Boot Barn on Topanga Canyon Boulevard is part of a chain, but it stands above its sister stores in the region due to the expertise of its staff — and, too, its customers. It's just minutes from old-time horse country in Chatsworth, home to the famed Cowboy Palace Saloon, where locals still arrive on horseback and tie up at hitching posts. Boot Barn's shoppers are students taking equine training and handling courses at nearby Pierce College, as well as longtime San Fernando Valley horse keepers — a vibrant subculture of L.A. once said to be dying. A huge selection of men's and women's cowboy boots starts at $149 and reaches $400 for the real knockouts, with the Texas brand Lucchese a hot seller. Women gravitate toward the high-fashion Western wear tops and accessories; the guys toward workwear. Show up the crowd at your next bar crawl with one of the fancy women's belts, blindingly rhinestone-encrusted, for about $90. 7020 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Canoga Park. (818) 593-4200,

—N. Jenssen

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