W&E Today provides retailers and manufacturers with education and ideas that provoke innovation in the Western and English markets.
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EARLY SPRING 2014 Western & English Today 17 Attention Retailers: Retail Subscription Program Promote the products you sell through Cowboys & Indians' visual presentation of the Western lifestyle. Questions? Contact C&I c/o RetailVision for details: Toll Free: 1-800-381-1288. Bits & Spurs catalog. "Each spur has 24 pieces, bits can have a dozen or more," says Balding. "I had no idea what I was getting into … there are literally tens of thou- sands of combinations just in our catalog." Which is why orders can take four to six weeks: Every bit and spur is custom-crafted when the order is received. That being said, Balding's staf adheres to a rigid rule. "I'm fanatical about delivery," he says. "If I promise a delivery date, that's when the person or store will get it." Although the bits and spurs are undoubtedly art — metal sculptures, if you will — their primary purposes are utilitar- ian ones. Take, for example, the Switchback Ace of Spades with Roller, shown on page 14: Although formidable in appearance, the curved mouthpiece with the sweet copper rollers is ergonomically built to conform to a horse's mouth. "T e switchback design is one of the most popular designs we've ever made," says Balding. T e tiny stainless steel or brass dots on the shanks, each hand-applied and per- fectly spaced, are a Tom Balding signature … undoubtedly, few other craf smen could pull this of . T e exacting craf smanship is a Balding hallmark, distilled in his motto: "T e worth of a piece should be reckoned by the skill expended upon its design and manufacture rather than by the opulence of its materials." attributed to Carl Fabergé, 1870 In addition to bits and spurs, the com- pany has been making engraved bracelets for more than 25 years. Add to that the custom bit trophies, spur trophies and buckles plus earrings, necklaces, scarf slides and keychains … well, chances are you can f nd a Tom Balding product to suit any customer in your store — not only the discerning reiner, cutter, barrel racer or polo player. Talk to horsemen and women about Tom Balding's work, and you'll readily see it's revered with danged-near cult-like adulation: T e company's Facebook page has nearly 17,000 "Likes" and a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. Tom Balding's personal page has nearly 5,000 Facebook friends. And yes; my f rst impression was correct: He's an avid mountain biker as well as an accomplished horseman, and just this past year, he bested some young locals about half his age in a grueling race. He shrugs his shoulders and grimaces a bit. "I think they're gunning for me this year," he says. That's to be expected when a guy is always far ahead of the competition. (307) 672-8459; tombalding.com Tom Balding spurs, shown here in a custom version with his signature stainless steel dots, are as functional as they are artistic. 0314 MnfProfile TomBalding.indd 17 2/21/14 11:43 AM