For eight years, Tack Boutique was the equestrian center of downtown Winter Garden, with its offerings of riding outfits and accessories and horse-themed décor.
Nora Farrell has owned and operated her business at 21 S. Main St. since its opening in June 2011. Prior to that, she ran it as a mobile store for a year, attending horse shows and visiting barns to sell her merchandise.
Farrell retired and closed her doors permanently July 31, and it was a bittersweet day for the shop owner. Many of her customers became her friends, and she said she will miss the regular visits and conversations.
“I appreciate my loyal customers so much, and I loved getting to know them all and developing relationships with my customers,” Farrell said. “That was a really great part of my job, part of the business.”
Much of her business came from repeat customers, who frequented the store to buy products for themselves as well as gifts for friends and family.
“That was the thing about being downtown,” she said. “I had people come in all the time.”
Farrell said it was fun to see who was going to walk in the door next because she had customers from all over the world. Although she was located on one of downtown’s side streets, people acknowledged her sign outside and ventured in.
Her best sellers were the starter packs for new riders.
Now that she has closed her brick-and-mortar business, Farrell said she is considering setting up an eBay account or selling merchandise to other stores.
“It was just a personal decision (to close),” Farrell said. “My mom is 89; my sister just moved down here. I wanted more time to just spend with my family. (My husband) Nick travels a lot; I might get to travel some with him.”
Most days, it was Farrell behind the cash register; she had only occasional part-time help plus assistance from her husband and three children.
“People don’t realize it’s 24/7 when you own your own business, and I was just tired,” she said. “(On) the business side of it, I think I plateaued. I never got to the next level where I could hire another person.”
Farrell might have closed her shop, but she has no intentions of leaving the equestrian world.
“I’ve been connected to it for my whole life,” she said. “I’m not hanging up my boots or anything like that. I’m hoping to get back into riding because I really haven’t been on a horse in a few years.”
She said she would like to spend some time volunteering at local therapeutic horseback-riding organizations, such as Freedom Ride Inc., and those with animal therapy programs, such as Soul Haven Ranch. She admits she doesn’t plan to stay retired forever and would be happy working again, hopefully in the horse industry.
But for now, she is OK with giving up her storefront and stressing less about the issues that come with business ownership.
“It was my home for eight years,” Farrell said. “I will miss it, but I’m happy to not have to be here all day every day. It’s just time for someone else to take the reins, so to speak.”