If you are an experienced horse person, you may be able to turn your love of horses into a thriving business by opening a tack shop. Owning a tack shop can give you the ability to outfit your own horse for less, while also providing a steady income you can use to support your hobby. But whether you plan to operate your tack shop business part time or make it a full-time endeavour, it is important to get off to the right start.
Obtain the necessary business permits from your state and local government agencies. The licensing and permitting requirements will vary from place to place, so acquire the right permits in place before getting started. Some locations may also have specific requirements for horse related businesses, so be sure to check with your state's department of agriculture to see if any specific statutes apply to tack shop businesses.
Determine your niche. Chances are there are already a number of tack shops within driving distance of most of your customers, so to succeed you will need to differentiate yourself from those other shops. Focusing on a popular but underserved niche in your area can be a big help. For instance, if there are a lot of draft horses in your area, stocking a wide variety of draft horse saddles, bridles and other gear can give you a real leg up.
Build your initial inventory by buying tack at below-market prices. If you already have your tax identification number, you can seek out wholesalers of horse tack for some great deals. Another excellent alternative is to look for tack auctions in your area--these auctions can be excellent places to purchase high-quality tack in bulk at below-market prices. Going to local auctions can be an excellent way to build your inventory and get your tack shop up and running quickly.
Solicit consignments of quality used tack from local horse owners. Many horse people end up with lightly used tack they simply cannot use, and the ability to turn that unwanted equipment into cash can be very attractive. Many consignment tack shops will split the proceeds of such sales, with the owner of the tack shop taking a 25 per cent commission off of any sales.
Contact local riding clubs about setting up a mobile tack shop at the horse shows they run each year. Horse shows are excellent places to sell tack, since competitors often need to replace broken equipment or pick up supplies they forgot to bring from home. Horse shows also provide valuable advertising for your new tack shop and help you to build your business. You can place a stack of business cards and sales flyers on your trailer or other vehicle to spread the word about your new business.
Consider providing services as well as merchandise. For instance, your shop could set itself apart by offering laundry services for horse blankets, saddle pads and show clothes. You could also offer mending and repairs for those costly show clothes--something that many horse show riders are likely to need at some point.