BROOKSVILLE — Wild West meets Rebel South at the new Country Depot, "a unique and different country store," owner John Loetscher says, amid an assortment of themed home decor, apparel and accessories, collectibles and horse tack.
While a description paints a mishmash of goods, in truth the offering is just about anything imaginable turned out with a Western or Rebel motif.
A wild black bear holding a toilet paper roll? The foot-tall statue greets visitors at the door.
A shower curtain replicating the Rebel flag? It's among the place mats, throws and license plates of like depiction in the depot's Man Cave.
Opened April 1 at Cedar Wood Square just west of downtown, the shop brings together goods for which Loetscher, 50, found ready sales when he tested at flea markets in Homosassa and Ridge Manor.
"Brooksville has a lot to do with the Civil War," the Plant City native pointed out. "And we're Southern. It's just country. We knew that no stores had this kind of outlet."
A Spring Hill couple proved him right on a recent afternoon when the man grinned at the Rebel offerings. He said he usually goes to Gatlinburg, Tenn., to find such merchandise.
The man's wife said she collects "anything with bears," and Loetscher pointed out a pair of salt and pepper shakers in bear shapes and a table lamp with a bear as light standard.
Everything Rebel-themed is selling well, Loetscher said. Beyond the Man Cave is a rack of bikinis in flag fabric, or in camouflage pattern.
Women also are buying up Montana West brand concealed-weapon handbags. The faux leather bags — bling of sparkled beads or studs and fringe on the front — hold a hand-slide pocket on the back for easy access to a gun repository.
Also in what is called the self-defense category are stun guns — no license required — and all sorts of knives, a number disguised as something else, such as a handgun or cell phone. While Loetscher labels the defense and collectible nook "a guy's corner," he allows that a stun gun-pepper spray combo is offered in pink.
A new theme answering customer demand is Flo Made, from window decals to T-shirts and hats, the words printed over an outline of the state, paying tribute to anything of Florida origin.
A similar array of goods pays tribute to TV Western and Southern themes with which Loetscher grew up: Hoss Carter, Lorne Greene, Dukes of Hazzard, Route 66.
Authentic Wild West trappings are available for the horse crowd — trail and racing saddles, bridles and halters, many blinged with mock rhinestones and silver adornments, saddle leathers etched with stylized designs.
The owner credits friend Paula Frenette with assembling the horse tack. A rider herself, Frenette owned a tack shop in New England before moving to Florida.
Loetscher reigns, with Frenette often assisting, from a saloon bar the owner has replicated from the Old West. It's complete with a brass foot rail, a set-up of mock beer on the gleaming wood bar top, a back mirror and a spread of longhorns overhead.
All he needs is a 10-gallon hat to complete the picture. And he has a leaning stack of those in the Man Cave.
Contact Beth Gray at [email protected].