Part of last week was an almost unplanned trip to Shipshewana. We didn't think we could squeeze it in and do the drive back to Illinois & Wisconsin & make it out to my official birthday dinner, dressed, full of witty conversation without collapsing.
Wait - back up to the 'we' part first. This was suppose to be a solo adventure to Michigan for Quilt show and stitching time. Through a twist of fate, and thanks to a few clients really pissing her off, my friend Pam escaped the corporate bonds for Thursday & Friday!
Since she didn't feel up to driving 3 1/2 hours on Wednesday night (sissy!) after a day dealing with the aforementioned clients, we made impromptu plans to meet up at a mall (??!!) in South Bend and head out together from there. This plan cut off a good hour of travel if she would have come here and then we headed out back down into Indiana.
We headed to Shipshewana for the things on our list:
A few more colors of Peppered Cottons,
some black poly/cotton blend batting,
some titanium needles,
|Klasse Machine Needles|
and JAM for me.
Pepperoni for her. Why on God's Green Earth we have to travel through Chicago, all the way to Amish country Indiana to find decent pepperoni (at a reasonable price) is a mystery but we were here so it's all good!
I have shared that I was also checking out local tack shops for any interesting bits of tack - new & used. And while the shops I stopped at on the way home from the quilt show were very nice - nothing jumped out at me. Kind of a let down but hey, since we were now heading to Shipshe, tack finds might still be possible.
I have been researching tack shops in IL, WI, MI & IN, as well as hunting new & used saddles, learning the different websites for reliable information, the various features of certain brands of current and older models of saddles, following the progression of old saddlery companies into their rebirth as divisions of new companies, the use of the same/similar models numbers across manufacturers and basically doing the geeky research thing the Shopping Maven is known for.
One website I have checked often for used saddle, discovering they have AWESOME prices on new saddles as well, is the Horse Saddle Shop. What I hadn't noticed is the small-ish print a the top of the website - 'Visit our Northern Indiana Store'. Really???!!! I.AM. AN. IDIOT!! I missed this - just how dense can I be? Google maps showed us within a spitting distance on their location. Okay, maybe not that close but it was only a HALF HOUR straight south from the mall where we met up, an hour west of Shipshe but heading back towards my car. This was a no brainer of a stop - we're here and if we stayed on task, stuck to the shopping list and blew threw the necessary stops, we could do it! I don't think I've ever made it in & out of Lolly's Fabrics that quickly in my life!
Was it worth it? YES! We walked into western saddle heaven - makers, models, styles, new & used all waiting to be found. Except for the one we were hoping they would have in stock. The one saddle Pam wanted for herself, having ridden it at the barn and me having found the same one used for her husband Tony earlier this year.
The Horse Saddle Shop had this saddle advertised on their website for $948. Other shops sell this same saddle for between $1100 to $1400! But they didn't have it in stock. Bummer!!!
But wait, the friendly, helpful staff said they could order it for her... at the sale price. wow!
And then it got interesting.
Since they would have to call to order it anyway, would it be possible to see if it could be made in another color? We were reaching for the stars at this point but it couldn't hurt to ask, right? The saddle is normally made in the Chestnut Brown color. Would they, could they do a different finish? Both Pam & I were holding our breath, cause the next question is - if they are willing to do a custom order, how much would they charge for it?
Dig this, Shopping Maven minions - the saddle was to be sold at the sale price of $948, it would be made in the Medium Oil color (shown below on a different saddle) for only an additional $37.50, AND shipped right to her house at NO shipping charge!!!
A totally custom saddle, in the model Pam wanted delivered for just over $1000., including tax!! There was much joy and even squeals of delight. Nice birthday present to herself (October is right around the corner) and I got to share in the excitement.
And we made it home early Friday afternoon - plenty early to be rested and dressed for dinner!