Manager’s Corner: Yvonne Pedigo, Buckhorn Saloon & Museum
Yvonne Pedigo’s past retail stints at the Disney Store and Universal Orlando prepped her well to handle her own store. However, it was a contact from her electronics company, which she owned and operated with her husband, Joe, which led to Pedigo’s current role at Buckhorn Saloon & Museum in San Antonio.
An electronics client knew of Yvonne’s history in retail. So when the retail manager at the Buckhorn opened in 2010, the client recommended Yvonne go for it. In 2012, she graduated to operations manager of the museum. She and her staff take pride in making the museum’s store — the Curio Store — as unique as possible.
How long has the saloon been in operation?
YP: The Buckhorn started in 1881. Our founder, Albert Friedrich, was a hunter that decorated his saloon with some of his taxidermy trophies. He also asked his friends to bring in their mounts and add them to the collection. Many cowboys passing through didn’t have money to buy drinks until the cowmen sold their cattle and paid them, so he traded beer and shots of whiskey for antlers, horns, and mounts. Mr. Friedrich also accepted mounts for payment. One hundred thirty-six years later, we now feature over 520 unique animal species in nine galleries. We are currently in our fifth location since 1881. The Buckhorn has been at four locations in downtown San Antonio and spent many years at the Lone Star Brewery just south of downtown. The Curio Store started back in 1920 due to visitors asking for souvenirs of our establishment. It was also a way for the Friedrichs to adapt to their business due to Prohibition. The original curio shop’s inventory included oddities including real armadillo baskets, Mexican blankets, and more! Mr. Friedrich claimed the Curio Store was the “world’s oddest store.” My team and I work hard to live up to the claim!
What is the interior like?
The interior of the Buckhorn at our current location was designed to re-create the Buckhorn of years ago. Our original back bar is prominently featured in the saloon. We use antique tables with cast iron bases in our café.
The curio store has large windows overlooking Houston Street. We have cream-colored walls and custom wooden fixtures to maintain the historic feel throughout the entire venue. There are gold-colored tin ceilings and wagon wheel lights illuminating the space. We even have a few taxidermy animals and rattlesnake rattle art on the walls in the curio store. Stepping into the Buckhorn is really taking a step back in time — if you ignore the televisions and margarita machines!
What are your peak seasons?
YP: With San Antonio being one of the country’s top tourist destinations, we are busiest during Texas’s Spring Break week, Fiesta — a 10-day flurry of parades, festivals, and other activities unique to San Antonio — Memorial Day through Labor Day, and again from Christmas to New Year’s.
YP: Our best-selling items are definitely our fantastic T-shirts. We partner with some exceptional vendors to work on our tee assortment. We like to try out new garments and mix our wealth of source material to create high-quality, lasting, tangible memories for our guests. Moreover, our personalized items are consistently top sellers. We carry personalized Texas Ranger badges to tie into our Texas Ranger Museum onsite. Sunburst Companies out of Rhode Island has been a longtime partner and is our source for these badges. Our guests love taking home these fun gifts for their children and grandchildren!
Where do you typically look for new products?
YP: Although we are almost 100 years old, we are constantly on the hunt for new products. We have cultivated relationships with our trusted vendors to keep our product mix unique and interesting. We attend IGES, TSSS and the Smoky Mountain Gift Show annually. These shows are usually the best sources for new vendors and products. We attend the Denver Market every few years to mix up our assortment. The Las Vegas Souvenir and Resort Gift Show is also one that we attend every few years. We work with some fantastic sales reps that are an integral part of our success. They help us differentiate ourselves and offer items our visitors will not find elsewhere.
How large is the store staff? Full-time/Part-time?
YP: We have a very small, passionate, and extremely dedicated team. During our non-peak times, our front-line team is generally two individuals working full-time hours with two more working part-time hours. During our peak season, we grow the team based upon our volume. We generally have three to six team members available. We try to cultivate relationships with our part-time team where they work for us when they are back in San Antonio during school breaks. I currently run the Curio Store as well as oversee the other areas of the museum. My front-line team and myself oversee the store’s operation.
How do you stay up to speed on trends and styles?
YP: I rely on my vendors to provide me with garments and items that are on-trend. I partner with my marketing director (a guru of style in her own right) and front-line team to get their feedback on which styles to adapt and integrate into our product mix.
Does the store carry anything out-of-the-ordinary?
YP: Being called “the world’s oddest store” is a title we take great pride in, and it is a constant challenge living up to our history. At the moment, our most unusual items are jumping beans (available seasonally), full-body jack-a-lope mounts, and our assortment of alligator souvenirs (back scratchers, necklaces, gator heads, etc.). We also have phenomenal non-firing replica guns and a staggering assortment of Bowie knives.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
YP: My joys in life are my husband, Joe, and my 4-year old son, Jack Rhys. I spend every second I can with my men! Our days are filled with Lego and Tinker Toy construction and lots of action cartoons on Netflix. Running a saloon has given me a deep appreciation for Texas craft beers and spirits. I like to try the newest offerings our great state creates. I also am a theme park fanatic and love spending my time enjoying Texas tourism!