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When local horseman Carl Tepper told United Supermarkets CEO Robert Taylor that he needed a hitching post at the company’s Market Street location at 98th Street and Quaker Avenue here, Taylor’s response – not surprisingly – was, “You need what?”
Tepper said he was only half-joking when he made the comment to Taylor at a special event several weeks ago. But when Taylor called him a couple weeks later to say, “Hey, we’re working on that hitching post for you,” Tepper says he was not surprised, “given United’s dedication to customer service."
Now, when Tepper and his friends come to Market Street for an early-morning cup of Peet’s coffee, they’ll not need to look for a place to park. Instead, an Old West-style hitching post now awaits their horses on the east edge of the store parking lot, which is clearly indicated with a nearby sign that reads, “Horse Parking Only.”
A commercial real estate professional, Tepper has been making the half-mile ride to Market Street on “Seaford” regularly for quite some time now. He’s since been joined by John Barber, who rides “cowboy” as a member of the Lubbock Police Department’s Mounted Patrol, among others, all of whom heretofore were forced to hitch their horses to a nearby tree, which proved untenable.
“The horses would just wrap the rope around the tree, so we couldn’t leave them alone for long at all,” said Tepper, a skilled horseman who was a member of the polo team at Texas Tech University in the mid-1990s
When the group found out Taylor was serious about making the hitching post happen, Barber offered to provide the wood. “It’s made from cedar, which really gives it an authentic western look,” Tepper said.
While riding to the store on horseback is certainly eco-friendly, it’s admittedly not particularly practical for purchases beyond the express lane. “If you can’t fit it into the saddle bags, you’d better not buy it,” Barber said.
But what about the inevitable “accidents”? Says Tepper: “We keep a muck rake stashed outside the store – and there’s a dumpster across the street.”
It’s a scenario that’s not likely to play out many other places in the country, but in West Texas, it’s a natural. “Lubbock still has real cowboys and cowgirls, ranchers and farmers,” says Tepper,” and I think it’s great that Market Street has been willing to embrace our western heritage
Now in its 95th year of operation, United Supermarkets, LLC, is a Texas-based, family-owned grocery chain with stores in 30 markets across north and west Texas. A self-distributing company with its headquarters in Lubbock and distribution centers in Lubbock and Roanoke, United currently operates 51 stores under four distinct formats: United Supermarkets, Market Street, Amigos United and United Express.