Happy memories, happy trails ahead
By Carole Robinson, Senior Staff Writer
The Cowboy Store owner Pat Dunn arranges boots during the first week of the "Store is Closing" sale. The store's last day is Nov. 30. Photo by Carole Robinson
For the past 20 years, The Cowboy Store has been the go-to spot in Williamson County for anything western, but the stagecoach has arrived and it’s time for storeowner Pat Dunn to hop on and head to other pastures.
|Pat and Wayne Dunn Submitted
“My parents are elderly and I want to spend more time with them, I have 28 beautiful horses on a hill in Franklin that I just wave at,” Dunn said, adding that she’s looking forward to spending more time in the barn and taking her horses to horse shows. “I want to get back on a horse.”
Although the store’s closing came as a surprise to most, Dunn said she has been thinking about it for almost two years.
“The timing was right. My lease is up Nov. 30,” she said. “I’ve been struggling to help my parents and I’m looking forward to spending time with my husband and getting my life back and not planning Christmas around store hours. I’m very excited about this and the opportunities I’ll have. We get to a certain point in life we want to do some things – if we don’t make changes we never will.”
Tired of having to go to Oklahoma or horse shows to buy true Western items and quality tack, the Dunns opened The Cowboy Store in 1995 in an 800 square foot space next to the current location on Royal Oaks Boulevard.
At that time, The Cowboy Store carried several lines of tack – saddles, bridles, reins, blankets and other riding equipment. As Williamson County changed from an agrarian/rural county to a more urban county, the clientele changed and merchandise changed. Western style furniture was added to the stock, then boots, clothing, home décor and gift items.
“People change and you can’t stay the same in retail, you’ve got to change,” Dunn said.
Today, there are fewer people with working cattle and horse farms wearing Wranglers everyday; there are fewer places to dance Western style dances, country music has changed so has Western clothing styles.
Adjusting to the changes, The Cowboy Store always managed to maintain that comfortable Old West ambience – the smell of leather, the cowhide covered chairs, the heavy wood furnishings, the collection of Western art including the 60-year old Frederic Remington museum quality bronze sculpture Coming Through the Rye that has been a part of the store for many years (it’s for sale), silver and turquoise jewelry, the décor and the warm welcome – gave it a feel of being in the middle of Fort Worth, Amarillo, Denver, Oklahoma City or Albuquerque.
They brought their passion to the business and the motto, “Where the pavement ends and the West begins,” certainly fit.
“We wanted people to feel like they’ve gone out west,” Dunn said.
That ambience did not go unnoticed and over the years the store has been used as a backdrop for television shows, movies, commercials and photo shoots. The Billy Ray Cyrus’ movie Like a Country Song, episodes of the television series Tuckerville about Tanya Tucker and her children, an episode of the MTV Reality show Made and photo shoots for Lucchese Boots and Wrangler jeans are just a few.
Since Dunn announced the store’s closing the outpouring of well wishes has touched her heart.
“The people are sad we are closing – that warms my heart that people are coming in to express their appreciation,” Dunn said. But, “We’re not going away. I’ll still be very much involved with the Rodeo and doing things in the community.”
And Dunn isn’t totally getting out of the retail business. The Cowboy Store is going mobile. Dunn is taking a mini Cowboy Store to corporate events and conventions, Boot Boutiques and small events, she said.
“I’d like to do eight to 10 a year so I’ll still have time to do other things.”
Everything in The Cowboy Store is on sale – including the pine display cases, the furniture, fixtures and the signed and numbered framed art and all the first rate merchandise.
“This is a good time to Christmas shop early – with all the good prices,” she said. “Each week the process will come down 10 percent until everything is gone – however, if you see something you want – don’t wait, it’ll be gone.”
Happy Trails to you, Pat – ‘till we meet again.
Posted on: 9/11/2013