Rod’s celebrates 40 years of providing everything for you and your horse
When you hear of the year 1976, what comes to mind? Do you think back to the premiere of Charlie’s Angels or Rocky? Maybe you remember the Cincinnati Reds winning the World Series or Jimmy Carter winning the presidential election. When I think of the year 1976, my initial thought is that I wasn’t even born yet. Then I remember a few of my favorite things were born that year such as the premier of The Muppets, Big Red, and of course my favorite Western store, Rod’s Western Palace.
Rod’s Western Palace was indeed established in 1976 by Dan Evans. Still in Columbus, Ohio they have become one of the leading Western apparel and tack stores in the country. I was privileged to have the opportunity to sit down with the President of Rod’s, Mr. Scott Hartle, as he reflected over the past 40 years.
“I started working here in 1976 when we were just setting the store up—I was in college and I worked for Rod then,” he talked as he looked over my left shoulder toward pictures behind me. “I helped stock the store and then I worked on the sales floor—and learned how to run the register.”
Upon graduation, Scott worked with his dad’s advertising business which handled Rod’s advertising at the time. Years later he returned to the store to serve as the assistant manager from 1981-84 and later rose to serve as president in April of 1988 where he gained the opportunity to become a partner with Dan. Years later, Dan’s portion of the business sold to Scott’s father in 1990 leaving the father/son duo running Rod’s Western Palace.
Dan Evans knew what he was doing by geographically placing his store directly north of the state fairgrounds. “He knew about the horse industry and we rode cutting horses together down at his place with Chuck Smith, his trainer.” Heavily involved with OQHA, Dan had the idea of a Western store right here in Columbus, Ohio and near the annual All American Quarter Horse Congress which he helped land on the map. He deserves credit for contributing to the highly anticipated event we know of today. When Congress first started, 50 years ago, it was only a weekend show. Now, Congress is an annual month-long highlight for Rod’s. It has contributed to some of their fondest memories and friendships.
Though a lot has changed over the past 40 years, Rod’s has managed to continue to support “True Western Living.” Keeping on top of trends and evolving styles, they uphold cowboy traditions by honoring the cowboy lifestyle. Hartle said, “I think to me, the reason I got interested in Western was the cowboy image and things like the wide open spaces, freedom, liberty… honor, independence. Those things you think of when you grow up watching Westerns on T.V.”
As we look ahead to the future, Rod’s will continue to develop social media platforms, digital marketing with emails, and of course their online image. Rod’s has had a website since the early 90’s. Phone and mail-in orders continue to decline as the customers prefer shopping online. While these advancements are very useful and implemented daily, there is something special about the idea of a traditional, down-home way of living and appreciation for the Western life style. Not just through technology but the company has grown physically as well. Rod’s has evolved to cover nearly 80,000 square feet today. The stores and retail space make up roughly 25,000 square feet of the total while the remainder is dedicated to warehouses and office space. In all, they can be found at one location which stretches across six acres on Silver Drive.
If you have stopped by the store, you know just what I am talking about. It’s easy to order online from Rods.com but if you have never visited their store, they would love you to come visit the next time you’re around central Ohio. Besides, you can’t hear the floors creak and smell the leather from your computer!
“We really appreciate all of the customer support over the years and their loyalty. We look forward to serving their needs in the future.” After 40 years, Rod’s Western Palace is proud to still be family owned and operated as they continue to be your source for everything Western.
This image was taken of the first Rod’s booth at the All American Quarter Horse Congress in 1976.
This picture was taken at the 40th Anniversary Hog Roast. It was an event to thank employees, here shows Mr. Hartle and his wife celebrating.