Cowboy Loft owners Tim and Donna Prior have been operating Brussels Agri Services, a feed and farm supply business specializing in fencing, since 1997 and in 2003 had a vision for a new venture to repurpose an old auction ring behind their retail store. They were inspired by a store called Cowtown in Alberta that, in addition to pet supplies, feed and horse tack, also carried a line of Western clothing. After a couple of research visits, they opened their own version.
Shortly after it had opened, the BSE crisis hit the livestock industry in Canada and having another revenue stream was very helpful while the agriculture industry recovered.
The company also provided another bonus from the new venture, its primarily male customer base transformed to include a new female demographic.
As the Cowboy Loft grew, and its owners came to understand the new customer base, the retail offerings have expanded and diversified. While the jeans and Western wear take up most of the floor space in the expansive, two-storey retail area, candles, giftware and horse tack are prominently displayed throughout the store.
Trudy Ryan manages the store and has been with Cowboy Loft for over 16 years, beginning with what she had planned to be a part-time job. She clearly shares the Priors’ vision for the store and works hard to find the right blend of inventory for the customers.
The most popular item in the store is the line of cowboy boots, with an impressive array of styles for men, ladies, youth, kids and even infants. “Grandparents love to get them their first pair of cowboy boots, and they’re especially popular for photo shoots,” Trudy says of the tiny leather boots.
She points out that all of their boots are high quality, so they are extremely comfortable. She loves her boots and advises that “a comfortable boot will make your whole day go better!”
Tim says that first-time customers are often impressed with the variety of clothes, hats and giftware that are available. Some say that they hadn't known about the store, or “that they thought it was just for horse people”, which is definitely not the case, especially as country-themed decor remains in fashion.
All of their boots, jeans, clothing and hats come in a wide variety of sizes and styles, but if they don’t have it on-hand, Trudy says that they can easily custom order whatever you need.
They have an online store on their website if you just can’t make it in, but the stop in Brussels is definitely worth the trip.
42845 Newry Rd, Brussels. www.cowboyloft.com