While most of the world is focused on back to school purchases right now, horsey folk are more concerned with tack buying for the fast approaching fall show season.
Yesterday, one of my friends was talking about a recent shopping trip to the Thoroughbred Training Center in Davie County (affectionately referred to as TTC by the horsey set). During the course of the conversation, she said that TTC was the only place to buy English tack that is less than a two-hour drive and we all need to give them some business or some day they might not be there.
That was a stunning new spin on something we hear all the time. Most of the “Shop Local” pleas are pitched toward helping the common good. You’ve heard the drill. Locally owned businesses put more of the money spent there back into the local economy than chain stores or online purchases. A vibrant downtown of unique, locally owned businesses will draw tourists and out of towners to drop cash into the local economy. Those things are all true but what no one says is that those businesses provide a service that the internet and chain stores do not.
One doesn’t need an altruistic reason to shop local; there’s a perfectly good selfish reason. We need them like they need us.
In the case of TTC, one can walk in, see the goods in person, compare various features, try things on to find the correct size and decide on brand preferences with the assistance of a sales clerk who is an experienced rider. After TTC has provided this valuable service, it is certainly possible to walk out without spending a dime and then with your new found knowledge generously and freely provided by TTC, find a better deal online.
And if everybody does this as my friend pointed out, some day they’re going to go away and the only way to replace them is to drive for two hours each way or order and pay for a bunch of stuff and return everything that doesn’t work. Neither of course, is an ideal situation.
After my friend watched her shopping buddy try on every pair of riding breeches at TTC in preparation for a planned online shopping session as directed by her bargain obsessed husband, my friend suggested to her, “buy one pair. Hide them from your husband if you have to. Then when you need more, find your best deal online. You know what you want now.”
My friend’s method puts a value on the knowledge and service given by TTC. It is equal to the difference in price on that first pair of breeches and the online bargain missed. A great system, really. Except for the part about hiding them from her husband. A marriage counselor probably wouldn’t be on board with that.
We’re not just talking about tack here. In the last year, we’ve lost two restaurants downtown in Mount Airy, Trio and Pandowdys. In both cases, the owners cited personal reasons rather than lack of business for closing down but every time I was in either of those establishments, there were a lot more empty tables than occupied ones. It seems to me that if those businesses had had a whole bunch of black ink on the bottom line, they could have sold those restaurants rather than closing them down. And following my friend’s logic, they’d still be there for us.
It’s not that either Pandowdy or Trio were without fans. After announcing their imminent closings, both were sold out until the doors were locked for the last time. After Trio posted its closing notice, I had two lunches at the bar because they had no tables. That had never happened before. Rumor has it that Pandowdy had a line after their closing was announced. Not wanting to beat a dead horse but it has to be said; if we’d all been there a little more often before, maybe they’d still be with us.
Of the two restaurants, I preferred Trio. Perhaps I didn’t give Pandowdy enough of a chance and now it’s too late. That’s on me.
I did love Trio though. When you wanted a good meal well prepared with fresh ingredients, fine dining service, real cloth napkins, a decent wine list and a pretty room to eat in, Trio couldn’t be beaten in Mount Airy. And now that it’s gone, like my friend said, we’re the ones to suffer. There’s nothing to take its place.
As far as TTC, for now they seem to be going strong. And I’m proud to say that I bought my helmet, saddle, stirrups and leathers there and would’ve bought boots if they’d stocked my size. But I must confess that I bought breeches online. What can I say? They were on sale for 15 bucks.
Bill Colvard is lifestyles writer for the Mount Airy News and can be reached at 336-415-4699 or on Twitter @BillColvard.