From Real Estate to Retail
From a small warehouse and the back of a van, Charlotte Raisbeck made a dream come true 30 years ago. Today her twin sons, Mark and Tim carry on her dream - the dream known as Charlotte's Saddlery an equestrian lover's retail heaven. From saddles to brushes and riding apparel , Charlotte's Saddlery is a full service saddlery and tack store for both English and Western riding.
The dream for Charlotte's Saddlery began in the late 1960's when Charlotte's daughter Vickie, moved to Houston and soon found that there just were not a lot of equestrian saddlery and tack stores for English riders. When Vickie told her mother about the lack of English tack stores in Houston, Charlotte had a vision of building a new life in the equestrian business. So, in 1976 Charlotte packed up her belongings and family and left her home and Real Estate career behind in Kansas City, Missouri to turn her dream into reality in Texas!
After settling down in Houston, Charlotte opened her first store, Charlotte's Saddlery, in July of 1977. In the early days, the store was located in an old warehouse on the north side of Old Katy Road and was stocked with only English tack and supplies. Because Charlotte had grown up riding and competing in the English discipline, it was only natural that she stuck to what she knew best.
Like any entrepreneur, she worked from the bottom up, traveling from horse show to horse show on the weekends. Charlotte quickly developed a sharp business sense for the equestrian market in Houston and within a year of starting up she needed more space. She opened a new store on the south side of I-10, just east of Kirkwood and remained in that location until 1997. Mark joined his mother's business straight out of college in 1979, with his brother Tim later following in 1981.
Charlotte was such a unique and friendly person that many horse people would come by simply to say "Hi" and chat. Her personal warmth and style had a tremendous influence on the success and growth of the business.
In 1984, Charlotte opened up a second store, this one in Tomball. However, this new beginning happened to coincide with the beginning of an economic recession that hit the Houston area in a major way. Undaunted, Charlotte carried on, successfully weathering the economic storms of the eighties and once again, decided it was time to expand. In 1994, the store extended its product lines to include Western riding equipment and show clothing. By the year 2000, Charlotte's was online serving equestrians all over Texas, the US and borders beyond, including regular customers from as far away as South America and Japan.
In 1995 tragedy struck and Charlotte passed away from cancer. Her sons Mark and Tim took over the stores after her death.
So what is it that has kept this family run business intact for the past 30 years, through economic recessions, expansions, moves and deaths?
Several variables contribute to this continuing success story including carrying the appropriate merchandise, providing quality customer service, keeping up with the latest trends and technology in tack, apparel and equipment, and supplying the correct product information. The legacy Charlotte passed on to her sons was the importance of taking care of customer's needs by providing excellent service and knowledge. From special orders and custom products to individual saddle fittings, customers can always be assured they will receive the very best service from the staff at Charlotte's Saddlery!