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home : business : business May 25, 2016

6/4/2013 2:23:00 PM
Bandits Mercantile opens in downtown Sisters
Stormy Hiatt and J.D. Gore blend the Western lifestyle with motorcycle culture to create what they call the RideLife. They’ve opened a store celebrating those values in downtown Sisters. photo by Jim Cornelius
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Stormy Hiatt and J.D. Gore blend the Western lifestyle with motorcycle culture to create what they call the RideLife. They’ve opened a store celebrating those values in downtown Sisters. photo by Jim Cornelius

By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

The Western lifestyle and biker culture fit well together. Both celebrate wide open spaces, and individual freedom combined with a sense of camaraderie.

Stormy Hiatt and J.D. Gore of Bandits Mercantile call it the RideLife and, as Stormy says, "That RideLife can be two wheels or four legs."

The shop, located on the east end of Cascade Avenue in downtown Sisters, offers clothing, home décor items and specialty items that reflect and often combine Western and motorcycle themes. The shop ties in with Gore and Hiatt's current project, a reality TV series called "Iron Rider," which explores the RideLife.

"We're in the process of filming the pilot," Gore noted.

"Iron Rider is a TV show that is in its infancy, and we wanted to establish a storefront - bricks and mortar," said Hiatt.

The shop features the work of many Central Oregon and Pacific Northwest artisans - bags, framed mirrors, custom chaps, a Western "brand" table. The painted banner behind the point-of-sale kiosk aptly evokes the hybrid lifestyle Bandits Mercantile represents: It features legendary cowboy star Tom Mix riding on an Indian motorcycle.

Stormy is especially proud of the line of Leadville belts and buckles, crafted in the U.S. by Kim Seltzer (

"I feel really fortunate to have her work in Bandits, due to the international recognition she has," she said.

Both Gore and Hiatt embody the way of life they promote. Hiatt comes from an Eastern Oregon ranching family, and worked for Harley Davidson. Gore is a lifelong motorcycle enthusiast.

Gore extols the camaraderie of biker culture, which draws people from all walks of life and all socio-economic strata together through love of the motorcycle and the open road.

"We all become equal," he said. "Those social boundaries and barriers are dismissed or dissolve."

At Bandits Mercantile, the couple is seeking to create a welcoming atmosphere where folks can come in and relax. They plan to have a screen to show sporting events. And there's something for both men and women to appreciate.

"We want couples to come in," Stormy says. "We don't want the gentlemen to come in and say 'oh, this is a chick shop' and take off."

And you don't necessarily need to be a biker or a cowboy to feel at home. All you need is a love for the landscapes of the West and an appreciation for the Western lifestyle.

Bandits Mercantile is located on the corner of Cascade Avenue and Larch Street. For more information call 541-280-7974.

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