Great western stores seem to be few and far between these days. There are a couple here in the Phoenix area, and I’m pretty sure you Texans have some good options, but one of the best I’ve found is in Rancho Murieta, California. In fact, it’s on the grounds of the Murieta Equestrian Center, an amazing facility that hosts many major equine events including the upcoming El Rancho Spring Classic Cutting. Take the time to visit Cares & Whoas if you are attending the cutting, you won’t regret it. I mean how can you resist a store that describes its style as “glamour ranch”? I mean, seriously. And then when you find out that 100% of the proceeds from Cares & Whoas go to the West Coast Equine Foundation, you’ll be shopping for sure!
The manager of Cares & Whoas is Erica Rubalcaba. Erica obviously has a knack for retail, but is also accomplished in the world of cutting horses. Her knowledge of the true western lifestyle is very evident in the products and styles the store carries. She was kind enough to answer a few of my questions and let you all get to know her and Cares & Whoas a bit better! Oh, and I’ve discovered our 3rd “Search for the Favorite Show Shirt” option at Cares & Whoas-stay tuned for a special post in the next week or so. OK, back to Erica!
Bear: How did Cares & Whoas come to be?
ER: The vision of a Western boutique which housed the latest in “glamour ranch” fashions and furnishings was a dream of Carol Anderson Ward. Her intent when she established C&W was not solely for her love of the equestrian lifestyle, but also as a means to lend support to a philanthropic project very near and dear to her, the West Coast Equine Foundation. What makes C&W unique beyond the merchandise showcased in store is the fact that 100% of ALL proceeds benefit the WCEF. As shoppers of C&W, each and every customer is able to carry on the mission of the WCEF of providing higher level education opportunities, support to horse rescue and therapeutic riding programs as well as 4-H clubs and other service organizations dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for both horse and rider and promoting the belief in horsemanship, sportsmanship and equine care.
Bear: Describe the Cares & Whoas customer.
ER: C&W’s customers are equestrians; lovers of horses, equestrian living and everything the lifestyle entails. They understand the bond between horse and human and their passion has infiltrated all aspects of their being. They come to shop with C&W looking for unique, equestrian inspired styles and furnishings which set them apart from the herd and provide the “whoa” factor to their wardrobe or home interior.
Bear: What are some of the brands you carry?
ER: In house, customers can shop many of the mainstay Western labels including Old Gringo, Double D Ranchwear, Ryan Michael, Scully, and Stetson in addition to newer labels hitting the Western scene such as Georg Roth Los Angeles, Double J Saddlery, Juan Antonio Handbags and J Forks Jewelry. Customers can also find a few contemporary cross-over lines to add a little variety to their wardrobe.
Bear: What is your favorite part of managing the store?
ER: The opportunity to be part of such an amazing venture is a true blessing. Acting as manager, I am able to combine my roots in equestrian living with my passion for design and fashion. My duties as store manager include all aspects of the stores activities and I enjoy all facets of it, however my favorite part is assisting C&W customers find the “perfect” thing. Whether it be a new shirt to wear to walk the show pen, a pair of fashionable cowboy boots to step out in style, a beautiful piece of jewelry to accent a stylish outfit, or a unique piece of furniture to help transition a house to a home; the elation in a customer’s eyes when they find exactly what they were looking for, is a true reward.
Bear: What are your future goals or aspirations for the store?
ER: Over the course of three years since opening C&W, the store continues to grow and I learn more about our customers, what they are looking for and what it takes to keep them coming back, turning casual browsers into loyal customers. We realize not everyone has the ability visit us in Rancho Murieta to shop with us in store. With our growth, we hope to take our small storefront and further develop our website as an e-commerce site which reflects the uniqueness of our store and the quality of our goods, allowing more people access to the one-of-a-kind goods we have to offer.
Awesome! I for one, am looking forward to an e-commerce site! But for now, if you see something you like, Erica is more than happy to help you with phone orders. Follow C&W on Facebook and visit their website for contact information and to keep up with new items. Shopping at C&W is a way to add some western glamour to your life while also helping to support a great cause. It doesn’t get any better than that! Thank you Erica!
Bear “McKenzie P.”