TRAVERSE CITY — Gary Taylor was born and raised a country boy.
His country roots run as deep as an oak tree’s, and Taylor spent much of his childhood working and driving tractor on his grandfather’s 30-acre farm in southern Michigan.
“I’ve since graduated from a country boy to a country boy who likes Harleys,” said Taylor, 56.
Taylor’s background translated into a new business venture. He and three friends just opened Ironhorse Western and Cycle Wear at 4125 Cedar Run Road, Suite A, in Traverse City, an effort that blends Taylor’s interests in country-style clothes with motorcycle clothing, accessories and leathers.
The shop’s goal is to offer a diverse line of country and biker-themed clothes that are affordable to everyday folk, Taylor said.
“If someone wants to come in for a $19 pair of jeans, I’ve got them,” Taylor said. “If someone wants a $60 pair of jeans, I have them.
“We sell everything from socks to blue jeans, boots, hats and motorcycle accessories, too,” Taylor said. “Smoky Mountain boots, Durango boots. Our boots start at $20 bucks and they go up to $500.”
Taylor previously managed a local country music radio station for four years, briefly worked at the Record-Eagle in advertising and also operated several businesses. He’s well-known in the community for helping organize the charitable Make-A-Wish biker ride. He partnered with friends Lee and Pat Winfrey and Shellie Milhone to open the Iron horse.
The business partners gutted a storefront once occupied by a tattoo parlor and motorcycle shop. They remodeled with a western theme complete with polished floors and wood-covered walls “to give it an old-time feel.”
“Anyone who was in here before will be able to tell immediately,” Taylor said. “There’s quite a difference. It’s like anything. If you just throw enough money at it, it will clean itself up.”
The store emphasizes American-made products.
“I think we are going to have a niche,” Taylor said. “There are places that sell motorcycle leather, and there are places that sell country western stuff, but I don’t think to the extent we are. We’ve got 1,300-square feet and it’s cram-packed full. We’ve got a little bit for everybody.”