In August 1991, The Bony Pony tack store in Mount Vernon opened its doors. Twenty-seven years later, those same doors finally closed for the last time. At the same time, the doors to their new location, which doubles the retail space the store used to occupy, opened. An event almost 20 years in the making, even something like COVID-19 could not stop owner Cherie Geerdes from fulfilling her dream.
“It just took that long to acquire the ground, get that paid off because I don’t like debt, and then start the preliminary work, which really took us almost three years to get that done, all the requirements, soil testing and that kind of stuff before we got to actually stary building,” Cherie says.
So the fact that her brand-new building, boosting 6,050-square-feet of retail space, was just two weeks away from completion when COVID-19 started, was just an unhappy occurrence. But it didn’t dampen Cherie’s or her team’s spirits. The Bony Pony has had an online retail presence for years, so even when they had to close, they continued to get orders through the website.
As for their brand-new building, they just had to wait. “We got everything put on hold for about six weeks,” she says. “So that was in March, so we finally got the building finished in June. And then we had to do our set-up, which took close to a month.”
Those who have shopped at The Bony Pony can understand why – the original store was packed to the brim with products, which Cherie and her team had to reorganize in the new space. “We did add a few new brands,” Cherie says. “Though we were so packed in that little store that by the time we spread out in the new store we didn’t have room for too many new brands.” The new space does allow for easier shopping for the customers. Cherie says they did not take COVID-19 or social distancing into account when they organized the new store. “We had our layout pretty much set and COVID-19 didn’t affect any of that,” she adds. “But our customers have been really good at keeping their distance.”
If you are looking for boots, jeans, tack or anything horse-care related, this is your store. “And you don’t have to have a horse to come into our store,” Cherie adds, saying the store sells work boots, jeans and weatherproof outdoor gear and caters to customers who love the western lifestyle as well as to all horsemen. With over 3,000 boots and 1,000 pairs of jeans, from all the top brands you know and love, they definitely have something for everyone.
And if you are a Breyer collector (or know someone who is!), you have to check out The Bony Pony. While you may see a few models at other tack stores, they carry every Breyer that is available to retail stores. “You either go big or go home with Breyer, because so many you can’t buy unless you are at a certain level as a dealer,” she explains. So, if you are looking for all the versions of their 70th anniversary horse, for example, you just might want to stop by. They have even received one of the rare chaser variants of this model. “The lady who got him is a long-time customer,” says Cherie. “She cried when she bought him.”
One of the things that they are really excited about is having a large, dedicated space for consignments. “We used to have consignments, then we flat ran out of room,” Cherie explains. Now, they have space for good quality, clean tack, including saddles, and show clothes.
And if you are not sure what you are looking for, whether its durable work jeans or your first show outfit for your first show, The Bony Pony offers exceptional customer service. “All of our people here know what they are selling, they are riders,” explains Cherie. “They know what things are supposed to look like, what you need, what you don’t need. Our attempt is to get the customer exactly what they need and to not over sell them or under sell them. That when they go out the door, especially when they are competing, they have the right equipment and they look good, it fits well, and the trainer won’t go, ‘Hello?! What’s that?’ So, we work really hard at that and everybody does a good job.”
Grand Opening Celebration
A bit later than originally planned; The Bony Pony celebrated their grand opening October 5-10. Cherie believes that at least 500 people came through their doors during the week, checking out the new store and entering to win their prize drawings. The Bony Pony has always drawn equestrians and Breyer collectors from all over, including people from Canada all the way down 1-5 South to Seattle. With the borders being closed, Canadian shoppers can no longer come to the store, but they can still shop online, which helps keep business going.
COVID-19 has changed her customer base a bit. Normally, they get a lot of people going to rodeos and concerts, but not this year. At the same time, horse shows were cancelled across the state (and country!). Recreational riders were still busy riding while everything was shut down, however. Perhaps even more so with more people off work. Now, several months later, horse shows are starting back up, but not locally. “People are having to travel a lot to Oregon and Idaho to show, though we did have a show in Monroe recently,” Cherie shares what her customers have been telling her.
While her customers and what they are up to may have changed a bit due to COVID-19, business has continued. “That’s been the hardest part, people are still riding, but the competitions are curtailed,” she says. “Plus, you don’t have any concerts or rodeos, all that kind of stuff that people like to dress for, so I am very blessed that we have continued to do okay without all that.”
As far as what the future holds, like most of us, Cherie isn’t making any major plans about anything, as we all wait and see what will happen with COVID-19. Until then, Cherie and her knowledgeable team are ready to help you, whether in store or online at The Bony Pony website.
The Bony Pony
2423 Old Hwy 99 S, Mount Vernon