They built their business around bikers and their insatiable appetite for leather goods.
Now, more than six months later, Richard and Louanna Wilmoth, owners of Rolling Horses Leather Apparel and Accessories, have grown from hawking their chaps and leather pants to bikers who frequented the historic Ox Bow Saloon, to a new shop, which opened last August in Star Valley.
The Wilmoths sell a wide variety of high-quality leather motorcycle and Western wear, including pants, belts, gloves, shirts, jackets, vests, and dressy leathers, and T-shirts.
The Wilmoths, in the near future, will offer non-leather apparel, and motorcycle parts, service and repairs.
"We don't order a lot of any one thing," Louanna said, "But if we don't have it we can generally find it for our customers."
Their special niche is selling colorful leathers, like pink hides, which many women favor in place of traditional black and brown hues.
Louanna creates patches and contracts with a local seamstress for alterations. They provide lay away and shipping.
"We have customer service people can't get elsewhere with our fittings and meeting customer needs," Louanna said.
The shop is the Wilmoths' first venture into clothing retail. Louanna has a background in sales and customer service. Before getting into the leather business, She worked for Amtrak and Sprint, and as a truck driver. Richard also drove trucks, and for a number of years, did repairs out of his house.
"If you break it, I can fix almost anything," he said.
The Wilmoths came to the Rim country from southern Oregon to be closer to Richard's mother, Leona, who lives in Pine. They arrived here during the Christmas holidays of 2002.
The couple do most of their marketing at motorcycle events around the state, though their primary service area is northern Arizona.
They plan on, however, widening their reach in the coming months, having already participated in a motorcycle run in Tucson. They will be going to another in Eloy this weekend.
The Wilmoths are active, which helps them stay in touch with customers and up-to-date with events, in the Modified Motorcycle Association and the American Brotherhood Aimed Toward Education motorcycle groups. They take their inventory on the road an average of three times a month, but sometimes they are at an event every weekend. They also do a lot of benefits.
"We can meet all riders' needs," Richard said of both bikers and horsemen.
Every piece of leather that leaves the shop is weatherproof, Louanna added.
In addition to clothing and basic accessories, Rolling Horses also carries jewelry, saddle bags, clocks, hand-carved wooden bikes and candles. They also consign leathers.
"We want to build up our inventory to fill the store," Richard said.
They look forward to buying a specialized computer and sewing machine that will allow them to make any kind of patch.
"Our prices are reasonable," Louanna said. "We have premium, high-quality leather. I love leather myself and believe everyone should be able to afford it."
Rolling Horses is at 256000 E. Highway 260, Star Valley. Heading east, look for the building with a big star on it, turn right, then take the left drive up the hill. Winter hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday. The Wilmoths also take appointments. For more information, call (928) 970-1473.