Over 90 years, Bingo’s D&S Saddle Shop has survived several moves and multiple ownership changes.
But its latest challenge — one shared by many retailers — may be its greatest.
“Amazon is slapping us around pretty good,” says Diane Hanchey, who owns the tack store with her sister, Kim Parker. Would-be customers will come in, take photos of a product and its information, then go out to their car and order it online on their phone.
“You know what, all you have to do is ask me if I’ll match it (the price), and I will,” a frustrated Hanchey says.
A series of profiles of small businesses in the Pikes Peak region.
Of course, that’s not the only challenge for Bingo’s. The horse community is not what it was in 1929, when Bingo’s opened as a harness shop downtown. (It didn’t get named Bingo’s, though, until Dominic “Bingo” Sentena took over the business in the early 1940s; he was owner for more than 40 years.)
As the Springs has become more “citified,” Hanchey says, horse ownership has been pushed to the edges of the community and become “an expensive hobby.” Meanwhile, Bingo’s has to compete not only with Amazon, but also with other, larger brick and mortar retailers, such as Big R and Tractor Supply.
Bingo’s tries to stand out by selling “a little nicer stuff,” Hanchey says. But, she adds, “not so nice that I outprice myself, because there are a lot of people who are just trying to pay for hay and can’t afford expensive tack.”
Hanchey and Parker, both horsewomen, joined in the business with Jeannine Vanderhoff, who had been manager under another longtime owner, Phil Guy, and took over the shop when he retired. The sisters became sole owners when Vanderhoff left to become a nurse a few years ago.
They moved the business a couple of doors down to its current location, 422 S. 8th St., and commissioned muralist Douglas Rouse to paint an eye-catching mural on the south wall; it shows two riders seemingly bursting out of the wall, one in an English saddle and the other riding Western.
“Bingo’s was essentially Western forever,” Hanchey says. But to stay alive, a tack shop has to cater to both styles “and just try to take care of everybody.”
In addition to selling tack, saddles, riding apparel and grooming supplies, Bingo’s offers some products from local artisans, such as jewelry and custom mugs. “It’s kind of fun,” Hanchey says, “because when you support this local business, you’re not just supporting us, you’re supporting the half-dozen women who have their stuff in here.”
Bingo’s also repairs horse blankets and sells people’s used saddles on consignment. While the business retains some loyal, longtime customers, it’s “quieter” these days, Hanchey acknowledges. Across the country, she says, independent tack shops “are dropping like flies.”
She’s trying to avoid that fate.
“When you have a store that is this old, the thought of it going down on my watch is crushing. This store is not about the money you make — not by a long shot — but it definitely is a labor of love.”