The Tack Shop in Greenville, S.C., is preparing to celebrate an incredible 50 years in business.
“I never expected to be here all these years later. It does mean a lot,” said Glyn Sandzen, owner of The Tack Shop. “We’ve had four different locations, three major economic hurdles with the recessions, and we’re still standing. We’ve had over 200 employees have come through here over the years and most of them are still in touch. It’s been a happy life.”
Glyn Sandzen’s mother, Mary Sandzen, first opened the business at Cleveland Park Stables in 1967 with a few thousand dollars worth of inventory in cardboard boxes.
“I think she was just trying to make some money,” Glyn said of her mother who had grown up in a well-to-do family and was involved in horses her whole life. “But after she and my father separated, she had to figure out what to do.”
Glyn’s mother continued to run and grow the business for 12 years, and opened the first indoor equestrian facility in South Carolina called the Carolina Horse Park. Then, Glyn began to take on a portion of her mother’s business.
And in the years that followed, the business weathered moves, changes, and challenges.
“First I just took over a portion [of the business] and had a shop called The Pony Set. We had it open during horse shows,” Glyn recalled. “I took the rest over in 1979 or ‘80 and my mom died in ‘95. I ran the barn [at the Carolina Horse Park] and the tack shop until ‘98 when we sold the place. That was in Greer, S.C.
“Then we moved back to Greenville and went downtown. We were there for about nine years in a space that had three levels like a split level home. Then we moved from there and bought the building we’re currently in 2006.”
With decades in the business, Glyn has learned almost every lesson there is to learn as a small business owner.
“You really have to be able to step back and take a 35,000 foot view of your business. You can’t fall in love with your merchandise. Over time, I’ve learned to treat it more like a business,” she said. “I’m very much aware of the bottom line and it took me a while to do that, because I was emotional for a while with it being my mom’s business.”
Experience and time help, but Glyn became the consummate businesswoman she is today because she had to.
“When my mother was still alive, I maybe didn’t take the business as seriously as I could have. When she died, I started doing some serious training on marketing, inventory control, how to hire and fire and train employees, and putting procedures in place. So really, I’ve grown as a businesswoman out of necessity.”
In an age where small businesses are fighting to stay afloat in the face of big conglomerates and online sales, The Tack Shop, which boasts a huge selection of show clothes to equipment to gifts for all english riders, offers customers an experience that can’t be found anywhere else.
“Being in a barn is so soothing to people. People that have any kind of stress, or a physical or emotional issue, the barn is a soothing environment and we try to recreate that here. It’s a really pretty store, and it’s warm and inviting.”
The store is, as Glyn says, “as green a building as it can be without having a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.” All of the stains and pains are odor-free and not harmful to shoppers’ health, there are sun tubes for light, the air is moved by ceiling fans, and the roof is white so it reflects the sun to keep the store cool in the hot summers.
“It’s all about in store experience for our customers. It’s about service and the energy in the room. People come in and hang out talking to each other in the store, and I find that to be a big compliment. They just want to be here.”
Glyn and her mother have created an important fixture in their equestrian community, and the impact shows.
“I still have customers that are second or third generation that shopped with my mom all those years ago,” Glyn said. “It’s nice that they remember.”
Learn more about The Tack Shop at http://www.thetackshop.biz/
The American Equestrian Trade Association’s mission is to unite and advance the community of equine trade businesses by delivering education, trade shows and services designed to sustain, support and grow a strong equestrian industry marketplace. Find out more at www.aeta.us.