End of a Local Era

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The day of the horse is over.

Or at least it's over as far as our Idaho town's longtime horse-goods purveyor is concerned. Earlier this week, everything in the store's equestrian inventory had its prices slashed in half for liquidation. The store will still sell camping gear, hunting/fishing equipment, and all manner of other sporting/outdoor goods--but the horse department is going away after serving the community for decades.

I suppose it's just another casualty of increased catalog and Internet shopping. Ours isn't the first locale where that's happened. Web-based stores have far more inventory and lower prices (if you don't count shipping fees--and many people don't, it seems, when bargain-hunting on the basis of item price alone). You can't blame a store manager for calling it quits on something when it doesn't yield enough profit to make it worthwhile to carry.

And perhaps there are fewer people now, at least in our area, who bother to keep horses. Perhaps there are fewer still who'll miss the convenience of stopping in for a fresh set of clipper blades, a halter for the new foal, a tube of dewormer, a set of saddle bags.

I joined a couple of friends to swoop in on the half-off sale, ready to stock my horse-pantry with shampoo, hoof conditioner, turnout blankets, and other goodies. But I felt more than a pang or two as I loaded up my cart.

Don't hunters have catalogs to shop from, too? And what does it say about the times we live in when a store can continue to carry boxes of bullets, but no longer finds it necessary to give shelf space to curry combs and hoof picks?