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ARCHIVED  July 1, 1996

Western, outdoor apparel creates Cheyenne niche

CHEYENNE – Visitors to Cheyenne in July aren’t surprised to find people “dressing Western,” but they may be surprised that dressing people
Western is a year-round business for two Cheyenne-based companies, Cheyenne Outfitters and Corral West Ranchwear.

And they may be even more surprised to learn that Cheyenne is home to a fast-growing outdoor recreation catalog company, Sierra Trading Post,
which has a newly expanded outlet store just off Interstate 80.

Cheyenne Outfitters and Corral West go head to head for tourist dollars in the heart of downtown Cheyenne, with Corral West doing business under a
well-known mechanical horse as the Wrangler, while Cheyenne Outfitters, known as Western Ranch Outfitters until 1987, has been across the street
for more than a half century.

But that’s where the similarity ends.

Corral West, which also operates two retail stores on Cheyenne’s north side as well as stores in Laramie, Greeley, Fort Collins, and Longmont, is a
major Western wear retailer, with 50 stores in 11 Western states. Its newest opened in Omaha, Neb., about a month ago, said Gordon Horton, its
marketing director.

“We opened six stores last year, and we were really kind of holding back, because the retail business has been a little weak, but if you find a good
location with some good opportunities, then you go with it,” Horton said.

Corral West, which has about 500 employees, including 34 in its Cheyenne headquarters, opened its first Denver-area store at Westminster last year
and is looking for other locations in the Denver area.

“We have been in smaller communities all through the Rocky Mountains, and they’ve been good to us, but the bottom line can be aided by a larger
community, so we’re looking more at the larger cities for that extra growth,” he said.

Cheyenne Outfitters started as a retail store, but since its purchase from the Veta family in 1987, it has been primarily a mail-order operation, said Jack
Luedtke, its vice president and general manager.

“We’re catalogers,´ said Luedtke, noting that Cheyenne Outfitters mails upwards of 20 million catalogs a year and receives upwards of 95 percent of
its business from catalog orders. Western Ranch Outfitters added a catalog operation in 1936, but more as a sideline to its retail store, and never
mailed more than a half-million catalogs a year.

Cheyenne Outfitters moved the catalog operation to a new location on North American Road on Cheyenne’s west side and has watched its mail-order
business take off from there.

That said, Cheyenne Outfitters doesn’t forsake its Lincolnway retail operation, especially in July. “It’s like the second coming of Christmas,” Luedtke
said. “The problem is that it’s all in one month.”

And Cheyenne Outfitters has joined Sierra Trading Post with an outlet store, occupying about 3,000 square feet of its 60,000 square-foot catalog
complex on North American Road. The outlet store has been open only for four weeks, but Luedtke said that so far, he’s been “very pleased” and will
continue testing the operation for the balance of this year.

Sierra Trading Post, meanwhile, has expanded both its outlet store and its mail-order operation in the four years since relocating to Cheyenne from
Sparks, Nev., just outside Reno. Its Cheyenne base has tripled in size to about 90,000 square feet, counting mezzanines, and it is expanding its
catalog sales area and adding an 800 telephone number, said founder and president Keith Richardson.

“We are growing quite rapidly, and we are ahead of our growth expectations, our long-range growth plan, by about two years,” he said of his
10-year-old company. Sales have nearly tripled since the move to Cheyenne, and the number of employees has grown from 60 to 150.

Like Cheyenne Outfitters, Sierra Trading Post relies on mail orders for 90 percent of its business and also mails upwards of 20 million catalogs a year,
while operating retail outlets in Cheyenne and Reno.

Its niche is selling high-quality outdoor recreation clothing at 25 percent to 75 percent of normal price, and its customers are quality-conscious and
value-conscious, Richardson said.

Born in shadow of the Sierra Nevadas, Richardson’s company now identifies with Wyoming’s Sierra Madre Range. Moving to Wyoming has been
good for business because the cost of doing business is lower, he said. Here, he can own his building for less than a comparable building would cost
to rent in Reno, plus his cost for workers’ compensation and health-insurance premiums are a third lower, shipping costs are 20 percent lower and his
work force is high-quality with less turnover.

“The low cost of doing business here allows us to keep our prices down, and that does have a direct impact on our volume,” Richardson said. “If
we’d been in Reno, I think our prices would have to be higher, and that would have had a negative impact on our sales growth.”

Similarly, Cheyenne’s two Western-wear business are looking ahead to continued expansion, even though there has been a slowdown in retail and
catalog sales nationally.

“Retailing has its ups and downs, but I think we’ll have some good, steady growth and a good bright future,´ said Corral West’s Horton.

“We haven’t gone unscathed,´ said Cheyenne Outfitters’ Luedtke, “but ours is a predictable business if you tend to the numbers and watch your costs,
as are L.L. Bean and Land’s End.” He said he believes the retail slump has bottomed out, and he’s excited about the fall.

CHEYENNE – Visitors to Cheyenne in July aren’t surprised to find people “dressing Western,” but they may be surprised that dressing people
Western is a year-round business for two Cheyenne-based companies, Cheyenne Outfitters and Corral West Ranchwear.

And they may be even more surprised to learn that Cheyenne is home to a fast-growing outdoor recreation catalog company, Sierra Trading Post,
which has a newly expanded outlet store just off Interstate 80.

Cheyenne Outfitters and Corral West go head to head for tourist dollars in the heart of downtown Cheyenne, with Corral West doing business under a
well-known mechanical horse as…

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