More important than “things” is knowing your customer base. What is the average rider/parent willing to spend on breeches/jackets/boots? Around here, parents don’t want to pay a lot for their growing kids (we do not play in the big sandbox… there’s a local assn., but you have to travel to show rated). And so I have to carry a lot of price options to appease the new pony mom and the serious riders who DO travel.
Some vendors are really easy to deal with, and super nice. Others… not so much.
English Riding Supply has been a BIG part of my store. They do Ovation (have to have their Zocks!), Pessoa, Mountain Horse, romfh, Veredus, Centaur, Equi-Star (which has great stuff for lower prices), and some other small brands.
If you want to cater to kids and have a fun shop, try to get with Intrepid International. I don’t like much of their leatherwork, but I really like their fun stuff… Breyer, colouring books, decals, key chains, mugs, etc. Plus, they do Thinline.
Tall boots are hard. Very hard. There are so many size combinations, and to have them all in stock, you have to have a lot of disposable money. They can sit on the shelves (again, depends on your area). I’ve done Ariat, Mountain Horse, Tredstep, Grand Prix, and Ovation. Some have done better than others.
I’ve done blanket repair and saddle pad washing… I send stuff off to an engraver, and do not do on-site embroidery (very expensive). The other tack shop (45min away) does on-site engraving, but they do not turn out as nice as the stuff I order in. I guess it’s instant gratification vs. better quality. I do consignment, which is a little hit-and-miss, but doing better as the area develops.
I wish I could carry more high-end brands, but the expensive stuff just doesn’t sell here. If I could, I would have more Pikeur, and get Tailored Sportsman and Horseware Ireland (I might try to get them at market). I’d also like to get Neue Schule, because I love their bits. But what I love isn’t necessarily what sells.
Sometimes you just have to take the plunge and “play” with certain brands. See what sells, and what sits. It sounds like you’re in a better area than I am, so hopefully you will have more success.
I try to have brands the other tack shop doesn’t have… they were a real thorn in the side of the former owner, and have actually tried (on multiple occasions) to persuade vendors to not work with her. It’s actually worked, in some cases.