When you hear summer, what do you think about? Does lake days, vacationing, visiting the beach, or relaxing frolic through your mind? Since we were children summer has always been the time that are brains were put to rest and relaxation and play time was about to begin. Now, let’s get back to reality as this is not the case for Slone Saddles! Slone Saddles’ summers are, without a doubt, the most hectic time of the year, but it is what we live for. From preparing for nationals to taking and processing around 400 orders, it can make your brain race ninety to nothing every day of the week!
A big part of our summer fun is due to being a sponsor for the National Junior High and High School Rodeo Association. This means that we go out of state twice a summer to go take over 400 saddle orders from contestants. Talk about busy, and as crazy as it might sound, taking the orders is only a small part of our summer.
Now let us take it back to the very beginning where all of the organized and sometimes unorganized chaos begins. When at Nationals we have a booth for which we set our entire stock (ready to sale) saddles up in along with all of our accessories and tack. Of course, we do not just magically appear at the finals with a loaded trailer. This process takes a lot of planning. It all starts around three weeks before we even begin the road trip to our destination for the Junior High Finals in June. To start, every stock saddle is taken out of our shop one by one to be loaded up in the trailer until there is not one left in the lobby. It seems as though our trailer is like Santa’s list on steroids as we check it once and check it twice, and continue to check it and check it to make sure we have everything we need. Once the trailer is completely loaded, there is hardly any room to walk it is packed so tight! So, while the guys are loading the trailer the girls are in the front office printing paper work and sales orders on saddles like you would not believe!
When working in the office it is amusing to see customers’ faces when they walk in and see that a saddle shop has no saddles to be viewed! At first they are surprised and then a look of sadness and worry comes across their face as they think we are closing down! Of course we reassure them that we are not closing and tell them the whole story about going to nationals.
After everything is loaded and paper work is complete, it is finally time for Tod and Lacy to get into the vehicle and drive all the way to the host state for the National Junior High Finals Rodeo. Finally, everything is done and the chaos is over, right? WRONG! It seems as though just as soon as we send them off on their journey the phones ring like crazy with saddle order request or just Tod checking in to say hello!
When Tod and Lacy make it to Nationals they are immediately busy unloading the trailer and setting up the booth. Just as soon as they catch their breath it is time for them to fit horses, sell products, and take saddle orders. With orders being taken, this means that our home base in Cuero, Texas, is working to create quotes for those orders to get them sent back to the customer. It is all hands on deck around here! Soon enough the Junior High Nationals are over, the trailer is repacked with everything that was not sold, and Tod and Lacy make their way back to Cuero with around 100 orders to be processed.
Now that the National Junior High Finals are over we can finally rest, right? Wrong again! Not only are orders being processed from the Junior High Nationals, but preparation begins for the High School Finals. Thankfully, we still have the trailer loaded from the previous finals, so not much work has to be done there except to load the trailer with any of our new stock saddles. Not too much time passes before we are sending Tod off to the high school finals, and all of the fun starts again!
Throughout the craze, everyone manages to make it to the National High School Finals Rodeo. Whether it is by flight, driving, technology or spirit the destination is reached. For the people in the business that are not able to be there physically, they remote in to help out with writing up quotes for the contestants’ saddles. Around 300 orders are taken at nationals. Yes, you read that correctly, that’s 3-0-0. This means that the 4 people who are working the booth will be taking 15 orders daily for the 5 days that we take orders. It is all hands on deck!
However, with work does come some play as a bit of pranking takes place during nationals between our booth and the Hyo Silver booth. This year we reintroduced and spiffed up our mannequin friend, Fred, to our scheming neighbors. We gave Fred a makeover by decking him out with a new cap, fancy belt buckle and necklace, and a stylish shirt, making him look very realistic. When no one was watching we sneaked Fred into Sharon’s, of Hyo Silver, passenger seat of her car. You can imagine what happened next. When Sharon went to her car she definitely was not expecting a human figure to already be there, so it is needless to say Fred scared her good! The best part is that she was not scared once, but twice by Fred as she forgot he was in her seat when she went to her car the next morning! Double whammy! We have had our fun this year, but now we wait with anticipation to see what Sharon has planned for us next year.
So here we are, we have conquered the Junior High and High School Finals amongst taking around 400 orders! Hip hip hooray! So now, we are FINALLY done, right? Wrong again! With 400 quotes come 400 orders to process and sort. Slone saddles might be done traveling for the summer, but that does not mean that we are done working! Additionally, going up to nationals with a packed trailer means that once we return home the trailer has to be unpacked just the way it was loaded- one saddle at a time.
Even though it can get crazy during the summer, we at Slone Saddles are always willing to help in whatever way possible. As hectic as it might get, our amazing staff makes it all possible, and our customers make it all worth it. It goes without saying that if it were not for our customers Slone Saddles would not be where it is today. Therefore, we thank all of our customers for loving our products as much as we do and bringing some crazy fun to our summers!