Like a ranch or a family-run farm, it’s a little off the beaten track. But on a little road called Merriam Lane in a mostly industrial part of town, it’s pretty easy to spot Nigro’s Western Store.
Just look for the horse up there.
Step through the doors of this rustic store at 3320 Merriam Lane and you’ll be greeted by the smell of leather. It’s a smell that David Nigro Jr. loves.
“The smell of leather is one of the greatest in the world,” he says.
“I used to show a lot of cattle,” he says, pointing to a neat lineup of cowboy boots against a wall. “Now I’m hustling cowboy boots.”
His father, known to the family as David Senior, and his uncle Tony are second-generation owners of the store, which has been in business since 1956. Their father started the business and kept his hand in it until his death in 2010.
David Junior is the third generation to take interest in the business, and he’s found his niche, designing specialty cowboy boots. He holds up a pair of deep green and black boots with initials emblazoned on them — boots some lucky guy will be married in, he explains.
David Junior’s mother, Anita, says the family works in harmony in the store — a destination for many visitors, though she explains that the family would like more people to know about the shop she clearly treasures.
She’s particularly proud of the women’s section. While Western blouses and jeans sell well, fashionistas will find everything from stylish clothing for the office to pretty skirts and dresses for a night out on the town.
But look past the shelves filled with colorful jewelry, and you’ll be reminded what this store was founded on. You won’t find lace boot toppers at most department stores.
“Where we differ from the big sporting goods stores is in customer service,” Anita Nigro says, pointing out a variety of jeans and button-down shirts in the men’s department. “Men will come in here to find a size or brand of jeans we stock that they can’t find anywhere else.”
Across the store, her husband is talking shop with his brother.
“The family gets along just fine,” she says. “If you come in on any given day, we’re all doing our own thing.”
She nods toward her husband.
“He’s really the boss of the whole operation, but we don’t let him know that,” she says quietly, and a grin brightens her face.
The two are clearly pleased that one of their three children has taken an interest in the business that’s dear, not only to the family, but to their loyal fans.
“We have a great customer base,” says David Senior. “They’re like family. And over the years, we start seeing the kids and even grandkids of our customers. Come in here on a Saturday, and they’ll likely be sitting around in a circle, shooting the breeze.”
Benches and chairs are, in fact, arranged in a circle that’s tucked between boots and belts — both big sellers at this store. A nearby shelf holds men’s colognes with names like “Old West” and “Outlaw.”
“People come in on Saturdays and bring us food,” says David Senior. “We’re kind of a like a bar. Just a place for people to hang out.”
Nigro’s Western Store
3320 Merriam Lane, Kansas City, Kan.
Contact: 913-262-7500; nigroswesternstore.com
Hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday