By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
Published in the Las Cruces Bulletin 8/9/19
It’s been a long, hard year living through the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) road reconstruction of Valley Drive. But the road is now open in front of Western Mercantile at 848 N. Valley Drive and traffic is starting to flow past again. Manager Jason Yarbrough says he still misses the tourist traffic - folks who want a taste of the classic wild west offered by the name “Western Mercantile”. But he knows they will be back, and thank goodness for local, loyal, repeat customers who value the selection of hats, boots, and rodeo gear offered by the store.
On this morning Yarbrough knows the customers walking in the door - in quick order it’s two sets of grandfathers with their grandchildren. One grandfather is in search of large-sized boots for his teenager. “We can special order anything we have in stock in a larger size,” he assures them. The second grandfather is scouting the store, perhaps for the first cowboy hat for his pint-sized companion.
“That’s our specialty, shaping hats,” said Yarbrough. “There isn’t another place in town that’ll shape a hat just so.” He points out three posters showing at least thirty or forty versions of hat shapes with names like the El Paso or the Teardrop. “Plus, if you buy it from us, we’ll shape it for free and reshape it if needed - like if your grandkid sits on it.”
Western Mercantile is proud to be part of the community, especially with hat donations to local rodeo queens who need a special hat to match their outfit. “When the smallest ones come in, they’ve never worn a hat before in their lives and we can make it just the way that fits their outfit and personality,” he said.
Straw hats range from $39 to $150 and felt hats range from $79 to $400. “It depends on the amount of beavering it has,” explained Yarbrough. He says the Western Mercantile boot selection is big, big enough to even attract repeat customers from El Paso. It’s a one stop shop for many people, buying boots, a hat, and “everything you could possibly need for your horse.” But if you want to make sure what you need is in stock, give Western Mercantile a call at (575) 523-9351.
“Ours in a hometown location, we get to know you, your family, your horses, and just chit-chat with you,” he said. “A good deal for us is getting to know the people who walk through that door.”
The NMDOT Valley Drive road reconstruction project is scheduled for completion in early 2020; in the meantime, the City of Las Cruces encourages residents to continue supporting local businesses and stores on Valley Drive. More information on monthly update meetings www.valleydrive.net.
PHOTO 1: Manager Jason Yarbrough and assistant manager Daniel Castro stand in front of the hats yet to be shaped for their owners. Western Mercantile at 848 N. Valley Drive is waiting to shape a new hat just for you, so head down and find the perfect one!