After 32 years, Hitchin' Post Western Store is hanging up its spurs and putting out to market its little cowboy corner on Highway 50 East.
Co-owner Sonya Schuler said her store is Carson City's last custom-leather goods, saddle shop and retail store. She has four full-time employees.
"We've tried to keep the Western tradition alive, and it's just not there anymore," she said.
Carson City attracts recreational sports such as soccer and baseball tournaments, not horse shows and rodeos.
Schuler and her husband, Dave, purchased the business in 1980 from her mother, Elaine Smith. The couple will retire after shuttering the store in August. They plan to tour antique bit-and-spur and saddle shows. They will relax at their Old Washoe City home with their three horses.
Schuler, 66, said the closure can't be attributed just to the dwindling retail demand for cowboy hats and turquoise jewelry. The Internet has taken its toll on the Schulers' business.
"People come here to try out saddle sizes and then go buy them on the Internet," she said.
Customers who have seen the colored flags and liquidation sale sign outside the building at 3080 Highway 50 E. have come in to express their condolences, Schuler said. But often these are customers she only sees once or twice a year.
Pete Schuler, a saddle craftsman and Sonya Schuler's son, said he will start selling custom belts online, the way specialty retail sales seem to be flowing. During his career at the Hitchin' Post, he has done everything from replacing snaps on motorcycle vests to crafting leather briefcases. He probably won't be crafting saddles for retail sale anymore. He's cut back on taking repairs and orders.
"The high cost of overhead makes it hard for a person to make a living working with his hands," he said.
Schuler said she will likely sell the half-acre, which includes the 3,300-square-foot store. She's received a few offers from entrepreneurs who want to try their hand at operating a store.
It can sound easy, until you have the store and all the problems that come with it, Pete Schuler said.
• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.