As you step foot into our Western World you will realize there is a real history here. Established in 1980 both Jeanie and Jim Cavanagh realized a lifelong dream. Jim was born and raised in Montana with a deep rooted “western” lifestyle. As a proud member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association who competed in many events including calf roping and team roping. He held his Gold Card for over 40 years. He bought and sold thousands of saddle horses over the years and was the founder of an annual Labor Day Jackpot Roping (still in existence today), which brought contestants from all over the East Coast. Jim worked managing the horse operation at 1000 Acres Ranch for many years, with a dream of opening a western store of his own. This dream came true and he named this store Rafter J Western World. Branding became ideal to “id” the owners of their livestock. Jim’s “brand” was inspired by the West using the symbols of a “rafter” and a “J” which acted as a thumb print on his livestock.
Jeanie (Ladd) Cavanagh lived in the Albany, NY area before marrying Jim in 1981. She started riding horses at the age of two, as her parents were also horse owners and competitors. At age 14, Jeanie started competing at the weekly Painted Pony Ranch, Lake Luzerne, New York in the barrel racing event. Thus began a 20 year involvement in barrel racing all over the East Coast, including Madison Square Garden (age 16) for Jeanie.
In the 60’s and 70’s there were no nationwide chains of western clothing stores. Many female contestants, including Jeanie, who were looking for authentic, well-made and fashionable attire to compete in had their blouses and slacks custom made by western tailors in Texas. It was then that she took a keen interest in western clothing fashion, often designing her own outfits.
Since opening Rafter J Western World, shopping for new and exciting products for the store often requires attending one of the two buyers markets in the United States, one in Pennsylvania and the other in Denver, Colorado. Denver represents the very best of all manufacturers in the western industry. It is truly an amazing experience, where there is a huge selection of specialized western items, including new Lucchese Boots and Ariat Boots. The styles have changed tremendously over the past 30 years, and our inventory reflects these current trends in our hats, boots, belts, and jewelry that are proven winners in the industry.