Christian Johnson, principal at private equity firm Freeman Spogli & Co. and Corey Sclar, managing director at mezzanine lender Brookside Mezzanine Partners, discussed how the two firms came together to make an investment in Boot Barn, a western retailer.Johnson and Sclar keynoted ACG New York’s 2012 retail update conference valuation and due diligence in retail event on Nov. 13, hosted by ACG New York at the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan, discussing how their firms came together to invest in Boot Barn.Brookside initially invested in the company in December 2010, Sclar says, refinancing the company and replacing the company’s subordinated lender, who was looking to exit.  Freeman Spogli came in a year later, in 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 says. The firm tried to understand the key drivers in the western marketplace. Between country music by Taylor Swift and Kenny Chesney, increased patriotism and higher attendance at rodeos and state fairs, western influence has permeated everyday culture. 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,” he says.The company made an add-on acquisition that closed in August – RCC Western Stores, with Brookside’s help. ACG New York’s event also included a panel on pre-acquisition financing and due diligence and another panel about post-acquisition value add opportunities relating to internal operations and customer-facing initiatives.

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