Saddle shop - Jackson Hole tack, feed store relocates to larger spaceWritten by Joy Ufford
Jackson – As Jackson Hole has grown outward over the years, Flat Creek Saddle Shop has maintained the pace by growing along with it, moving into a new, larger location in June where everything is under one roof.
Only several blocks south of their last location, the move has made a huge difference for owners John and DeAnn Bauer, who bought the business from founder Scott Carter nine years ago after being partners with him for five.
“The old place – we moved there 20 years ago,” explains John Bauer, who started working for Carter at 19 as a winter employee. “In the meantime, two grocery stores were built past us to the south and with the traffic at the old place, it got really hard to get in and out. We couldn’t get trailers in there. Here, we have much better access and trailer parking. That was probably our biggest reason for moving here.”
Building the business
DeAnn says buying the business back then made sense after working there so long and enjoying their own horses.
“Our family is very horse-oriented, and we were very interested in keeping a quality tack shop in Jackson that could service the area,” she explains. “When the feed store closed and there was no place to buy feed in town, we were stuck, like everyone else, trying to find feed for our livestock.”
“It’s all in one location now,” John adds, opening the door between the new shop and the Purina storeroom. “Before we had a separate warehouse for the feed. Now we’re selling a lot more mineral to the ranches that are here.”
“We decided that feed and saddles went hand-in-hand, and it made sense for us to carry feed and then later panels, gates, feeders and other ranch-supply items,” DeAnn says. “Now if we don’t have it in stock we can order just about anything the customer would need. We keep pretty busy with that part of the business.”
Although this new shop isn’t a lot larger than the previous one, it is configured differently with more wall space. The Bauers let go of Carter’s collector saddles but still offer at least 200 saddles.
“Although we loved the old saddles, they didn’t fit modern horses,” DeAnn says. “We have always been known for our good selection of working saddles, and we needed to keep that intact. We try to keep our customer service first and foremost.”
John’s saddle-fitting talents got to be pretty well known, she adds, and people bring their horses from as far away as Utah and Colorado.
“John is really good at fitting those really difficult horses, and we have a large enough selection that the horses almost always leave with something that fits both the horse and rider,” she says. “I think I can count on one hand the horses he couldn’t find a saddle for.”
Tack and more
Flat Creek Saddle also continues to offer high-quality and handmade tack and accessories at affordable prices, all made in America.
One plus is being able to examine the gorgeous handiwork of two local saddle makers – Jason Nicholson and Brian Castagno – who specialize in custom orders and show their work at the shop.
After feeding with horse teams, guiding hunters and pack trips and having rodeo kids, John is knowledgeable about year-round horsemen's needs. Flat Creek Saddle is a popular “must stop” for ranchers, cowboys, hunters, outfitters, barrel racers, team ropers, 4-Hers and trail riders who visit with the Bauers, longtime employee Tammy Campbell and other customers.
“We have customers from all over the world,” DeAnn says. “They come back because we do have a great selection and are happy to do whatever it takes to make sure the customer always has what they need and it’s the right fit for them.”
The Bauers, including Jordan, 16, and Jesse, 22, have all worked in the store and maintain the friendly hospitality and family atmosphere that Carter started.
“It has been a family-run business since day one when Scott started it,” DeAnn says. “We know our customers, their kids, their horses and their tastes. The customers also know us, our kids and see us around town at the horse events. We are always bringing something to the rodeo, roping or barrel race that someone needs when they didn’t have time to come by the store or fixing something as they wait because they need it now and it broke.”
She adds, “People appreciate that extra mile we go to make sure it’s right.”
Wide customer base
John looks forward to seeing his customers as much as they do to visiting.
“We have a lot of people from Europe that come almost every year on vacation,” he says. “They have horses there, and stores don’t have much of a selection, so they come here and shop every year. We ship a lot of things pretty regularly.”
Although the website provides information, customers are encouraged to call, email or stop by the shop with questions for more personal service.
Since the beginning, the store has also been a place for people to gather.
“It always seems to be a great gathering place for people of all walks of life, from movie stars to vice presidents to the ranchers that just come to town one day a year,” DeAnn says. “It’s comfortable and people have a good time. There have been a lot of friendships and shenanigans within our walls – horses inside the store to dogs and kids running around, indoor barbecues, unofficial town meetings and beer after five most nights.”
She comments, “It’s old Jackson, honest and hardworking, and we like it that way.”