Small Business Spotlight: Cowboy Corner, Southaven

Keeping it in the family

Tacketts continue to maintain relationships with generations of customers

Charles Tackett’s father, George Tackett, opened a small saddle and leather repair shop in 1957 on Summer Avenue in Memphis. The shop remains in the family and in business today on Goodman Road in Southaven.

The elder Tackett grew up on farms in Savannah, Tenn., during a time when horses and mules provided the horsepower behind the plows that cultivated the crops.

His small, saddle repair shop evolved as customers complained that they were having trouble finding western wear.

“He starting carrying western wear and adding a little bit at a time,” Charles Tackett said. “But he still continued to build and repair equestrian equipment.”

In 1971, the elder Tackett moved the shop, called Lazy T Western Wear, to a 3,100-square-foot space in the basement of a shop in Southaven. Because the shop was in the corner of the basement, he renamed it Cowboy Corner.

In 1988, George Tackett decided to retire, and his son, Charles Tackett, a certified public accountant, purchased the business.

In Nov. 1999, Cowboy Corner moved to its current location on Goodman Road in Southaven after constructing a 16,000-square-foot building that suited the store’s needs.

Being in a business with such a history has enabled Charles Tackett and his wife, Teresa Tackett, to maintain longtime relationships with generations of customers.

“We’re serving some of our customers’ grandkids now,” Charles said. “It’s a real treat to have them come in and say, ‘I got my first pair of boots at Cowboy Corner,’ and now they bring their kids in for their first pair.

“We have been somewhat successful for 53 years, and you can’t do that without the loyalty of your customers.”

Because there are not many western wear stores in the area, Tackett said many of his customers drive from West Tennessee, Arkansas and North Mississippi.

“Of the customers who drive by our doors everyday, maybe one in five needs or desires something from us,” he said. “So that’s why we have all these old acquaintances who drive 100 to 150 miles and don’t come in on a regular basis. They maybe come in once or twice a year.”

As with traditional apparel stores, Tackett has seen fashion trends in western wear come and go.

It’s a lot like conventional fashion, you’ll have trends in western apparel go away and come back,” he said.

For instance, in 1957 all of the men’s and ladies’ shirts sold had pearl-type snaps and flaps over the pockets. In the 1990s, manufacturers shifted to shirts with buttons and button-down collars.

“They looked like any shirt you could get at a department store,” Tackett said. “…Now, that retro look from the ’50s is back. Snaps are back.”

While the store no longer repairs saddles, Tackett said he stocks about 70 to 80 saddles in the store at all times. But about 45 to 47 percent of sales are western boots.

“They’re the driving force behind the business,” he said, noting that popular brands are Justin, Lucchese, Tony Lama and Laredo.

Tackett said 20 percent of his customers are equestrians, while 80 percent wear his apparel and accessories as a lifestyle choice.

“For that 80 percent, it’s a lifestyle choice. They’re going to wear the belts, buckles and Wranglers, just as for others casual wear is Nikes, jeans and a T-shirt.”

Tackett attributes the longevity of the family business to customer service, loyal staff and customers and providing quality products at an affordable price.

“We’re a service business that just happens to sell product,” he said.

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