I’ve been told that “niche marketing” is the latest, greatest way to sell goods and services by targeting a particular sector of the population.

Every day, as I commuted to and from town, it struck me that one guest ranch in particular, the DNR Ranch on the North Fork, might be using that concept to its advantage.

At first I thought the ranch name utilized somebody’s initials. Then I began to consider what my daughter, a registered nurse, told me about those initials.

She said in nurse-speak, DNR means “Do Not Resuscitate.”

Therefore, if a really elderly person with little hope of a brighter future comes to the hospital, the person can specify that if he becomes mortally ill and lapses into, say, a coma, he does not wish to be revived via heroic measures. He’s done. For him, the war is over.

Next I looked up niche marketing and learned that it does indeed refer to offering a specific product aimed at satisfying a specific market need.

Hmmm.

The DNR was practicing brilliant niche marketing, I concluded.

The DNR Ranch must have been targeting all those elderly millionaires who marry lovely young trophy wives - you know, all those young, blonde wives who are looking forward to being young, blonde widows.

I could almost hear the discussions emanating from the DNR’s fine cabins as I drove past:

“Oh, Harry, just finish up your gruel now, so we can go for that wonderful 40-mile horseback ride you were so looking forward to,” Young Wife might croon to a frail husband as he sits in an easy chair, his lap covered with a warm woolly robe.

“Umph,” he replies, drooling a mudslide of gruel down the front of his silken cowboy shirt.

The wife tidies him up and straightens his clothing, pulling - a bit too tightly, did I see? - at his long black silk cowboy-style neckerchief as she glances out the window, staring (a little too longingly, do I imagine?) at the chiseled features of the handsome young wrangler who’s saddling up for the upcoming trail ride.

“Come on, Harry, hurry up there,” the wife urges rather snappishly, considering that Harry appears to be dozing off again, his face dipping dangerously near his bowl of cooling gruel.

She helps Harry up and leads him out to the corral.

“Oh, Clint,” she calls sweetly to the young wrangler, who is admiring his white teeth in the polished concho on a DNR bridle.

“Harry has decided to go along on the 40-mile mountain trail ride after all. Do we first have to sign some sort of release?”

“Yes ma’am,” says Clint, striding over and handing the wife a paper indicating he is not responsible for accidents, and also naming the rider’s next of kin.

“Um, Clint, do you have a DNR form also?” asks the wife coyly. Clint hands it to her. It says, “In case of an accident, Do Not Resuscitate.” She gets Harry to sign.

“Thanks Clint,” Harry’s wife says. “And by the way, Harry (who is nodding off again while leaning on the corral poles) would just love to ride that nice paint gelding. The one you call Widowmaker.”

I never would know how the little drama played out, since I had to get to work. But one could only suppose that the horse lived up to his name and the wealthy blonde wife became a wealthy blonde widow. One who rode off into the sunset - on a horse far tamer than Widowmaker -with Clint dancing dogged attendance.

Sadly, the end of that era has come, since the DNR has sold to new owners. The sign is changing as you read these lines.

Its name will revert back to what it used to be called - Rand Creek Ranch.

And I think they’ve sold old Widowmaker. Whew.

Now likely the niche to which the ranch will cater will be families intent on happy Western vacations.

The blondes and the Harrys of the world will have to find their own niche someplace else.

 

Originally Published in The Cody Enterprise. January 27, 2010.