Established in 1898 Burns has been making saddles since horses were the only way of getting around.
Salina, Utah is home to the oldest same-family-owned western retailer in the world. Burns Saddlery caters to real cowboys and people with cowboy aspirations.
Back in 1876, Miles Lamonie Burns, opened a leather-working shop near Capitol Reef in Loa. A leather craftsman and blacksmith, he specialized in harnesses. He even did repairs for the infamous Butch Cassidy.
Miles turned the business over to his son Vivian in 1898 who moved the store to Salina. Vivian added his own innovations to the business when he invented pack bags, a strapping arrangement that improved on the diamond-hitch technique. It proved so sturdy the design was adopted by the U.S. government.
Launa Albrecht is the marketing director for Saddlery and she says, “As the times changed, the store changed, evolving to suit the needs of whatever was popular.” As horses gave way to cars, Burns catered to a new industry. Vivian’s son, Vern, patented his invention—the Pik Pocket. The item hooked to the back of a pickup seat so when the seat back moved forward, the pocket opened to provide storage space.
Dan Burns and his wife Donna made Indian blanket seat covers in the eighties. They became famous all over the world and people still ask for them. They no longer manufacture the durable seat covers and the store in Salina has returned more to its cowboy roots.
Burns Saddlery now specializes in custom work for saddles and cowboy hats. Matt Wanner is their head saddle maker and he will design and make whatever a customer can envision. Launa says, “Matt is a beast when he gets into the zone.” He is also a gifted artist and does design sketches for custom silver work as well.
Cowboys can be picky about their hats and Burns has Riley Wanlass to cater to their needs. He is a master hatter and allows customers to help with a design and handpick their materials.
The Salina store along with a location in Lehi are real horseperson stores. Two new locations, in Park City and Carmel, California, opened as Burns Cowboy Shops. The new shops appeal more to people who “love the spirit of the West, but are not necessarily cowboys,” according to Launa.
The new shops offer exotic boots, fine leathers and precious metal works. Burns has been around a long time, but they still know what it takes to please their customers from ranchhands to Beverly Hills highrollers. §