Now that the whirlwind of Valencia Sport Saddlery's 10th anniversary festivities has subsided, Ecole Nauber has a little time to reflect on the decade's experience as the owner of one of the Los Angeles area's top tack stores. A 3-year-old rider comes immediately to mind. "We helped her with her first riding outfit, and she's now starting high school," says Ecole. "Developing such long-term relationships with our customers is one of the best things about owning this business. Our customers are wonderful."
That attitude suffuses everything that goes on at Valencia Sport Saddlery. Quality and choice are the business' watchwords and it has established a reputation for top-notch customer service, extensive inventory and fair prices. The store recently moved from its original Santa Clarita location to Lake View Terrace. At 2,800 square feet, the site is double the original store's size and it's just 15 minutes away on the 210 Freeway. Loyal customers have not minded the drive and the new location, near Hansen Dam Equestrian Center, is centrally located to many equestrian facilities.
Yelp! raves cite Valencia's trustworthy service and great inventory. Ecole and her staff are active horse owners, resulting in stock that's carefully selected for a wide range of budgets and preferences. From grooming supplies to gifts, tack to treats, and supplements to show attire, Valencia Sport Saddlery typically carries between 5,000 and 8,000 items. Ecole regularly attends trade shows to scout the latest in every category. Strong relationships with manufacturers' representatives enable Ecole and her team to stay abreast of product details and they are happy to make further inquiries on their customers' behalf as needed. An active presence on Facebook and other social media gives followers a heads up on the steady influx of cool new arrivals.
Familiarity with their customers is one of Valencia's strong points. This starts with a sophisticated point-of-sale computer system that stores information like breech and blanket sizes. When a parent comes in for holiday shopping, for example, it's easy to find out what sizes and styles they purchased for their child the previous year.
Valencia's approach includes personalized services like knowing barn colors and tack preferences at several Southern California training barns, as well as the tastes of individual customers. Trainers send clients to Valencia knowing they will be treated well by knowledgeable and courteous people.
Ecole's background was in film production, not retailing. She initially worried that the store would have to compete with internet-based tack suppliers on price. After a few years, however, she realized that horseowners know there is no substitute for customer service. "Our prices are competitive and fair, but we focus our energy on doing business in ways an online retailer never can," Ecole explains. "The long term relationships we've built with customers and trainers throughout Southern California are really important to me. We have a rapport with them and they know they can trust us."
Valencia Sport Saddlery carries horse care and gift items suitable for any style of riding, while tack and apparel are geared for english disciplines. "English is what I know and that's what we do very well," Ecole says.
Valencia is well known for its support of the equestrian community. Horse shows and therapeutic riding programs, the IEL, CPHA and PCHA are among the beneficiaries of Valencia's generosity. During the recent 10th anniversary celebrations, Valencia hosted a raffle to raise funds for the Auction Horses Rescue. The store and its customers wound up collecting $3,000 for the noble Santa Clarita-based endeavor. "It's important to us that we give back to the equestrian community any way we can," Ecole concludes.
And that concludes Ecole's brief window of time to reflect on Valencia's first decade. The holidays are huge for the shop and there's much to be done in preparation. No matter how busy the season, however, the Valencia Sport Saddlery staff can be counted on for great service and, if desired, advice and ideas for every horse owner.
For more information, visit www.valenciasaddlery.com or call the store