MADE IN KERN COUNTY: Emporium Western Store

Posted at 5:55 PM, Feb 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-18 23:40:16-05

There’s a cowboy spirit alive in Kern County, it comes from the farmers, ranchers and rodeo riders that span generations. So, where do they go to get all the gear they need from hats to boots? Emporium Western Store, a store that's been around since 1909.

23ABC's Tim Calahan met Stephen Goldwater whose family has been involved in the emporium since 1928. He said that his grandfather bought it when he was 19 years old.

"I think the thing that makes it special is the product which fits the Kern County western life style with ranching and farming and rodeos," Goldwater said. "We think over the years it’s been the service to the customer. It’s very important to us to give great customers service, and get to know our customers. 

Watch The Behind The Scenes and Making of Emporium Western Store.


Behind the scenes of Made In Kern County: Emporium Western Store with Tim Calahan 23ABC.

Posted by 23ABC Bakersfield on Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Legendary service dating back to the turn of the century. Goldwater's grandfather Isaac Rubin, purchased the store just one year before the great depression. 

Goldwater says it was his grandfathers work enthic and commitment to the business that allowed him to weather many financial storms. 

And while most aspects of the business have adapted to modern times, Goldwater said that they haven’t forgotten  their roots — more specifically, their boots. 

Goldwater said, "People come in and go wow, is that all the boots you have? We have 2000 more pair of boots in the back room in boxes. 

In fact it’s their number one seller.

A close second—and something unique to the Emporium Western Store, their selection of cowboy hats. 

”They can create their own shape,” Goldwater said.

A hat maker, designing and molding your cowboy hat to it’s perfect fit all by hand. 

And that love for the service, and lifestyle — is what kept their most famous customer coming back, time and time again. 

Goldwater said that he remembers his father telling him the story about how Buck Owens' loyalty to the Emporium Western began. 

”Buck came into the store one day, and told my dad that he had a gig in LA," Goldwater said.

"My dad said, 'Well what are you going to wear?' and Buck said, 'I don’t know, I really don’t have much.' So my dad said, 'Let me outfit you,'" Goldwater said.

"My dad said that's ok, I'll outfit you and some day when you can pay for it, you come in and pay me," Goldwater said of his dad.

Making good on his word—that led Buck to become a frequent customer, even during the height of his career. 

A commitment to shopping local, that he exercised up until his final days. 

Goldwater said one of the last places Buck was seen alive was at the Emporium Western Store.

Goldwater said that he realizes that this is more than just another western store—a place where Kern County history can be remembered, while celebrating the wild side of our roots.