Advertisement for Howard & Phil's Appliances (18350 Soledad Canyon Road) and Howard & Phil's Western Wear (18354 Soledad) in Canyon High School's 1970 "Trails" yearbook (pg. 189).
This was Canyon's first yearbook and first graduating class; the school opened in 1968.
At this time, Howard & Phil's was still in the shopping center east of Sierra Highway where the Canyon County Post Office is located.
Howard C. and Phyllis S. McKeon established the eponymous Howard & Phil's Western Wear store in 1962 in a section of Saugus we now call Canyon Country. The community was about to see a big population increase with its first subdivision, North Oaks, which started construction in 1961 and opened in 1963.
The store was originally located at 18354 Soledad Canyon Road in the Canyon Country Post Office shopping center around the corner from the popular Solemint Store and Dillenbeck Market. They added an appliance outlet next door at 18350 Soledad.
Howard and Phyllis had come to California from Utah in the 1930s and were living in Montebello when their first of five sons, Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, was born (in Tujunga) on Sept. 9, 1938. All five sons would become involved in the family business (although Buck gave up active management upon his 1992 election to Congress). They eventually moved the stores west down Soledad to a new shopping center between Camp Plenty and Whites, closer to North Oaks.
While the west side of the Santa Clarita Valley was attracting suburbanites to the new town of Valencia in the late 1960s and 1970s, Howard & Phil's catered to the more rural, ranch-style traditions of the Mint Canyon community, which celebrated its Western roots with an annual Frontier Days Parade and rodeo beginning in 1963.
By the 1980s, even Valencia was embracing the West, although it was a different West spawned by Hollywood's "Urban Cowboy" (1980) and by the line dancing craze. Howard & Phil's rode the wave, opening a total of 52 stores across Southern California, Nevada and Utah — including a store in the Valencia mall itself.
The wave crested, then crashed, and Howard & Phil's went down with it. Audiences (aka shoppers) no longer cared about Billy Ray Cyrus' "Achy Breaky Heart" (1992); they were obsessed with his daughter Miley Cyrus, and they ditched the West for other genres. Howard & Phil Enterprises Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1996 and shuttered its last stores in 1999.
Its biggest rival locally, King's Western Wear in Studio City, followed suit in 2011 after 62 years on Ventura Boulevard.