Between country music by Taylor Swift and Kenny Chesney, heightened patriotism and higher attendance at rodeos and state fairs, western influence has permeated everyday culture. Christian Johnson, principal at private equity firm Freeman Spogli & Co., caught on.

Johnson, along with Corey Sclar, managing director at mezzanine lender Brookside Mezzanine Partners, keynoted ACG New York’s 2012 retail update conference valuation and due diligence in retail event in November. The two deal pros reminisced about how they came together to make an investment in Boot Barn, a western retailer.

Brookside initially invested in the company in December 2010, refinancing the company and replacing the company's subordinated lender, who was looking to exit. Freeman Spogli came in during December 2011 to buy the company, Johnson says.

Boot Barn was an attractive investment because the western retail space had less volatility than other types of retail, Johnson adds. An increase in blue-collar employment also made Boot Barn, which sells work wear in addition to western wear, an attractive investment.

Now, Johnson has "managed to acquire a significant amount of cowboy boots." The company made an add-on acquisition that closed in August - RCC Western Stores - with Brookside's help.

-Allison Collins


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