selection, even a limited one, of good tack. I know I am not alone.

I am totally unaware of the legalities and headaches involved in selling tack and other items on consignment, but personally I cannot resist a shop with a consignment section.

Things I want to buy at local tack stores:

-Anything that may incur additional freight charges when ordering online. This includes fly spray, show sheen, liniment, shampoo, big buckets of treats, and common supplements.

-Anything I may need or run out of unexpectedly. Injury-related things are a big one: vet wrap, elastikon, gauze sponges, pound cotton, poultice, common ointments. Easyboots are something that I will buy at almost any price at the tack store, because you never know when you will need one and it seems I almost never have the correct size around.

-Halters, lead ropes, fly masks: those things that magically seem to disappear around barns.

-Buckets, feed pans, etc. They fall into all of the categories above.

-Basic tack. I’m less likely to shop for “big ticket” items (saddles, bridles) at a tack store these days when I know I can order them online at a better cost. But if I bring home a new horse who needs a 52" girth and I don’t have one, the first place I’m going to head is the local tack store.

What determines how frequently I patronize a tack store is pricing. I understand running a brick and mortar small business is expensive, and I expect to pay more. But no matter how convenient, I’m not going to buy fly spray at 2-3 times the cost of the competitors.

Quality breeches. I would much prefer to try on breeches (especially Pikeur :smiley: ) instead of just buying them from a catalogue. And it would be great to have them in smaller sizes. Also, a nice selection of footwear–from rubber muck boots to nice paddocks (excellent quality tall boots would be awesome too :tickled_pink: )

To be honest, I would be floored just to have an English/Dressage flair tack shop near me. I have to drive 2 hours to find a tack store that has some of those things. Most of the tack shops here are in someone’s basement that they will open up for you to come and grab something.

Since people do tend to have to travel some distance for tack shops, I would recommend having a nice public bathroom. I don’t know if it 's in the cards for you at this point but definitely a nice commodity to have.

Good luck, I would love to open a tack shop–it sounds like a lot of fun!

Consignment section – I want to see what I am buying, not just try to figure out if I like it on ebay or facebook. I would think consignment clothes would go over really well, too.

A good selection of safety equipment, helmets, maybe vests even. Cell phone holders. You can’t go wrong with horsey knicknacks either, for quick gifts or a splurge. Not too many though.

Thanks guys, keep the suggestions coming!

I agree with almost all of the above! We will have a nice restroom and dressing rooms. The store will be located at the farm, but will be free standing with normal business hours.

We want to have nearly everything you need for a horse and plan to be competitively priced, that being said, we will not be quite as cheap for fly spray etc, just because we cannot order hundreds of units at one time. I would expect fly spray on average to be about $1.00 more per bottle, but no shipping and no waiting! Hopefully that will make it worth it!

We will carry the higher end breeches and clothing (even Pikeur!), as well as the more affordable brands. There will be a decent selection of footwear with the nicer custom boots available through us also. We can’t stock a ton of footwear, simply because the cost of having a large quantity on hand is ridiculously expensive. We plan on having 2-3 prs of paddocks for adults, the same for kids, 3-4 prs of tall boots for adults and 2 prs for children as well as a few cold weather options and mud/rubber boots, We will also have a couple of pairs of the cute leather casual boots you see lots of riders wearing.

We will also carry nice leather goods. . . I agree that low quality leather is a problem, and will hope that we can convince people that quality will always be less expensive in the long run!

As far as first aid goes, we will have it all! I can’t stand needing to treat a wound and not being able to purchase what I need! I’m also thinking that maybe we should have an after hours number in case someone needs something important, I don’t want a midnight phone call for something ridiculous though!

The only thing we really don’t think will work is consignment. . .we will take consignment saddles, and maybe saddles on trade, but there is almost no money to be made on consignment clothing or other tack. It also takes up a lot of space and we will be limited. I’m also thinking that maybe our farm will host a tack swap once a year, so that people can get the great deals, but the store will not have to deal with having to keep up with what belonged to whom etc. . .

Thanks again! I can’t wait to see all the suggestions!

These days, it’s so easy to shop online and not have to deal with traffic and parking. For me, going to a bricks-and-mortar tack shop is a treat, so it’s a real plus to go into a local tack shop and have nice, helpful people working there. There are several tack shops near my home. One has the nicest people who seem happy to see you, to help, and even ask about your horse or recent show or whatever, suggest a new product if they sense you’d appreciate it. The owner knows the people and barn–and even what’s trending around the shows in the area so people can outfit themselves or their kids and feel comfortable about turning up somewhere dressed appropriately. The store displays include some cool old vintage trophies/prizes and photos on the walls, which kind of give off a happy feeling about the sport so I tend to want to linger a little and look, maybe splurge and buy something else I didn’t plan to when I entered. One of the other shops nearby doesn’t feel so friendly. The people seem too busy to be bothered, always conversing among themselves so you feel you’re interrupting if you have to ask for help. I go there as a last resort and get in and out of there as quickly as possible. So aside from price and selection, I think a good tack shop owner also ought to consider the vibe.

I don’t know if there are other bricks and mortar tack stores around you but where I live, there are two main ones and a couple of smaller ones. The two biggest ones seem to focus on different areas–one has a huge selection of apparel, including casual apparel, but not much tack, while the other is tack heavy and lighter in the apparel department. The one thing they all seem to lack is supplements! I have to drive way out of my way to get Farrier’s Formula Double Strength and the national online store (I’m in Canada), which also has two bricks and mortar stores within 60 miles of me, doesn’t carry it.

Don’t forget a good variety of hard hats! It’s always best if people can try them on before they buy.

For example, I love the Charles Owens helmets but they just don’t fit my somewhat round head. Troxels work really well for me. So having a variety of helmet styles would be good.

Also, do make sure you have a good inventory of schooling breeches/tights (full seat for dressage riders, patches for hunter riders). I want to be able to try stuff on and buy rather than mail order and then have to return if they aren’t right. Maybe others feel the same. Of course the pricing has to be reasonable as well compared to internet plus shipping, so I’m not sure how much wiggle room you have there…

It might be worth your while to try to canvas the riders in your area as to what they want. I have found that where you live, what type of riders and what they are willing to spend will influence what a tack shop would want to carry. Are there other feed stores, tack shops, Tractor Supply in your area that can offer lower prices. If you have other tack shops within say 50 miles, you might look to offer things they don’t have. If stocking expensive breeches, riding boots, tack, make sure you have a market willing to spend the $$; otherwise, you might have a lot of riders coming in to try things on and then shopping Ebay to find them cheaper. Maybe consider offering a large consignment section for saddles, boots, clothes, no money invested in inventory for you and lower prices for buyers. If there are other feed stores in the area, I’m not sure carrying feed would be worth it. My feed store at least claims he doesn’t make that much on feed, he has to order enough to make a load which means he sometimes has inventory that sits longer than it should. It takes up a lot of room, so you will need a large enough storage area that is pest and weather proof.

A completely non-scientific survey of my recent brick-and-mortar purchases: a new helmet, fly spray, leather cleaner, tack sponges, bell boots to replace the the ones that tore, new laces for my paddock boots, yet another sweat scraper (where do they all go?), thrush treatment, ointment for little scrapes and the impulse buys - treats and a little razor thingy to clean up some scruffy long hairs under the chin (his, not mine!). I will probably use the local tack store when I get new technical schooling shirts and new tall boots.

Here are the three items I always “need” urgently and purchase locally.

RWR Hairnets.


Bell boots - I like the $11 Dover ones. Similar to more expensive Italian ones, but last just as long at 1/2 or 1/3 the price.

Helmets. I have a large, oval, head so am hard to fit. Unique items such as a high quality bridle with a little bling that fits my Irish Draught and that is not carried at Dover.

You really need to assess your local market. Our local tack shop used to cater to pony clubbers. Then, two of the pony clubs lost use of the lesson facilities that they used, so the pony clubs folded. Now, the local tack shop caters to hunter kids and ponies, as they are the ones who are still in the area and spending money.

Try to be involved in the community. Sponsor vet lectures, nutrition talks,local politician talks, and other activities at your store. Our local tack shop runs the hunter shows at the nearby park.

I think regardless of what your market wants to see you have, is to stress that you will beat any online price. A lot of people go to their local tack shop to figure out what they want and then go on line to find the best price. I can say from personal experience that I feel bad going back to my local tack shop and asking for the low price I found online b/c they said once to me in passing that they will match price but it’s not stated anywhere. Make it a company policy that your customers are aware of this policy as something that you feel is every-day business and they will come back to you to buy the product.

Also, stock things that they will run out of like fly spray and treats and hoof oil, etc. Not so much tack.

I’ve just seen tack shops come and go in an area with lots of horses. Online is killing the local merchant in every market.

Good luck!

What I would like to see in any tack shop is a book rental library. People can donate used horse care or training books and customers can borrow them. Oh, and videos too.

How about your place as a dropoff/pickup location for a blanket cleaning service?

Agree with Pony Baloney about blanket cleaning or drop off. Our local shop has a washer/dryer on site and someone who picks up repairs. Usually if I drop off or pick up blankets I will buy something from the store, even if just treats or saddle soap.

Clothing is something I will definitely buy from a store vs online, so I can try on for sizing.

I think the most important thing that keeps my buying from a shop rather than online though, is that I LIKE and TRUST the store owner. I like that she backs up her products, gives my clients good and relevant advice, and will special order things for me within a reasonable time frame. She is a rider herself, and asks her clients regularly what they would like to see in her store.

Horse treats ~ Cat treats ~ Dog Treats ~ Rider Treats !

treats ~ horse, cat, dog, rider treats !

  • one stop shopping … ( I hate the grocery store !:lol:

  • carrots, tuna yummies, milk bones and red licorice ! :winkgrin:

Things one would need for showing, including but not limited to:

White saddle pads, dressage and AP

Stock ties

Lightweight summer shirts

Braiding supplies

Dry shampoo

Eventing armbands (not everyone is jumping on the bracelet bandwagon)

As far as bathing supplies, there’s a great new line of products called EquiFuse that is fantastic. As a matter of fact, I like their shine serum so much I use it on my hair! :lol:

Thank you!

Thanks you everyone for the replies! I’m learning a lot about what people will expect, please keep the responses coming.

I agree with price matching, and I think we can, if we eliminate price matching on closeouts.

I do have a couple of questions though. . . What about tack trunks and wooden totes? Are those something you would rather see in person and purchase in store rather than paying a high shipping charge? As far as I know, SmartPak is the only place that doesn’t charge a fortune to ship trunks, but it is usually a 4-6 week wait.

Also, what gift/home decor items are you likely to purchase? I’m not much into a horsey home decor, but tasteful picture frames catch my eye. . . Is there anything else you guys suggest?

Lastly, the recommendation of a lending library is great! I definitely think we should do it! I just have to figure out how to get people to bring things back! Maybe a discount if they return the book within 2 weeks?

Agree some selection of anything that needs to really fit properly. I hate ordering helmets online because my head is funny shaped, but last time I went to a tack store they really only had two lines and one of those was one of the $$$ hunter fashionable ones, and I am not spending that kind of cash on a schooling helmet. I appreciate that each line has a lot of models and stores only have so much space and money to invest in inventory, but if I wasn’t in dire urgent need of a helmet RIGHT NOW THIS SECOND I’d be perfectly happy to order a particular model through the store as long as I could try on something that fit comparably in store first. (Like a different color or shell design.)

Also, I know I linger longer in stores that have a nifty gift items section - cards, jewelry, household stuff, photo heavy books, calendars. Depending on your area you might be able to further stock that sort of section with “gift sets” of useful things bundled together that someone might grab as a gift, particularly around the holidays. (I’m thinking something like boot polish packed with a brush and some sponges in a nice little bag, nothing that ties up a lot of inventory or takes a lot of floor space to display. The kind of thing someone might see and almost impulse buy as a gift for someone at their barn, or a trainer, etc. Or show survival kits that have a spare hairnet, shoe shine cloth, etc.)

You can also flesh out that area and make yourself stand out by reaching out to local crafters and artisans who might make things that appeal - someone who makes bath products for example might be willing to make a custom after-the-barn blend and as long as it isn’t too expensive that is another thing people will impulse buy for themselves or as a gift. Plus people like the local connection.

Having a kids gifts section is good, too. (Oh, and if you’re near me, have some kid stuff that isn’t explicitly girly. Took friends kiddo to the store to get a helmet before we went trail riding this summer, and he was really bummed that there wasn’t much for him. I know boys are unusual, but I don’t think girls want everything to be pink and purple and sparkly either. Variety!)

Above all, though, what makes a difference to me is good organization. I hate stores of any kind where I can’t find a darn thing and you have to wait for help. I am willing to ask for help if I need an odd thing or am not spotting what I am looking for, but if I can’t find what I’m looking for I also can’t really browse - so they completely lose out on getting extra purchases from me because I just don’t bother looking. (I also knit, and there is a local store that used to be very close to me where I just stopped going because it was poorly organized. They might have really nice stuff, but I couldn’t tell!)

ETA: With horse housewares stuff, I personally like things where you don’t have to feel like your entire house has to be English Country Manor or Western Dude Ranch for things to fit in. So nicely done bookends and picture frames you can sneak in on a bookshelf or desk for a horsey touch without being over the top, I saw a pencil cup once that was gorgeous that I’m still sad I didn’t buy. What else… If people in your area use kitchen tea towels (seems to be regional) then that is one area where I will buy sillier horsey stuff because the towel gets swapped out often enough for a different one anyway when I put out a clean one, so if I have one in the kitchen for a day or so that screams HORSES!!! I just smile when I see it. (Whereas with a whole room thing I start feeling overwhelmed.)

Unrelated, but having just lost a dog - if you are willing to display some examples of horsehair or other “memory” items and work with the artists who make them to help customers order, I would probably like that. Just having someone to guide me through the ordering process and make sure I haven’t misspelled the mailing address or anything else silly would be worth paying a bit extra, to me, since it is all so stressful. (And if sending hair you worry about it getting lost, etc. having another pair of eyes make sure you got everything filled out right and sealed the package would help, I think?) (though you would have to make sure it didn’t come back on you if the mail service did mess up.)