Friday, June 22, 2007

..more blessed to give than to receive: Horse Charities

You see them on you local tack store bulletin board, you hear about them on your local country station, and you see them on the Internet. There are many horse lovers across this nation, but strikingly there are also many neglected horses across this nation as well. Some big hearted Americans have addressed this problem and are sacrificing much personal time and resources in caring for abandoned and neglected horses.

Dale (owner of The Saddle Shop in Bremen, IN and partner with me in every year makes it a point to help support a local rescue. That is great for his local store, but we too have a national website and thus a call to action. We have instituted a "Give 5% to Charities" program at Essentially, you the customer get to direct which charity the 5% of your online purchase will receive the 5% donation. We have a list of accepted horse charities and welcome many more to sign up. But, don't let a lack of purchasing from us prevent you from giving to local equine rescue programs. Please find a rescue close to you and see if they have a need that you could meet. After all, it is more blessed to give than to receive.


Thursday, June 7, 2007

Know your enemy... er..competition. Wait make that manufacturer.

I love to sell saddles. I've been blessed to not only be successful in selling saddles, but to have a business partner who has the same christian faith as me. There are many discouragements in this business, which I'll get to later, but to have my father-in-law as a business partner has been a great blessing and encouragement.

Dale and I have taken many actions to be sure that we know as much about saddles as we can, and that we stock those saddles in our store. We want to be able present the best saddle for any one of the many situations our customers are in. As of today, we have 462 saddles in our warehouses. In selling saddles, we are very careful to be respectful of our competition. We feel that though they are competition, it is our job to be the best at what we do, regardless of what our competitors do. In other words, we do not bash or talk down our competition. We feel it is rather unseemly.

So we are baffled by not our competition from another retail store, but the competition from one of our manufacturers. For brevity sake, we will call our un-named manufacturer/competition as Company A. Among other manufacturers, we happened to be Company A's top dealer in 2006. That is, we sold more of their merchandise than any other single store in 2006. We are continuing to have very strong sales in 2007 for Company A. In the past week or two, Company A started selling saddles directly from their website. It is generally a bad idea for a company to start competing with their dealers, but this is what Company A has started doing. But, they weren't satisfied with a fair, although very odd, competition in selling their saddles to the customer, Company A decided on their website to take a little swipe at their online dealers.

In essence Company A is saying "Don't waste your time with our dealers that have an online store." HorseSaddleShop alone has 96 of Company A's saddles in stock. Hey, Company A, I have over $100,000 of your products in my inventory and you are telling customers to not buy from me!?! It is not just HorseSaddleShop but also the other fine retail stores of Teskey's, Pards, Rod's, Country Supply, State Line Tack, Stage Coach West, FM Brown, Holtz Saddle Co., Outfitters Supply and others.

It appears that Company A is not performing so well these past few years, and rather than attack the problem they have decided to attack their retailers. You may ask, "What is Company A's problem?" Well, when I visit the Internet Archive of HorseSaddleShop for January of 2004 one of Company A's saddle that sold for $1,162.50 now has to be sold for $1,499.00. That is a 29% price increase in a short 3 years. I believe inflation has only risen 9% in the same amount of time. That means Company A has increased prices 21% over inflation adjustments.

I don't know how this is all going to pan out, but I do hope that Company A will start putting more effort in manufacturing so that we retailers can put more effort is selling their saddles. As it is, we continue to sell their product, but it does leave a nasty taste in our mouth, knowing our manufacturer would rather make the sale that the retailer. As I said, it is an encouragement to work with Dale as we remind one another that there is a God that not only knows, but gives me all that I need, whether pleasant or painful.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Saddle pads are imortant too.

I gleam a good deal of information from equine related magazines. our forums though, have been my greatest source of reliable and beneficial information. Interaction with our customer, giving and receiving knowledge, troubleshooting fitting problems and issues, has also been an excellent generator of useful knowledge.

An obvious fact is that the saddle tree dimensions are important factors in getting a good fitting saddle. Similarly, finding the right pad is also very important in obtaining your goal of having a comfortable saddle fit. Just as there are different types and sizes of saddles, there too are different types and sizes of saddle pads. A quote from trailBLAZER magazine May 2007 issue states “Contour saddle pads are designed for the horse with a slight dip in their back or those with more prominent withers. The normal or straight saddle pad is used on horses with a normal conformation….” ironically I mentioned the exact thing when I explained the different applications for different saddle pads. Throughout this article I found the author and I, not only have the exact same thoughts but we also expressed them with the same words. Although, I expressed mine before she expressed hers.

I do recommend a study on which saddle pad would be best for your horse. It is an important factor in getting your horse the comfortable saddle fit. You can spend your money to purchase trailBLAZER magazine with the insightful article on the different saddle pads, or you can go to the non-cited source at