As the Folsom Pro Rodeo celebrates its 62nd anniversary this week, one local business celebrates right along with it. Handley’s Western Wear has been dressing local rodeo fans since the first time the event raised the dust in Folsom.

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Operated by family from generation to generation, Handley’s Western Wear is an icon in the city. Today, the business is currently owned and operated by members of the Handley family, cousins Grace Rittenhouse and Julie Spitler, who offer the same honest customer service and hospitality that began the day the doors opened in 1961.

Handley’s was founded by family patriarchs Donella and Chet Handley. Rittenhouse and Spitler are two of five grandchildren and are proud of their family legacy. The western store appropriately opened its doors the same year the Folsom Pro Rodeo saw its first cowboys in competition in the city. 

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Chet, who served in World War 2 and Donella, who was a bookkeeper at the time, decided to open a mercantile designed to serve “the working man,” at the time. From there, the rest is history and the tradition of serving community carries today.

Back in the day, Handley’s was what was known as a working man’s store, but through the years it has become one of the best-known western apparel stories in the region. The store serves both men and women, not only dressing them when the rodeo rolls around but all year long.

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While the Folsom Pro Rodeo provided a boost of business for Handley’s each year, they continue to give back to the event when it rolls around as a longtime sponsor and the “go to” place for fans to get all their rodeo gear from the quality boots to the patriotic shirts and of course, the cowboy and cowgirl hats.

“We have always been a sponsor and continue our grandparents tradition of sponsoring and also having a booth at the Folsom Rodeo,” said Spitler.“Rodeo is our favorite time of the year, we love getting all the community Rodeo ready with boots, hats, belts, buckles and Wranglers. It’s so much fun watching the Community join together and celebrate America together for 4th of July.”

When you walk into  Handley’s, you will also be greeted by a friendly welcome and a hello by staff. The layout and the appearance of the store hasn’t changed much through the years with merchandise well stocked from floor to ceiling and plenty of memorabilia collected over the decades on the walls and around the service counter. 

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Personal service is still the top priority of the store. While many businesses have gone to point of sale computer systems, you can expect to still see sales being hand written at the counter here seven days a week, and the customers love everything about it.

Cousins Julie Spitler (left) and Grace Rittenhouse continue the tradition started by their grandparents back in 1961 by operating Handley’s Western Wear in Folsom.

“We have stayed in business for 62 years because of the this great community and support,” added Spitller. “The Folsom Rodeo is one of the fun events that brings so many amazing people and families into our store around rodeo time. Truly the Folsom Rodeo brings the whole town and joining towns together.”

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This Wednesday, June 28, Handley’s will be extending their hours to host a Rodeo Volunteer Party in their parking lot from 5-8 p.m. Partnering with neighboring Tonno’s Bar and Grill, the event will feature food, spirits 20% off everything in the store. The public is welcome to attend.

If you don’t get the opportunity to pay them a visit at their retail location of 314 East Bidwell Street, you can visit Handley’s Wear at their booth during al three days of the upcoming Folsom Pro Rodeo this Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

To learn more about Handley’s Western Wear, check out their website at www.handleysworkandwesternwear.com or just visit them at 314 East Bidwell St. in Folsom seven days a week. To keep up with news on the upcoming Folsom Pro Rodeo, check in with the Folsom Chamber of Commerce or visit www.folsomprorodeo.com.

Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan