Small Business Saturday: Young’s Western Wear

Yvonne Hollenbeck
for Tri-State Livestock News
A young entrepreneur opened a small shop in 1934. He didn't let the economy get the best of him and eventually his business grew to cover half a city block in Valentine, Neb. Check out Young's Western Wear for the cowboys and cowgirls on your Christmas list. Courtesy photo
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Being invited to perform poetry at various festivals and civic events around the country, I am often asked, “Where is Clearfield, South Dakota?” Because Clearfield, a virtual ghost town, is far removed from any major highway, I usually answer with a question, “Do you know where Valentine, Nebraska is?” I have yet to have anyone not know where Valentine is and quite often their remark will be, “That’s the town with that good western store.”

One cannot pass through Valentine’s Main Street, which is located along well-traveled U.S. Highway 83, and not notice Young’s Western Wear, as it sports a striking storefront and consumes a good half-a-block. Joining Valentine’s bustling business community of unique shops and outstanding restaurants, Young’s Western Wear is the envy of nearly every community, large or small, across the heartland.

In 1928, at the age of 19, newlywed Curt Young came to Valentine, Nebraska to work for Ralph Brosius in the shoe repair shop. Curt worked six years for Mr. Brosius and in 1934 Curt had the opportunity to buy his own shop from the Hoenig estate, in the rear of the Hoenig Clothing Store. Later Curt moved his business to the Peggy Shaw building at 278 North Main, then to the basement at Babcock’s Mens Wear.

In 1954, Cork Young returned from four years in the Air Force, married his sweetheart, Mary Engel, and joined his father in business. They soon learned they needed to expand and bought Reese Western Wear from Cliff and JoAnn Reese in October 1956. Curt then bought the Rainbow Café from Lawnie and Madge Beed in January 1957, the café equipment was sold, and this building was the beginning what became Young’s Western Wear. In November of 1958, the adjoining Brown & Little Building was bought, the building remodeled and partitions removed, thus enlarging the store into one 20,000 square foot building. Through the past 71 years there have certainly been trials; however the business has seen nothing but growth, both in size as well as the contents and services provided. The shoe and saddle repair business has always remained an important part of the business and is housed in the basement portion of the store.

Curt Young died Sept. 7, 1970, and Cork continued to operate the business with wife Mary working by his side, until Cork’s untimely death on June 15, 2007. The couple’s son, Mike, is now holding the reins with the able assistance of his mother, wife, and a host of knowledgeable and friendly employees.

If you want glitzy, Hollywood-style western merchandise you will not find it in this store, as Young’s Western Wear caters to hard-working ranch folks and true cowboys through its huge inventory of quality boots, saddles, tack, hats, clothing and outerwear. A large department of western giftware of all types is also housed within the walls of this business, and a shipping department that sends merchandise daily to all parts of the country, as well as foreign countries, due to a large number of repeat customers, telephone orders, and internet marketing.

Young’s Western Wear in downtown Valentine, Nebraska, is truly a one-stop shopping center for all things western and no better place to do some small town shopping!

Find Young’s Western Wear online at: or call them at 1-800-658-4398.