Robbie Acevedo would have saved a lot of money at the beginning of his professional rodeo career had he been able to purchase equipment, such as ropes, locally instead of on the internet.
He also believes he would have benefited from an outpost dedicated to helping young men and women enter the profession, whether for bull riding, barrel racing or cattle roping.
Acevedo and his wife Jackie Acevedo hope their new retail business Rockin R Hats in Centralia can fill those needs for the next generation of rodeo competitors in Lewis County and across Southwest Washington. The two Chehalis natives opened the store in April and stocked it with everything from hats and boots to rosin and ropes.
Robbie Acevedo, who serves on the board of directors for the Southwest Washington Rodeo Association, said he wants his family business to be more than just a storefront where local riders can get a hands-on look at expensive gear before making a purchase.
“If you can’t help the kids coming up as the future of rodeo, they aren’t going to see how to get into the sport or learn how to do things the correct way,” Robbie Acevedo said. “I really like that I can give the kids that resource, if not teach them myself. A lot of people have told me they wished there was somewhere they could swing a rope before buying it — our motto is that if it’s rodeo, we’re your store.”
Speaking Tuesday following a ceremonial ribbon cutting hosted by Centralia-Chehalis Chamber of Commerce, Robbie Acevedo said he hopes to hold clinics for children involved in organizations such as the Northwest Junior Rodeo Association. Jackie Acevedo added her desire for local sponsors to help make the clinics free to attend so that more kids can be exposed to the world of roping, barrel racing and more.
“We’ve talked about holding a roping clinic here,” Jackie Acevedo said. “Maybe a beginning bull riding clinic, too, all just for the kids. We want them to be able to come learn about the junior rodeo programs, too.”
She stopped to gesture at her youngest son Kash, who sat next to her on the front counter. “He’ll get into it in another year or so.”
The store sponsors professional bull rider Chase Dougherty, a 21-year-old from Portland who won more than $342,000 en route to finishing second in the 2018 world rankings as measured by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. He is one of many professionals the Acevedos have connections with through their own riding careers as well as the SWRA.
Robbie Acevedo said that during their first two months in operation, they’ve seen a positive response from a younger clientele that comes in to check out the hats hanging on the walls, pick up supplies for their own animals and ask questions about different ropes and rosins.
“A lot of people have told me how glad they are to have a place where they can come to get a feel for their gear before buying it,” he said. “They’re coming in to learn about different styles and things firsthand instead of off the internet, like I did the hard way.”