New Downtown shop has Western inspiration

Owners of Kats Country Korner are horse enthusiasts
By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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Horses have always been an important part of life for Kat Stewart, co-owner of Kats Country Korner with her husband, Bob. The store opened last week in Downtown Auburn. ?I?ve been riding horses my whole life and owned horses my whole life,? Stewart said Monday. ?So I?ve always had a huge interest there.? The Stewarts live in Foresthill where they have two horses and do a lot of trail riding. They moved to the foothills from the Bay Area. ?I was a partner on a large horse ranch ? 125 acres,? Stewart said. ?We had a covered arena and we gave lessons and boarded about 100 horses. It has the largest covered arena in San Mateo County.? The couple?s new retail venture makes the most of their background. The shop carries a mix of Western-style clothing, boots, artwork, furniture, decorative items and jewelry. Stewart?s journey to opening the shop started with selling items online. ?I met a man who had two stores in Los Angeles and he retired. ? I bought boots, shirts, vests and horsehair belts from him,? she said. Decorative items in the store were hand-picked by Stewart. The wine barrel tables and planters are made locally. ?I actually went to garage sale and the lady who was having it had the wine barrel furniture in the garage,? Stewart said. ?I saw it and asked about it, and mentioned that if I ever opened a store, I?d love to have it there. ? Then when I decided to open the store, I got in touch with them and they were happy to be able to (place the furniture in the store).? There are numerous pottery and equine pieces. ?Horse people are generally nuts about that kind of stuff,? she said. Among her finds are items by artists Dorothy Kindell and Kay Finch, who were creating pottery and ceramics in the 1940s and 1950s. ?They were California potters. I love vintage California pottery, too,? Stewart said. Raku horses are another favorite she?s added to the shelves. A clothing rack near the front of the store is filled with boot-cut jeans, all selected with the comfort of the horseback rider in mind. ?As a horseback rider, I?m not going to buy a $100 pair of jeans to go riding,? she said. ?When I go to garage sales and thrift stores, I look for jeans that horseback riders like. I?m also in the process in working out a contract with Wrangler. They have a line of jeans for men and women that is very popular with the riders.? Browsers will also find horsehair belts, unique jewelry items and decorative soaps. Still to arrive are horsehair dog collars and hand lotion on a stick that riders can put in their saddlebag. Future plans include selling artworks on consignment. ?I?d like to find some local artists with a Western or rustic theme or dog stuff because most people with horses also have dogs,? Stewart said. Next door at Ro-Sham-Bo boutique, owner Jessica Woods is happy to have more retail on the block. ?I think it?s great to fill up the empty spaces ? and it creates more foot traffic,? she said. ?Also it?s something that?s unique. She has her vintage items as well. So we both have stores with vintage flair.? A motivating factor in Stewart?s decision to open the store was the death of a close friend and then a family member. ?Finally, at the age of almost 60, I have come to realize how short and precious life is,? she said in an email. ?On my deathbed, I doubt very seriously if I?ll regret not having cleaned the house more!? Choosing the location for the shop just made sense. ?I love Auburn, the whole old-time feel of the town,? she said. ?I love looking out the window at the historical buildings. I knew the minute we walked in the door, that this was going to be our store. ? I would love to get feedback from customers as to their needs, and what they would like to see in Auburn. I do plan to get more women?s clothing; casual but cute T-shirts, with horses on them of course, and the rhinestone Western-inspired shirts. Our clothing is definitely geared toward the Western or trail rider.? ----------- Kats Country Korner Where: 925 Lincoln Way, Downtown Auburn Phone: (530) 888-1358 Open: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily (schedule to be adjusted at later date) Email: Website in process