On The Road with Kemo Sabe

Roadhouse in Nashville

I couldn’t help but notice people staring at me in the airport. With every passing step, I could feel eyes following me—heads turning to get a second glance as if I was famous or something. I felt flattered, however, because I knew they were simply stopping to admire my western wear. While traveling to Nashville, I rocked my flower-embroidered Old Gringo cowboy boots and classic brown Stetson cowboy hat from Kemo Sabe. There’s a certain level of swagger that comes with this cowboy aesthetic and the getup undoubtedly causes some heads to turn.

This recent trip to Nashville was centered around Kemo Sabe’s five-day pop up that took place at White’s Mercantile on 12th Ave South (an iconic old gas station transformed into a charming and ever popular general store). Though Nashville is new territory for Kemo Sabe, the crew is no stranger to being on the road. Just within the last year, the roadhouse team has brought pop ups to Houston, Dallas, Round Top, Austin, Las Vegas, Ketchum, and now, Nashville.

The pop-up travels around by means of a massive trailer (43-feet long and 13-feet high) that carries a bevy of western wear. Inside, you’ll find a cowboy heaven that could easily dress the entire cast of “Yellowstone.” The walls are lined with hats and boots while the center is filled with vintage jewelry, jackets, belts, buckles, and so much more. The famous Kemo Sabe mantras, “It seemed like a good idea at the time” and “Ride em’ like you stole em” decorate the side of the trailer. “Est. 1990” (the year the company was founded in Snowmass Village) is also prominently displayed on the side. Just acquired less than a year ago, the roadhouse trailer is one of the newest additions to the quickly expanding western wear company.

As to be expected, Nashville loved Kemo Sabe. Many were already familiar with the brand and there were dozens of long-term clients who came to pay us a visit. Others, however, were just learning about us for the first time. It was amusing to watch eyes light up as we branded initials and phrases onto the side of hats, cowhide purses and bootstraps. I loved getting to witness the sheer joy that people shared when they finally found their dream hat. Across the board, shoppers were utterly fascinated and intrigued with the concept behind the brand.

Each day, the crew worked overtime to bring the same experience and atmosphere that customers have in the store to this smaller scale pop-up in Nashville. We ensured that each person still received that one-on-one personalization that the Kemo Sabe magic is based around.

Many western enthusiasts traveled near and far to see our crew in Nashville. It was heartwarming to hear the stories of people traveling and going out of their way just to come see us. One mother-daughter duo who traveled from Birmingham were especially thrilled to be there. They left early on a Saturday morning, and the daughter wouldn’t allow the mother to stop driving until they reached Nashville. The mom told me, “She wouldn’t let me stop to eat or use the bathroom or even get a coffee because she wanted to get here in time to ensure they didn’t run out of hats.” They both went on to design new hats and continued to hang out at the pop up for hours after simply because they said they were such big fans.

Throughout the course of our time in Nashville, people kept asking, “Where are you heading next?” I adored this assumption that we had set out on some sort of tour with a band traveling from city to city. Maybe someday the roadhouse crew will travel around in this fashion—just road tripping across the country spreading the cowboy culture. I imagine that if I can’t fulfill the dream of being a real groupie, I might as well become a Kemo Sabe groupie.

At Kemo Sabe, we are always looking for ways to amplify the ambiance and make the experience more fun and livelier. One day, we presented live music from two local Nashville musicians. Another day, we decided to create an impromptu mimosa bar to offer people a morning cocktail as they shopped. Random dancing and cheering would frequently break out at a moment’s notice. The Kemo Sabe crew is all about having a good time, embracing western cowboy culture, and keeping it real. If this lifestyle resonates with you, then you should probably stop by and introduce yourself. It sounds like you’re our kind of people.