Frannie Tack celebrates 30 yearsWritten by Saige
Frannie – Pat Campbell and daughter-in-law LuAnn intended to just repair horse blankets and maybe fix some saddles when they started the Frannie Tack Shop.
“This was a little old garage,” says LuAnn. “And from there it went on and grew. We sell everything horse-related now.”
“It was 1981 when we started,” says Pat. “Lu and I were going to make chaps and chinks and repair horse blankets.”
Pat explaines that when LuAnn and her son Rick moved to Frannie, the two of them needed a hobby. Frannie Tack Shop wasn’t planned to be the successful business it is today.
Pat moved from Michigan to Frannie nearly 40 years ago with her family, and LuAnn lived just north on a ranch in Warren where she had grown up. They started in the family business to give themselves something to do.
“Everybody here is self-taught. No one has done any major schooling for leatherwork or anything,” says LuAnn. “We work to keep quality items and cater to the working people in the area.”
From the original building, Frannie Tack has added on to the store several times, expanding to accommodate new merchandise. They started out working seven days a week from nine to nine, and have since cut down hours to eight to six Monday through Saturday.
“We have to have some time off,” says LuAnn. “We’d love to be able to stay open, but we’d go crazy.”
The group also ventured to county fair and trade shows, but has since decided the business is much more effective based in Frannie.
Rick now works primarily repairing saddles and doing the leatherwork at Frannie Tack Shop, along with working on the family’s cattle operation and farmland.
“Rick is also our test dummy,” say LuAnn. “He tests out most of the products we sell. If we get something new, Rick will check it out. Until we use the product, we really don’t know how it will work.”
LuAnn and Pat perform most of the day-to-day tasks that go along with running the store, and they say the store is a “destination” to which people come for all their horse needs.
The store’s slogan, “The Best Little Horse House in the West,” comes from their far-reaching clientele and good reputation.
“Obviously we aren’t a drop-in place. When people come here, they come with a purpose in mind, and that’s why we carry the inventory we do,” says LuAnn, gesturing to the packed storefront.
LuAnn and Pat emphasize that they always keep a full store, stocked with as much inventory as they can to ensure they have a wide selection for customers.
“A lot of guys want to touch it, feel it and then they pay for it and take it home,” says LuAnn. “So we keep a full inventory and don’t have an online store.”
The stocked store features useful items that working cowboys utilize, and it stays away from the more “fad” items that sweep the market from time to time.
Because of the quality items and the people they draw to Frannie, LuAnn says they have built an international clientele, many of whom have become friends through the years. Their merchandise has been shipped all over the world, as far as Australia and Ireland.
“We get a lot of people in here. Just the other day we had people from Kentucky, Australia, Michigan and Pennyslvania,” says LuAnn.
Pat also says, “We had some people drive down from Glasgow, Mont. just to get a saddle. They brought their horse and made sure they had the right saddle.”
The tack shop encourages buyers to bring their horse when saddle shopping to ensure a correct fit and a useable product. Once a new saddle leaves the store, it isn’t new any more, adds LuAnn.
Customers of the Frannie Tack Shop vary from the working cowboy to guest ranches and visitors.
“We have one guest ranch for which we stay open late in the spring,” says LuAnn. “We also draw some people from Cody and people traveling to Billings. As Rick says, ‘On this side of the mountain, there are only two roads going north, and we’re one of them.’”
LuAnn, Rick and Pat always try to keep their customers happy and supplied with quality items.
“We never try to sell somebody something they don’t really need,” says LuAnn. “We’ve had people come in and think they need a new saddle because their existing one doesn’t fit, but Rick can fit them with a pad for much cheaper. We are very low pressure, and we want the customers to be happy.”
For the years to come, LuAnn says, “There will be no more add-ons. It takes a lot of time, and we keep busy. We’ll just keep on keeping on, and we’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing for as long as we can.”
As for their own line of saddles, LuAnn also says that is something they have always thought about.
“That’s the ultimate goal, but I don’t know how close we are to accomplishing it,” she adds. “We are very busy and don’t have a lot of spare time.”
The Frannie Tack Shop will continue to emphasize quality and sending happy customers home.
“We’ve seen a lot of changes through the years,” says Pat. “People are different, and companies are different. Business is a lot tougher to do than it was years ago.”