Sunday, October 22nd, 2017

A Tradition of Service

A new generation will celebrate the new direction it has given to one of Clarendon’s oldest businesses when Saye’s holds its open house this Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Katie and Josh Fetsch and Savannah Askew, with their kids in tow, are the latest members to operate the family store started by T.M. Little in 1910. The business, now branded as Saye’s Tack Store, carries all types of merchandise that a cowboy needs – ropes, grooming supplies, horse shoeing tools, cinches, blankets, pads, leather goods, and more.

“It’s pretty special,” said Katie, who represents the fifth generation to run the business. “I feel like our family is really close, and it’s nice to continue something that has been in the family and give it new life.”

The Askew family carrying on a tradition of service to Clarendon. Courtesy Photo / Jody Green

What began as Little Mercantile Co. has changed its offerings to adapt to changing times and the needs of each era. Mr. Little’s daughter Emma May introduced a beauty salon – possibly the first in Clarendon – to the business early in its history. She married Carl Saye; and during the Depression, the store moved from its original home, where the Cowboy Church is today, to its present location at 219 S. Kearney between the Burton Memorial Library and Henson’s. At that time, the name was changed to Saye’s Clothing Store, and the business became so varied and carried such a stock, that it operated in its current location as well as occupying the two buildings that make up the city library today.

Another generational change came when Emma and Carl’s son, Tommie Saye, added a photography studio to the business.

Katie’s father, Danny Askew, says the store made an impression on him the first time he came in as a college student in 1974.

“I remember well Tom and his momma following me around like a pair of hunting dogs,” Danny said. “It occupied all three buildings, and you weren’t leaving without buying something.”

After the death of his parents in the early 1970s, Tommie and his wife, Lucy, continued to operate the business but downsized by the end of that decade, selling the north two buildings to the city. The couple eventually shifted the merchandise more towards Western wear, a trend that was continued by their daughter Terry Askew, who took over the business in 1994.

“Each generation changed it a little to fit their time,” Lucy says.

Terry kept the store open regularly through 2010 before going to work full time at the Best Western Red River Inn. It was still opened though for holidays and special occasions.

“If you consider that T.M.’s mother was with him when he started the store, then we’ve had seven generations walking those floors,” Terry said. “I just love it. I couldn’t be happier that this generation is making it their own.”

Lucy also said that it’s amazing to have this many generations keeping a business going, and she loves how Katie, Josh, and Savannah have repurposed Mr. Little’s original fixtures.

“It’s really great even though it’s completely different,” Lucy said. “The hangers that used to hold dresses now have belts and lariats. And it’s just part of the family history that your children grow up in that store.”

The tack idea for the business really came about last fall, Katie said. Now Flying A Tack is the family wholesale business that travels to Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma to service retailers and trade shows. Saye’s is the local storefront for that service.

“There are a lot of people who need these items,” Katie said. “Our local cowboys are awesome, and we love the cowboy community.”

The family invites everyone to Saye’s open house. Activities will include a roping dummy completion, and St. Mary’s Catholic Church will be providing concessions. For information, see their ad in this week’s issue.

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