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A peek inside Western-themed wonderland of Wild Wild West shop

Married couple are owners and designers of Wild Wild West in Innisfil, which has seen an increasingly urban, younger clientele

If you've ever driven along Yonge Street in Innisfil, just north of Highway 89, you've surely seen the notable Wild Wild West shop with the large red cowboy boot on its sign. 

The shop has been there since 1999, owned and operated by husband and wife Kevin Kent and Joanna Rycroft, who live on the property in the house adjacent to the store. 

Inside is a Western-themed wonderland, full of Western apparel, from cowboy hats to boots, and belts to buckles, with a variety of styles and products to choose from.  

Kent and Rycroft not only sell products, but they also design them as well. 

"Most of the hats and belts we design, they are all our brand," said Kent. "We've been designing them since 2004."

The pair pride themselves on their hat and belt designs. One of their belts even made an appearance on one of the main characters in an episode of the new Netflix Western show, Yellowstone. 

There is a real art to designing a cowboy hat, with various ways to style them to give it a specific look and feel. In order to create the desired look, the hats may be blocked, trimmed and even painted. 

"We do some of the work here now," said Kent, who hand burns some of the hats' edges with a propane torch to give them a unique look. "It's not easy to do, but I've done it so many times, and we shape everything."

"It's like having a runway of hats and visualizing the colour and the band and everything that goes with it and you go through it until you get what you think is perfect, and then you sit back and go 'Wow I created that, that's awesome,'" said Rycroft. 

When asked where they get their design inspiration from, they say it just comes naturally, but oftentimes comes from their customers. 

There are shelves upon shelves of cowboy boots inside the store from brands the couple knows and trusts including Justin, Tony Lama, Nocana, Ariat, and Old West Boots. 

Rycroft says sometimes customers will come in unsure of what they are looking for, but she and Kent are there to help. 

"We don't want anybody leaving here with a goofy hat," laughed Rycroft. "When they are so thrilled and happy with the way they look, that makes it all worth it."

Prior to the pandemic, the shop was open six days a week, but with closures, staffing and supply chain issues, they are now only open two days a week.  

"Everything's changed for us because of COVID," Kent said. "Staffing and closures were an issue."

Kent says the only reason they were able to stay in business is thanks to their loyal customers and being well established already.

Before moving to Innisfil, the couple lived in the city and had their shop on Queen Street in the Beaches. It was originally Kent's store; he met Rycroft one day when she came in looking to purchase a pair of cowboy boots. And the rest is history. 

The fell in love with the beauty of Innisfil, which is why they decided to relocate. 

"We always wanted a house and property all in one," said Rycroft. 

"It was a different kind of person (customer) down there (Toronto), so when we moved here, I think I was inspired by my surroundings," said Kent of his designs.

He notes there has been a gradual change in Western style over the years, from the more classic Johnny Cash look to a more "Shady Brady" California/Urban Cowboy vibe. 

They say now they see a lot younger, urban clientele coming through the door, many inspired by famous singers and artists' styles. 

"Everybody who comes in here is happy," said Kent. 

Wild Wild West gets customers from all over the area, many of whom have become regulars, but their main sales have always come from rodeos with their mobile shops. 

The couple has pop-up trailers, filled with products to sell, that would travel to various rodeos, events and concerts around Ontario.

Their next big event is the Stevensville Rodeo, happening later this month. 

Wild Wild West is located at 5872 Highway 11 (Yonge Street) in Churchill and is open every Wednesday and Thursday from 1 to 7 p.m. 

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Natasha Philpott

About the Author: Natasha Philpott

Natasha is the Editor for BradfordToday and InnisfilToday. She graduated from the Media Studies program at The University of Guelph-Humber. She lives in Bradford with her husband, two boys and two cats.
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