Friday, December 12, 2008

an early gift

Today my daughter and I were making a run to the feed store to stock up on beet pulp pellets, whole oats, whole flax seed, and rice bran. We stopped by the local tack shop first to get a couple of Pony Club Christmas party gifts and had fun looking and catching up with the store owner, who I know and am quite grateful to for having this marvelous store in our small town.

She loves horses and rides, and had a very successful corporate career. She gave it up to open this shop, and I imagine took something of a risk to do so. But she has said on more than one occasion that she is happy, and she has done a great job meeting community needs with the items she offers.

We do try to shop there as much as we can. Sometimes I have to order online to keep within my budget, but we have bought Charles Owen helmets and vests there because of the expert, certified fitting they offer, and I often go there first to see if what I need is available and priced within my budget. The store staff are wonderfully knowledgeable and helpful. In the past month they saved me buying a new helmet by fitting my son's barely worn one to my daughter's head.

When I was casting about for solutions to Keil Bay's saddle pad dilemma they urged me NOT to buy the expensive Mattes fleece pad, but to get the saddle fitter over first to make sure it wasn't a fit issue. (it was)

They often have just the thing I need: a quarter blanket for the pony, a grazing muzzle, the lick ball that kept Rafer Johnson occupied during some long afternoons in his stall.

They sponsor workshops and send out a truly useful email each month with notification of sales, as well as free local classifieds for customers. When hay was scarce, they sent out info about good, reliable hay sources.

They always send me home with the assurance that if my purchase doesn't work, I can bring it back. This includes bits, blankets, clothing, everything. I so appreciate them.

So today I went in feeling happy to give them some business, and mentioned that I was looking for a specific bit for Keil Bay's stocking. They had the exact bit, but it was $125. and while ideally it WAS the exact one I wanted, I had hoped to find the cheaper version. (more like $40.)

As the owner was looking through catalogs to see if she could find one of the less expensive ones, she suddenly stopped. "How much were you thinking of spending?" she asked.

When I told her, she smiled. "You know what? You're a wonderful customer. I'm going to give this one to you for that price."

I resisted but she insisted. I was close to tears. It was such a kind and lovely gesture, particularly in the economic times we're experiencing. But she lit up when she made the offer, I lit up when I accepted it, and sometimes, many times, this is the kind of thing that I believe changes the energy in our world, not all at once, but bit by bit, like those little snowflakes in snow globes, one and then a flurry.

I plan to find a way to pass this generosity on and keep the glittering flakes flying. If we all do just one really nice thing we wouldn't have otherwise done, just think how that lights up the world.


Grey Horse Matters said...

I think this is a wonderfully touching Christmas story. How generous of the store owner to make this offer. You're right if all do just one really nice thing for someone we normally wouldn't have it passes the light to others. Pay it forward.

Unknown said...

Don't ya just love people sometimes? And that's one of the benefits of life in a small town, that people notice each other, and care. Maybe it's true in big cities too but I wouldn't know, and I doubt it. My mechanic gave me a nice discount on a brake job recently, and it made me glad I didn't stop at some corporate chain shop, closer to work.

billie said...

Arlene, it is so much easier to put into action one thing for ourselves than to focus on the "big" picture. I think the power is within us. :)

billie said...

Kyle, good to see you here again, and I agree, it's easier to notice in the smaller towns, but I do hope some of this is happening in bigger cities too.

Hope your holidays are wonderful. I need to come visit your blog.

Victoria Cummings said...

A good tack store is hard to find, so you're really lucky to have one nearby. That's a great story - and the owner is a smart retailer since now she has your loyalty. Being in retail right now is very challenging. Your tree is beautiful!

billie said...

Part of the beauty of the gift she made was that she already has our customer loyalty, and she knows it. There are two more wonderful tack shops w/in a half-hour or so, but she is much closer by and she has made a lot of effort to make her store both useful to horse owners and unique from the other two stores.

And she will special order ANYthing.

Our pet food store has just gone out of business, sadly. We tried to buy everything pet-related we could there in hopes that it would help, but I guess the overhead was too high.

Fortunately, one of our two local feed stores starting carrying the cat food.

The thing I love about this small town is that the various stores, instead of competing, tend to find their own specialty niches and can stay in business as a result.

jme said...

you are so lucky! not only for the amazing and generous gift, but to have a truly knowledgeable resource in your local tack store. she sounds like a great person who really cares about what she does, and that is all too rare. i wish we had a great shop like that here :-)

billie said...

jme, she is wonderful - she knows a lot but she is also quick to say that she is not a long-time horse-owner and so she hires staff who fill those gaps. Every now and then I show up when all of the store staff are there, and it's like a kaleidoscope of good energy and info.

We have three good (and different) tack shops w/in easy driving distance, and 4 amazing independent bookstores, and I hope all of them stick out these tough retail times.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

This is such a beautiful experience you shared, Billie. It totally tuched my heart.

We have a very similar tack store about 2 miles from us. I adore the shop owners and they are always so helpful and know what brands and items I buy on a regular basis, and often have them ready without me even asking, as soon as they see my truck pull up.

Unfortunately, it's a very small store and their selection is very slim and almost everything has to be special ordered. And they tend to be more expensive.

We just got a new Super Walmart this year, and they've started to carry livestock feed and much less than the local feed stores charge.

I didn't want to do it, but I've been buying my chicken feed, if it's not sold out, at Walmart because it's $6.00 cheaper than the feed store. That's huge difference in price. And I wish it didn't matter, but it does.

I do worry about our local feed stores now, because we have 5 feed stores, all within 10 miles of our house, and the competition is now fierce.

I'll still support them as much as I can with our patronage, because nothing can compare to that personal, friendly and helpful experience received from our local small stores.

Congratulations on your special 'holiday gift'.

New Mexico

billie said...

Lisa, I know what you mean about saving money. I would ask the tack shop/feed store if they might match the price at Walmart b/c you'd rather buy it from them but need to stay on a budget.

Our local feed store (the one we buy most of our feed at) generally offers discounts on things if you buy in bulk, and they will sometimes match a price for me if I let them know.

Anonymous said...

That was a lovely story. The tack shop owner at the store I shop at is much the same - maybe it comes with the territory? Bless them all, every one.

billie said...

I don't know, coy, but maybe. I know one year we had a sudden and unexpected very cold week with snow and ice, and I needed horse and pony blankets FAST. The tack shop stayed open late even in that weather so I could get over there and get blanketed up for 3, none of whom I'd measured yet, and they made sure I left with blankets that would work.