After about 26 years in business, Casey Campbell decided to hang up his brown-and-gold hat and sell his retail business Monday to longtime manager Matt Lehning and his wife, Nicole.
Campbell, Brown & Gold Outlet’s previous owner, said the sale was just one step toward simplifying his life.
“The kids are out of the house now, and I never wanted to grow old in business,” Campbell said.
A few years ago, the Lehnings approached Campbell with an offer to buy, but he said he wasn’t quite ready, and he wanted to see if his children were interested in taking over the business first.
“The kids didn’t want it,” he said. “And that’s OK, because we want our kids to do whatever they want, not just what their parents did.”
Matt Lehning, a former free safety for the University of Wyoming football team, started working in the marketing department at the Brown & Gold Outlet about 16 years ago as he was still attending the university. Within a few months, he was promoted to manager, he said.
“This is the only job I’ve had since college,” Matt Lehning said.
Having learned the business from the Campbells, Matt Lehning said he and his wife purchased the store with the intent of continuing its reputation of providing quality customer service and “the best Wyoming products we can.”
“We want to keep the ball rolling,” Nicole Lehning said. “(The Campbells) have been great. We’re trying to still learn from them.”
While also working at the Trihydro Corporation, Nicole Lehning said she was the store’s certified public accountant.
“I started yesterday,” she said Tuesday. “I just help out when and where I can.”
Originally starting as a screenprinter, Campbell said he moved his business around 1994 into a space large enough to open a retail section.
“(The Brown & Gold Outlet) kind of just really took off,” he said. “Where we were really fortunate was the name. There was a Brown and Gold store previously in Laramie, but they closed long before we opened.”
About 11 years ago, Campbell said he opened a second location in Cheyenne.
“A lot of people tell me they forget it’s there,” he said. “But the location does really well.”
Nowadays, Matt Lehning said the screenprinting is outsourced, and while he said he doesn’t want to remove the possibility of expansions in the future, he said he doesn’t have any current plans to expand beyond the two stores.
Occasionally, the Lehning’s three children help out around the store.
“They loved (price) tagging the products,” Nicole Lehning said chuckling. “They come in and say, ‘Dad, do you have any items for us to tag?’”
Although the children are still young, Matt Lehning said he looks forward to bringing them into the family business when they get older.
With a focus on UW-branded clothing, Matt Lehning said his biggest sellers depend on the season.
“Right now, we’re selling a lot of sweatshirts because it’s cold out,” he said.
Large, yellow, foam cowboy hats adorn the tops of several clothing racks.
“We go through a couple hundred foam cowboy hats a year,” he said. “And during game days, we sell a lot of our gold clothing.”
But throughout the year, he said neutral colors like gray with black logos sell best.
The Brown & Gold Outlet is also the vendor for UW athletic events, he said.
“We truly appreciate the relationship we have with the UW Athletics Department,” he said.
While Matt Lehning said he doesn’t think his time with the UW football team has a large influence on the business, he does see a lot of former athletes and “life-long fans” come through the store.
Together, the couple said they were happy to have the opportunity to buy the store and grateful for the continued support of the community.
Although Matt Lehning said he wasn’t sure if becoming the owner felt that much different, Nicole Lehning said, “It feels like something much larger.”
The Brown & Gold Outlet, located at 311 S. 21st St., is open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.