A Las Vegas staple

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71-year-old store gives customers chance to ‘step back in time’

By Ryan Lowery

Walk through the doors of Popular Dry Goods and you’re instantly transported back in time. That’s what customers tell Brenda Manning, one of the managers of the longstanding western wear store on Bridge Street.

“You walk in, you smell the leather, and you just step back in time,” she said. “Like with most of these old buildings, that’s what everyone feels.”

Located at 119 Bridge St., the store has been a fixture on the street since 1947, according to manager Dennis Lujan. Though when it first opened, Popular Dry Goods was located down the street from its current location, in the former Maloof building now decorated with a mural featuring the West Las Vegas sports schedule.

“They were there from ’47 to ’52,” Lujan said. “Then they moved across the street from ’52 to ’62.”
Popular Dry Goods moved into its current building in 1962, and it’s been there since. And just as the location changed over the years, so has the store.

“It started with dry goods,” Manning said. “From a dry goods (store), it changed into more like a department store. At one time we even had formal wear. They sold wedding dresses.”

As styles changed, and as Las Vegas changed, so did the store, according to Manning. Today, Popular Dry Goods caters to hunters, cowboys, ranchers, and anyone who likes clothing from manufactures like Levi, Wrangler or Carhartt. The store is well stocked, with stacks of jeans filling tables, hats covering the walls and boxes of boots stacked to the ceiling.

“Its longevity is because it’s adapted to change,” Manning said. “If you don’t adapt to change, you’re going to close.”

The store has also been featured in several movies and TV shows, like the 2011 science-fiction comedy “Paul,” the 2010 thriller “Inhale,” and the pilot for the 2012 TV series “Vegas.”

Popular Dry Goods was also featured prominently in the 2007 crime thriller “No Country for Old Men” when Josh Brolin’s character shops in the store twice — once wearing only a hospital gown and cowboy boots. “You have a lot of people come in here without any clothes on?” Brolin’s character asks the store clerk, played by actor Thomas Kopache. “No sir, it’s unusual,” the clerk responds in monotone.

Manning said while filming “No Country for Old Men,” crews didn’t change much about the store’s appearance, mostly moving things around to accommodate all of the equipment they needed to bring into the building.

Each time the store was used as a filming location, a production company first approached store management, Manning said.

“They scout for locations, and once they find the location of Las Vegas, then they start scouting for what things we have that fit,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Even after 71 years in business, Popular Dry Goods faces the same struggles other business face, like fluctuating inventory costs, cyclical economic factors and uncertainty in the future. Manning says she looks at those things not a difficulties, but as challenges.

“You just strategize and adapt to keep bringing business in,” she said. “We have some very loyal customers that have been shopping here all their lives. And because Las Vegas is a little more known now, we also have tourists. We are in a great location.”