Months after Jedlicka’s Western Wear & Saddlery closed its Santa Barbara store after more than eight decades, its distinctive neon saddle sign finally rode away.
In the back of a Ford F-150 pickup truck.
After undergoing a much-needed refurbishment, it will be put on display at the Carriage and Western Art Museum of Santa Barbara, the keeper of many historical artifacts and relics representing the community’s Western heritage.
The saddle sign is a rightful addition.
According to Jenkins, the sign was installed in the 1950s when upper De la Vina Street was part of Hollister Avenue and State Street stopped at Sixth Avenue, which later would be renamed Constance Avenue.
The original Jedlicka’s sign was actually a pole sign, but the saddle was remounted on the stucco building in the early 1980s to meet municipal code. The City of Santa Barbara frowns on the use of neon, but Jenkins said the sign was grandfathered in.
Earlier this year, Jedlicka’s announced it would be closing the De la Vina Street store, citing the changing nature of the retail western wear business. A sister store remains open at 2883 Grand Ave. in Los Olivos.
“Lack of volume, lack of sales,” Jenkins said of the decision at the time. “And a lack of support by suppliers.”
Bootmaker George “Jed” Jedlicka opened the store originally as a shoe business in 1932, and it evolved into a classic western wear store, selling saddles, equestrian and ranching gear, and all things cowboy clothing.
Jenkins’ father, Si, began working at Jedlicka’s in high school and he and his family eventually bought the business. Jenkins himself got his start at the store as a teenager, as well.
“We have had a good run and we were happy to take care of people,” he said. “But it’s changing times. It’s like selling buggy whips and carriages. It doesn’t happen anymore. Things change.”
And now the saddle sign is gone.
Jenkins said a crew consisting of Carriage and Western Art Museum board president Peter Georgi, Brent Roach and Jan Willingham removed the sign with the help of a crane from Big Red Crane of Ojai.
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