I’ve heard more than one person say that they had no idea SmartPak had a retail store, so I’m here to enlighten you: yes, Virginia, SmartPak maintains one retail store. It’s on Route 9 in Wellesley, Massachusetts – ironically, not too far from the original Dover Saddlery store. (At least I’m about 99% sure it was the first, anyway.)
I’ve been to the SmartPak store many times over the years, and it’s definitely kept coming up in the world as the company itself has grown and matured. Displays have gotten more comprehensive and more professional, with more complete equipment. The square footage is still relatively small (at least compared to my gold standard for retail tack stores, which is the Dover Saddlery store in Plaistow, New Hampshire, about which more later).
I’m visiting family in the area right now, and I had a pair of breeches my mother had bought for me but didn’t quite fit. So I packed them up and decided to bring my camera shopping.
The store itself is much more focused on rider than horse: most of the square footage is taken up by clothing, helmets, and boots.
Every color, every size of the new Pipers.
There’s plenty of tack, too – much more than there used to be. I think every single time I’ve set foot in the store they’ve re-arranged things to maximize their space, and added inventory.
That’s probably 1/5 of the bridles they had out. These are just the SmartPak brand ones.
There’s a separate area downstairs with information about the various Smart supplements.
Upstairs, you can find general horse equipment and other horse care items.
I love the small grace notes throughout the store. For example, this awesome space for people who just want to take a break.
Please note, to the bottom left of the coffee station, a grooming tote full of trucks and other toys. The screen was showing USEF Network livestreaming of the World Cup events in Las Vegas.
A “what’s in your trunk” display; the papers had info about an employee’s horse as well as why the employee picked the equipment she did for her horse. Really neat.
New England was already completely covered, so I didn’t even try to put a star up. Look how far people have come!
Let’s talk about the best part, though, and my source of complete win for the day: the SmartPak clearance outlet.
Do you see that? Every single one of those hangers is a pair of discounted Pipers. Most were 25% off. Some were 50% off. I saw several pairs at 75% off.
It’s all jumbled willy-nilly. You have to be committed to hunting through, but the bargains are amazing. On the left, Charles Owens – all at least 50% off. To the right: Tredstep DaVincis and Tredstep Donatellos, 25% – 50% off. Against the far wall, blankets from 50% – 75% off.
Things end up in the clearance section for a variety of reasons. Maybe they were customized but the stitching went wrong – or the client changed her mind. Maybe they were just discontinued. Maybe there’s a small piece missing. Very often this is where the returns that weren’t in perfect condition go – maybe someone wore a pair of breeches a few times, or snagged a thread taking them out of the packaging.
For example: white Ogilvy pad, some scuffs/wear but in otherwise perfect condition. 25% off $199.
I had already tried on a pair of Piper breeches, fallen in love, and set them aside to buy with my store credit, but here’s where I really ran into trouble. I found that whole rack of Piper breeches upstairs, and I started hunting them out in my size. Most of them were 25% off, but a few were more steeply discounted, including a few pairs at 75% off!
I found a pair of knee patch breeches with some loose thread. 50% off. Done! A second pair of knee patch Pipers – some scuffing around the waistband. 50% off again!
Finally, I capped it off with a pair in black with white piping, which was what I’d really come in for. I “settled” for 25% off for those.
My final order was $145, having saved a total of $99. I traded in the pair of breeches that hadn’t fit, and got $45 more knocked off the price. Final score: $100.95 for three pairs of brand-new Piper breeches. \o/
I’ll write up which ones I chose, and what I loved about the Pipers, in a separate post. Sadly, our temperatures at home in Vermont have plunged so that I may not be able to really school them until the spring.