Tackle Tack Room Clutter

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It's time for a spring cleaning in the tack room and here are some great ideas for getting rid of some of the old tack at your barn—that can help others and benefit your bottom line. Be sure to check out the slideshow accompanying this article.

If you’re like many barns, your tack room’s jammed with excess stuff—extra saddles, bridles, way too many saddle pads—and it’s time to make some space.

You can clear racks quickly by taking saddles to a consignment shop. Or, reclaim space by hauling your stuffed tack trunks and garment bags to the next tack swap. To sell at a slower pace, you can list gear online, or even launch your own in-barn swap or sale.

However you sell, you’re recycling items that other equestrians can reuse. Finding new owners for used tack makes sense for the environment, the economy and your ability to operate efficiently.

Consigning Tack

The simplest approach is to let a shop sell your items for you, for a commission. “Determine how much it’s worth to you to have someone else sell it for you,” says Debra Langdon, DivaTack Consignment, Mesa, Arizona (divatack.com) who runs a mobile tack shop and recently opened a storefront.

Langdon works with barns for both buying and selling. “I will take saddles for people to try on the horse right there. And when people at barns tell me they have saddles, I’ll go pick them up.”

Before you consign, examine your tack with a buyer’s eye. Is your saddle in near-perfect condition, or does the leather show wear or fading? Are those 15-year-old boots ready to show, or are they out of fashion?

For pricing, Langdon suggests researching similar saddles online, new and used. “Most customers are good with a reasonable price. They realize, ‘It’s not doing me any good. If it can do someone else good, that’s the price.’”

As for the shop’s commission, “My consignment fee comes out of the price we set,” Langdon says, so price accordingly.

Equine Swap Meet

Many horse groups present tack exchanges or swap meets. For the cost of a table, you display goods for dozens or even hundreds of buyers to inspect.

Look for sales at central locations, such as a fairgrounds or equestrian center. Many events happen in springtime. “March and April are the best times to have it, when people are thinking about getting out,” says Linda Webb, Monroe City, Missouri, an organizer of the swap meet of the Missouri State Saddle Club Association.

Most sales are run on commission (20 to 25%), like the one to benefit the Vermont Quarter Horse Association. Sellers price items and drop them off at one of the barns presenting the event. “The owner doesn’t need to be at the sale,” says Kim Bisson, Barre, Vermont. “Other Quarter Horse barns pool together clothing or equipment.” The sale is held in the indoor arena at Swett Show Horses.

Organizers will advertise with flyers, online ads, and notices in equine publications. To do your own promoting to ensure the sale’s success, post your own Craigslist ad to describe high-end show gear you’ll bring to the tack exchange.

Bring items that are clean and ready to use. For imperfect goods, or those valuable only for their metal hardware, consider creating a “free” box. It’s a great way to unclutter your tack room, while potentially providing some useful items.

Bits, boots, and grooming tools show well on tables. Add a clothing rack to hang show clothes and strap goods, and bring portable saddle racks for saddles. A large facility might allow you to park your trailer as your display. If you are not planning on attending the event, make sure you have a comprehensive checklist of the items you have supplied, along with pricing. Even better would be to have pictures of the items, just in case there is a mix-up after the event.

If you are at the sale, be ready to greet shoppers, and to answer their questions. You might need to compare different bridles or halters, or explain the use of any unusual tack. If a halter has a torn hole, you’d show how the holes below and above are still usable.

Have plenty of change on hand, and price every item. Buyers look for bargains, so enjoy haggling, and offer discounts for multiple items or even a Buy One Get One deal.

But these events are also great networking and marketing opportunities, especially if it supports a group or a cause. So bring some business cards and a few brochures.

If you’d like to host such a group sale at your barn, take the advice of John Collins, owner of Cherry Tree Farm in Albuquerque, which hosts the the Horse Emporium, presented by the New Mexico Horse Council: Plan ahead—at least six months. And make sure your facilities are right for the job. “You’ll need places for parking, and room to set up vendors,” says Collins. Not to mention, restroom facilities, a food and beverage stand, and any other extras that might draw buyers.

Selling on Your Own

Selling tack is like selling horses—it can take time to make a sale. You can list equipment on Craigslist for local sales. On eBay, you’d register as a seller, and handle packaging and shipping.

With plenty to sell between you and your clients, run your own barn sale. Plan for a short time period, say 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on a weekend, and enlist helpers to price items and set up. If you live within city limits, check to see if you need a garage sale permit.

Advertise online on your Website, Facebook page, and Craigslist. Post signs on the main road, and add more if your place is hard to find. Your local paper might have a special tagsale section you can advertise in, as well.

Realize that like a garage sale, your event brings strangers on your property. Clearly mark the limits of the sale area, and watch that shoppers don’t wander into the barn or paddocks. When selling tack, protect yourself by following the same protocol you do for horse sales. Decide if riders may bring horses to your barn for saddle fitting. Collins recommends adding insurance coverage: “Tell your insurance company you need a rider off your event insurance.”

Some barns set up resale shops, to market used tack on consignment year-round. This enterprise does require a dedicated space, time and staff to manage the business, and some good marketing to make it successful.

If you are just using the Internet to sell used tack, consider adding a “Marketplace” page that contains both your tack and your client’s tack. Allow clients to fill it with photos and descriptions, with the seller’s contact information.

In the end, when you choose to declutter the tack collection at your barn, pick the method that will be the best use of your time and will get the most bang for your buck.

Donations Appreciated

If you don’t have the time or energy to sell your extra tack, consider reaching out to not-for-profit programs that are very much in need of good used tack. For example, therapeutic riding centers are always on the lookout for good equipment.

One well-known effort seeking lightly used riding gear is The Rider’s Closet (www.pegasustr.org/trc), started by rider Georgina Bloomberg. Some other organizations include equine rescue groups, the Air Force Academy’s Warrior Wellness Program (www.usafa.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123270352), colleges that are members of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, and prisons that teach inmates to train horses. Donating your barn’s equipment to these facilities creates a win-win for everyone (and might even get your barn a tax write-off).