One of the worst things about living in Tuscaloosa (besides the immense heat and massive bugs in the summer) is the fact that there are NO tack shops in town, unless you count Tractor Supply, which I don’t. It is basically an hour long drive to the nearest one, and there are pretty much only two options, Carousel Tack Shoppe and Alabama Blue Ribbon Tack.
Side note: I have yet to go to Alabama Blue Ribbon Tack, but that will eventually happen, so stay tuned for that review.
Carousel Tack Shoppe:
5090 Cahaba Valley Rd, Birmingham, AL 35242
4.6/5 stars on Google Reviews
Going through the reviews prior to picking which tack store to go to, I noted that there were only about three negative one star reviews. The rest were all 5 stars. One of the negative reviews was mostly peeved about the store only selling non-Western apparel:
“The store was nothing but English tack. Nothing western related at all. Over priced stuf. The owner was very disrespectful. She used vulgar language, talking on the phone with someone, and didn’t even close the door. Whether it’s her shop or not, she showed my boyfriend and I that she was NOT business material.
The shop is too small, my boyfriend is tall, and stock, had a hard time getting around amongst the stuff the was practically thrown on the floors.
I’d never go back, especially since the shop is only focused in ONE thing. Dressage, racing, and English tack.”
Now that I have been in the store, I would like to set the record straight. The store is definitely not too small. It’s packed to the brim with tack and riding clothes, and that is just the way it should be in order for non-online tack stores to operate. It DOES only have English tack, but I was not surprised since that was included in the website description. (It pays wonders to read about the description of stores before complaining about them). Additionally, the owner was INCREDIBLY NICE and answered approximately 25 questions from me. However, that being said, everyone has good days and bad, so we will leave that alone. Mostly I wanted to point out that they seemed mad about the fact that only English tack was sold. A little ridiculous on that point, but oh well.
Most of the reviews ranged from:
Carousel is my all time favorite tack shop in Alabama! I never go anywhere else. EXCEPTIONAL customer service, time and attention. Rita, Molly, Martha, and Linda are always so helpful and friendly. If they do not have your size or color in stock of what you need, they will be happy to order it for you! I can’t wait to go back. They make me want to pull up a chair and just hang out!
Carousel is my go to tack shop when I need something for me or my horses. Rita is always so helpful. They have a good selection and at reasonable prices.
I can attest to how nice the owner was. I explained that I had finally made the trek out to her store and how much I had missed being in a physical tack room instead of scouring Smartpak or Dover’s site. The owner was incredibly nice and told me to take as much time as I wanted and helped me locate things I needed. I am pretty sure I asked about 24 questions and kept bothering her every time she went back to her office. She did not seem to mind a bit!
The prices seemed to be pretty consistent with items I found online with the added bonus of not having to pay any shipping. You might not find blockbuster deals like the massive 50% off sales some sites have, but I did notice BOGO 50% off on show shirts and additional 20% off select breeches, so there are sales!
The store has a really good variety of items in different sizes, colors, and brands. After reading reviews, it also appears that if they do not have something you need, they can order it for you. The owner took a phone call while I was browsing around and I heard her discussing the best brand and sizing of boots since she was having a difficult time finding boots to fit a customer. I was pretty impressed with how accurately she knew the sizing of the customer and the amount of time she spent with a representative trying to find something that would fit!
The store had everything from bits, to horsey knick knacks, to breeches, so they encompassed a pretty wide range of items. Notable brands were Ariat, Tailored Sportsman, Ovation, Fleck, Trainers Choice, One K, etc. They did NOT have Romfh breeches (which I always look for because I love them), but I do not really have the budget for a brand new pair, so I was a little relieved. The only thing I wish they had more of were treats. They had three different treats: Mrs. Pastures, the German Horse Muffins, and the Manna Pro Peppermint treats, but I was hoping that they had a couple of more options.
2 stock ties:
-Ovation Stock Tie in white, untied: $15.99
-Ovation Dry Tex Stock Tie in white, untied: $21.99
A quick google search showed that I got these both a couple of dollars cheaper than most retailers carried them for.
A hoof oil brush for a barnmate: $2.99
2 packs of Hawthorne’s Hoof Pack: $2.99/ea
-I got this for emergency purposes and to bring on the road in case anything happens at a show, clinic, etc.
1 bottle Hawthorne’s Pine Tar: $7.99
-The pony has on shoes! A new development, but I want to make sure his hooves stay nice and hard, and I am still trying to get rid of an annoyingly persistent thrush, so we will see how this works. It gets great reviews, so I’m pretty optimistic!