Tehkummah Tack Shop not just for horse lovers

Some of the goods available at The Tack Shop in Tehkummah. The displays and shelves were handmade by owner Hannah Pearson with the help of some friends. photos by Lori Thompson

TEHKUMMAH—Hannah Pearson is confident, enthusiastic and knowledgeable as she leads this writer into her new store, The Tack Shop, located on Hwy 542A in Tehkummah. It smells of leather and cedar in the consignment area just inside the front door. Ms. Pearson is apologetic about the disarray, but everything is neatly folded and every item has its place.

The walls are lined with Manitoulin cedar, as are the stairs leading up to the main store and the sales counter inside the door. Ms. Pearson did all the woodwork herself, with the help of a few friends. She designed and built the display stands and wall shelves. Everything is cedar, except for the stick hooks that came from the bush at Pearson’s family farm in Providence Bay, cut and dowelled to size by Ms. Pearson.

“I really wanted to stick with a western, woodsy, homey feel when you come in,” she said. “That’s why I used sticks instead of wire. There are wire racks in the corner for the girths but that’s only because I couldn’t get sticks strong enough to hold the girths up. But that’s the only bit of metal display that I have.”

The Tack Shop opened on December 1 of last year after three months of preparation and renovation. Two ladies from Echo Bay came by that day. “They said it was a worthwhile drive and they know quite a few people who will make the trip once spring comes,” Ms. Pearson said. “Actually, a lot of local people came and supported me.”

December was fairly busy, but “it’s been pretty dead the last few days.” Ms. Pearson isn’t concerned. Except for a radio advertisement for her grand opening and a Facebook page, she hasn’t done any promotion. There will be billboards in the spring, three of them. Two will be on Hwy 6, one at each entrance to the Island, and another likely on Hwy 540. You can also expect to find The Tack Shop at the 2015 Manitoulin Trade Fair.

The 18-year-old was introduced to horses by her mother about five years ago. She has 10 of her own now, and two miniatures. “It’s really just grown from there,” she explained. “I ran a business this summer called Cedar Rock Equine. I was training, selling and boarding horses. I’m not doing that anymore. It was just a summer thing, for fun.”

That venture was successful and led to this one. It’s the only tack store on the Island. Ms. Pearson became tired of driving to Sudbury and knew others who felt the same way. Many of them were also uncomfortable ordering supplies online. “I wanted to do this so that other horse people can come and touch and feel the products instead of just guessing and then getting it and not liking it,” she said.

Ms. Pearson selects her products with care. “I sell things that I like, that I know are quality. That’s what I want to carry in my store. It’s good quality stuff and it’s going to last.”

The store carries health and grooming supplies, snacks, saddles, helmets, bridles, girths and much more. While her main audience is the equestrians on the Island, there is something for horse enthusiasts and others too. Custom products like key chains, handmade natural soaps, an equestrian themed jewellery line, and western-style purses are just a few of the available items. The shop carries consignment items for sale in store or online. “Just bring me what you have and I sell it,” she said. She encourages people to just ask if they don’t see what they want, and she will find the product and order it in.

Her favourite product right now is the handmade soap she makes herself. “My Aunt Bonnie showed me how to make soap,” she said. “I liked how they felt on my skin and that they’re made naturally and don’t have any harsh chemicals. That’s why I got into them and I want to bring Manitoulin Island people something nice that’s good for their skin, that’s locally made, and that’s natural.”

The soaps are subtly scented and have fun, quirky names like Cowgirl Dream, First Love, Eye Canada, Wild and Free, Dirty Girl and Manitoulin Summer. The labels are designed and printed in house with the help of mom Julie Pearson, who runs Beacon Images. Soaps can also be ordered with custom labels for weddings or other events.

She thinks twice about choosing a favourite product, and decides she can’t make up her mind. “Everything,” she said. “I just like everything about my store. I like making it decorative. I like that I have a wide range of everything. I like that I can bring in custom items. I like the horse tack. I enjoy everything in my store.”

Shipping off-Island has been the biggest challenge to date, but she’s figuring it out. Anyone can contact Ms. Pearson through her Facebook page (type ‘The Tack Shop’ in the search bar) and send her a message if they would like to purchase anything they see online. “You just message me and I will find the product, send you pictures and get you a shipping quote,” she said. “I have no problem shipping it out.” Payment can be through PayPal or by e-transfer for online sales, and she can accept credit cards in store.

Her biggest accomplishment to date has been the grand opening. “Because all the work was done and everybody got to see it. That was the hardest thing, just cutting all this wood and assembling it and then redoing stuff, getting it ready to look good. Everybody got to see it and said it looks good. And that was so nice, it felt great.”

It was also rewarding attending trade shows and seeing how people reacted to her as a young businesswoman. “It’s been fun going to trade shows where I’d meet suppliers in person,” she said. “They’d start talking to my mother, and she’d say, not me—talk to her. So they’d talk to me and be impressed with what I knew and what I asked them. It was really enjoyable to have that experience.”

Mom Julie Pearson is proud of Hannah. “It’s her own money invested into the inventory. She took the initiative, decided how she wanted it to look and that’s what happened. She’s done well.”

The Tack Shop is open Monday to Friday from 10 am to noon, or by appointment.