BILLINGS, Mont. – There is certainly something for everyone at this year’s NILE Stock Show and Rodeo. Aside from all the livestock and horse sales, there are even more opportunities to “shop ‘til you drop.” Vendors will be set up all across the Metra Park grounds in Billings, Mont., offering just about anything a little heart could desire.
Last year the NILE offered a condensed tradeshow for the first time. The NILE Market coincides with the stock show’s busiest days and allows certain vendors, who really can’t be away from the ranch or their store front for the NILE’s entirety, the opportunity to present their goods to the public. The NILE market was a huge success in 2018, so it will be offered again from Oct. 17-19, 2019, at the Metra Exhibition Hall and the Montana Pavilion.
The NILE Tradeshow in the Expo Center and the Trading Post will continue as it has in the past with a mix of new and veteran vendors, many of whom are local Montana businesses. Vendors in these locations will be set up for the whole length of the NILE and everything from clothing to livestock equipment will be offered.
One such company, WesTrends, owned by Larry and Terry Shore of Norris, Mont., will once again have their 10X40-foot booth set up for the entire week of the NILE. Larry estimates WesTrends has had a booth at the NILE for the past 11 or 12 years, and every year the Shores look forward to bringing their quality cowboy hats and select western gear to the Northwest’s premier stock show and rodeo.
WesTrends can trace its beginnings back to when Larry worked in a western store in Bozeman, Mont., in 1975. His summer job sparked a passion so Larry and Terry opened their first store in Whitefish, Mont., in 1979 where they remained in business for 20 years. The storefront moved to another location in the Flathead Valley for a number of years, and then in 2006 an opportunity presented itself and WesTrends was transformed into a mobile store.
“We happened to be the Sundowner dealer at the time so we had Sundowner build us a show trailer and we started traveling,” explained Larry.
In 2007 the couple moved back to Norris with their now mobile western store and the plan was to just travel to various shows and fairs while using Norris as the home base. However, WesTrend’s loyal customers kept stopping by to purchase a new hat or to have their old one reshaped, so WesTrends Ranch Store was opened again.
“The store is located three miles out of the town of about 50 people, so it’s not your normal shopping experience,” Larry said with a chuckle.
While the storefront celebrates 40 years of being in business, Larry and Terry will be busy running their booth at the NILE. Their booth will feature an array of hats, mostly felt, from well-known companies like American and Resistol. No matter the budget, WesTrends will have a hat. Larry explained hats will range in price from $45 all the way up to $2,500.
Although hats will be the predominate merchandise in the booth, WesTrends will also offer a good display of jewelry and Tom Balding bits. There will be silk wild rags and scarfs slides, not to mention a plethora of hat bands and other hat-care products.
One thing that makes WesTrends unique is the fact they buy most of their hats in the raw stage, meaning after you purchase your new “lid,” Larry and Terry can custom fit it to your head while shaping it any way you choose.
A cowboy hat can say a lot about a person. It can indicate what region a person hails from, or even what kind of weather they mostly work in. The Shores understand that each person is unique and their cowboy hat should reflect that.
“That’s a big part of our appeal. We provide hats that work properly. They not only look good, but they stay on and are where they need to be when they need to be there,” stated Larry.
The WesTrends booth is one the cowboys and cowgirls better check out when they get to town for the NILE. Whether you are looking for a brand-new cowboy hat to wear to the rodeo, a new Tom Balding bit to add to the collection or you are on the hunt for some quality jewelry to complete your outfit, WesTrends will have what you need.