Littleton's beloved horse supply store has ridden into the sunset. The Tack Shack, which for decades supplied equestrians at Littleton Boulevard and Datura Street, headed to the final roundup on May …
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Littleton's beloved horse supply store has ridden into the sunset.
The Tack Shack, which for decades supplied equestrians at Littleton Boulevard and Datura Street, headed to the final roundup on May 31 after owner Lynn Paulsen decided it was time to move on.
Paulsen broke both shoulders two years ago, she said, and after several surgeries and with more on the horizon, she can no longer hoist heavy saddles or wash saddle blankets.
Coupled with a societal shift toward online shopping that's claimed plenty of other tack shops in recent years, Paulsen said the writing was on the wall.
“It's time to do something different,” Paulsen said. “I love all of our customers for sticking with us and being part of our family. It's been wonderful.”
The shop's closure is a big loss to customers like Betsy Noel, who have been shopping there for decades.
“They've been an amazing resource,” said Noel, who keeps two horses in Greenwood Village. “Lynn is always willing to fix my blankets, make suggestions on products, or just listen. There's just nothing else in the area like this place.”
Paulsen said getting to know her customers has been the great joy of owning the Tack Shack.
“We know what their horse is doing, whether they're in a show, if they've been bucked off, who their trainer is,” Paulsen said. “I say it's like Switzerland. It's neutral. Your secrets are safe here.”
Paulsen took over the shop 13 years ago, after burning out on corporate America. She took the shop, founded in 1978, in a new direction, she said.
“It was pretty hokey and run-down,” Paulsen said. She switched the store's focus from Western-style riding to English-style, which was growing in popularity among young women in the area.
Having a place to try out gear and clothing with help from knowledgeable staff is invaluable, Paulsen said.
“If you put the wrong bit in a horse's mouth, depending on your skill set, you can be seriously hurt,” Paulsen said. “If you get a poorly-fitting helmet and you get bucked off, you can be killed. When you go to a show, there are strict attire rules about how your jacket and boots should fit. This is a complicated world to be part of, and having experts to help you through it makes all the difference. You don't get that from shopping online.”
Paulsen said she's proud of the dozens of young women she took under her wing over the years, giving many their first job.
“Our team members go from barely being able to answer a phone to being able to fit a helmet or choose new products at market,” Paulsen said. “I hope I planted seeds to help them move forward in life.”
The Tack Shack is more than a job for Ali Lamberson, who has been shopping at the store since she was 8. Now 17, she says the staff is like family.
“I grew up here,” Lamberson said. “I've learned so much more than I could have from a barn: Patience. How to approach someone when you're not in control. How to help somebody through something.”
Lamberson's little sister was a student at STEM School Highlands Ranch during the May 7 shooting that left one student dead and eight injured, and she said the shop has been an important place of healing.
“We're all here for each other,” Lamberson said. “It's been a safe space to come talk openly without judgment.”
The store has been touched by school violence many times, Paulsen said. Many Columbine High School students shopped there, as did Claire Davis, who was killed by a classmate at Arapahoe High School in 2013.
“I watched Claire grow up,” Paulsen said. “We've been at the epicenter, and this is a place for people to talk about things like that.”
Paulsen's still got work to do: there are consignors to settle up with, merchandise to sell off on eBay, and eventually she'll sell the building.
This summer, though, she plans to hit the road with her friends in a vintage trailer club.
It'll be sad to say goodbye to the Tack Shack, Paulsen said, but she's proud of what she's accomplished.
“It's been a great ride.”
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