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August 2013

The Leather Retailers’ and Manufacturers’ Journal

Shop Talk Talk! with Boot & Shoe News

INSIDE : Laugh Lines | Goods & Services | Starting a Leather

Business | Hide Report | Boot & Shoe News | Mill Iron | News Notes & Queries | Classifieds Since 1984

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august 2013 |


The Leather Retailers’ and Manufacturers’ Journal

Table of Contents


Laugh Lines .........................................................................6 Goods & Services ...............................................................9 Starting a Leather Business..........................................13 Hide Report .......................................................................17 Boot & Shoe News ...........................................................20

Canada ............................................................................26


News, Notes & Queries ..................................................50

Deadline for advertising copy is the 5th of the month prior to the month of publication. Invoices are due upon receipt. SHATA members who display the SHATA logo in their advertisement receive a 5% discount on display ads. 6 or 12-month prepaid advertising contracts receive a 5% discount. Discounts may not be combined (advertisers may receive either a SHATA discount or a prepaid contract discount).

Classifieds ...........................................................................58

Classified Ads

Mill Iron ...............................................................................36

Cartoon ...............................................................................61

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$50 per hour with a $18 minimum. Line art may be inserted at no additional charge. $10 per photo. Shop Talk! is published monthly (ISSN 1547-0121) by Proleptic, Inc. Subscription rates are $36 annually, $39 (US) for Canada and Mexico, and $54 (US) for all other countries. Shop Talk! is the official monthly publication of the Saddle, Harness, and Allied Trades Association (SHATA). SHATA members receive a $4 discount on annual subscriptions. For more information on subscriptions, advertising rates, or SHATA membership, contact:


$399 for one page— Maximum trim size: 8-1/4” X 10-3/4” $45 each additional page. Event flyers must be inserted 60 days in advance. All inserts must be shipped directly to printer.

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Shop Talk Leather Magazine

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Recycling old magazines, catalogs, and newspapers is one of the easiest ways to help the environment. To increase the supply of recoverable wood fiber and to reduce the demand on regional landfills, Shop Talk! urges its readers to support recycling efforts in their communities. Shop Talk! is printed only with inks made from vegetable oil.

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published by Proleptic, Inc. P.O. Box 17817 Asheville, NC 28816 email:

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Laugh Lines It’s Summer and Time to Travel! One day a man took the train from Detroit to Baltimore. When he got on the train he said to the conductor, “Sir, I really need you to do me a favor. I have got to get off this train in Cincinnati but I’m real tired and it’s for sure that I’ll fall asleep. So what I need you to do is wake me when we get to Cincinnati because I have an important meeting and need to be on time. Here’s $20 to do that for me. But I warn you sometimes when people wake me up I get really violent but no matter what I do or say you’ve got to get me off this train when we reach Cincinnati—OK?” So the conductor agreed and took the man’s $20. Just like he predicted, the man soon fell asleep and when he finally woke up he realized that the train was just pulling into Baltimore! “Are you stupid or something?” the man yelled at the conductor. “I paid you $20 to wake me up in Cincinnati—and you didn’t! I want my money back!” And on and on and on. While the man was yelling at the conductor, two other men were looking at them and one of the men turns to the other and says, “Boy, that guy is mad!” And his friend replied, “Yeah! He’s almost as mad as the guy they made get off the train at Cincinnati!”

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A couple

on vacation was driving their RV through Wisconsin. As they approached the town of Oconomowoc they started arguing about the pronunciation of the town’s name and continued to bicker while they stopped for lunch.

Oconomowoc Waukesha

As they stood at the counter the husband asked the cashier, “Before we order, could you please settle an argument for us? Would you please pronounce where we are—very slowly?” The girl leaned over the counter and said, “Burrrrr-gerrrrr-Kiiing.” A group of tourists was being guided through an ancient castle in Europe. “This structure,” the guide informed them, “is 600 years old.” There were appreciative murmurs from the crowd. “Not a stone in it has been touched,” the guide continued, “nothing altered, nothing replaced in all those years.” “Wow,” piped up one woman from the rear of the group. “They must have the same landlord I do!” Shop Talk!

It was mealtime during a flight on a small airplane. “Would you like dinner?” the flight attendant asked one of the passengers. “What are my choices?” the passenger asked. “Yes or no,” the attendant replied.

A jetliner abruptly stopped on the tar-

mac, turned around, and returned to the gate. After an hour long wait, it finally took off. A concerned passenger asked a flight attendant, “What was the problem?”

“The pilot was bothered by a noise he heard in the engine,” explained the attendant,“ and it took a while for us to find a new pilot.”


r. Martin was a traveling salesman and frequent flyer so he was always very, VERY careful to mark his luggage so that no one would mistakenly take his bags. He always did this with bright ribbons and tape so he was quite surprised to see his bags grabbed by a well dressed man when he got to the baggage carousel. Mr. Martin walked over to the fellow and pointed out the colored ribbons tied to the handle and the fluorescent tape on the sides. “I believe that luggage is mine. Were your bags marked like this?” he asked. “Actually,” the man replied, “I was wondering who did this to my luggage.”

Nick-O Sewing Machine, LLC • 7745 Hwy 76 S. • Stanton, TN 38069 • 1-800-526-4256 • Ph: (731) 779-9963 • Fx: (731) 779-9965 Shop Talk!

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WATERGATE A honeymooning couple stayed at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC. The

bride was worried and said to her new husband, “What if the place is still bugged?” The groom said, “I’ll look around.” So he looked behind the drapes, behind the pictures, and then under the rug—aha! Under the rug was a disc with four screws. The man got out his multi-purpose tool that had a screw driver, unscrewed the screws, and threw the plate out of the window. The next morning the hotel manager asked the newlyweds, “How was your room? How was the service?” To which the groom replied, “Why are you asking me all these questions?” The manager answered, “Well, the room under you complained of the chandelier falling on them!”

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A motorist was mailed a picture of his car speeding through automated radar. A $40 speeding ticket was included. Thinking himself cute, the offending motorist sent the police department a picture of a $40 check. The police responded with another photo of handcuffs.

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Shop Talk!



If you’re a manufacturer, distributor, or wholesaler with a new product that might be of interest to our readers, please drop us a line! We’ll be sure to mention you in the next available issue of Shop Talk! FREE! No joke! And pictures are always very much appreciated. Contact: Shop Talk!, P O Box 17817, Asheville, NC 28816, (828) 505-8474, e-mail: Thanks! We want to hear from YOU!

 Andy Barta at Barta Hide recently got in 20,000 lbs. of good scrap latigo—large and long pieces. $1/lb. Lots of other scrap available and all useable for small items. Contact: Barta Hide, 888 Lakeville Rd., Petaluma, CA 94952, (707) 762-2965, fax (707) 762-7013.  Hadlock & Fox does a whole lot more stuff than you might realize. Yes, they manufacture saddles and strap goods. They carry lots of tools and supplies for saddle makers and leather workers—and a few things you won’t fi nd anyplace else. They even make saddle trees including an 1859 McClellan 11”-13”

for $260. Rawhide cover. So find out what’s going at H&F and get a catalog today or go online at www.hadlockfox. com. Contact: #10 Finegan Rd., Del Rio, TX 78840, (800) 274-6017. “Ici nous parlons francais!” It’s true—Alain Eon, author of Restoring Vintage Western Saddles also has the book available in FRENCH! Restauration de selles americaines anciennes. Shop Talk!

He welcomes both retail and wholesale accounts. Since he lives in France, probably the best way to contact Alain is to e-mail him at:

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MAIN OFFICE & WAREHOUSE 3025 Irishtown Rd. Ronks, PA 17540 (717) 768-0174

Manufacturers of Leather, Nylon or Biothane Products like Halters, Harnesses or other Equine or Pet Related items. Distributors of Harness & Saddlery Hardware. Leather, Leather Oils, Biothane & Nylon Webbing plus other Equine Products. Call us for any custom made Harness or Saddlery Hardware item you may need.

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 Here’s a very cool picture of the laser guide on Raphael Sewing’s Techsew 5100:

To fi nd out more about this fantastic machine, please contact Ron at (866) 415-8223,  New 132 page catalog from Aaron Martin Harness and it’s a dandy! They make about hipping FREE S /30/13 8 h g throu ly) (US On

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any size and style of harness you might want, lots of draft harness. They’ve got collars, collar housings, h a m e s , hardware, halters, sweat pads, show supplies, stable supplies, hardware, supplies, even books and gifts. They’ve got blankets and make their own carpenter aprons. Aaron Martin Harness is a distributor for Biothane and carries a good selection in stock. Of course, they also have leather and nylon. They sell a lot more equipment and leather working tools than you might think. I’ve never seen anyone with so many different neck yokes, single trees, and double trees! Of course, they still carry all the fi ne harness hardware that Troy once made which is now being manufactured by Hillside Harness Hdw. in the US. That hardly scratches the surface! In addition to all their products, Aaron Martin offers a lot of services such as strap cutting, box tacking, assembly, clicking, and private labeling. If you need it done—whether the material is leather, vinyl, nylon, or bio, most likely Aaron Martin Harness can make it for you! Contact: 4445 Posey Line, Wallenstein, ON N0B 2S0, Canada. (800) 367-0639,  New 56 page catalog from Harness Hardware which carries both saddlery and harness supplies.

Available only from

Proleptic, Inc.

P.O. Box 17817, Asheville, NC 28816 ph: (828) 505-8474 • fax: (828) 505-8476

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Lots and lots of stainless. They have webbing buckles, Western girth buckles, English girth roller buckles in different styles, and English bridle studs. You need snaps or rings? Harness Hardware has them. There are a lot of bits Shop Talk!

and slide loops from ½” to 1½” in stainless. And regardless of the style or size of hame you might want, HH probably has it in stock! Contact: 4410 Lawson Line, RR #3, Wallenstein, ON N0B 2S0, Canada, (866) 6349421,  Lots of new catalogs this month including one from Hillside Harness Hdw. The new one weighs in around 148 pp., and the number of products that Hillside carries is just exploding—wow! Of course, the big news is that Hillside acquired Troy Brass in Canada last October and is now making all the hames and fine brass harness hardware that Troy did. Hillside is now carrying leather from Thoroughbred Leather and coated webbing from Biothane. They’ve got whatever type of harness part you might need. Whips and crops. Driving and riding bits in both stainless and brass. T h e r e ’s harness hardware, hardware for hames, and a growing selection of saddlery hardware. Hillside makes some real pretty rosettes in Shop Talk!





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both stainless and SB as well as letters in different sizes. There’s also a growing selection of stable and barn supplies including several models of both Wahl and Andis clippers and blades. Good source for horse healthcare supplies. Hillside is expanding its selection of English and Western strap goods—training headstalls, martingales, breast collars, cavesons, nosebands, halters, and headstalls. There’s a lot going on at Hillside! Contact: 4205 Township Road 629, Millersburg, OH 44654, (330) 893-1510, fax (330) 698-3200.

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Shop Talk! • P.O. Box 17817 • Asheville, NC 28816 Phone (828) 505-8474 • Fax (828) 505-8476 • Email: • 12 |

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Shop Talk!


by Kevin Hopkins, President, Springfield Leather

[Editor’s Note: We are delighted to have Kevin Hopkins begin a series of columns this month based on his experience as a leather worker and businessman. While Kevin began working at the bench in his garage over forty years ago, he now runs a leather supply business, Springfield Leather, which employes over thirty people. Given his wide range of experiences at the bench, at the counter, and behind the desk, we feel very fortunate that Kevin is willing to share his insights with the readers of Shop Talk! Thank you, Kevin!]


o you know how to make a small fortune with a leather business? It’s easy…start with a big one!

First Things First WHAT……ARE YOU SOME KINDA NUT??? ‘Cause no one in their right mind would want to start a leather business in this day and age! Well…now that you understand where we’re coming from, plus the fact that anyone who wants to start a leather craft business is probably a couple of rivets short of a full pack, we’ll get down to business. After all, that’s what this is all about. Business. Folks may tell you that almost all business is basically the same. That’s true to a certain degree, but anyone who has had a successful leather craft business will tell you that the very nature of leather itself generates unique circumstances which many other businesses just don’t have to deal with. It’s not like going out and buying some wood and building a cabinet or a jewelry box or a cage for your pet clam. Each and every piece of leather is unique, even if it’s only because it was cut from a different part of the hide. Shop Talk!

Most people link success in business with sales, and sales are certainly one of the critical elements of any business. But here’s a profound little tidbit of wisdom to consider: It’s not necessarily the sale that makes the profit, but it’s definitely the skill in buying that makes the sale profitable. I’d type that again for emphasis, but instead, I’ll just say THINK ABOUT THAT!!! Then think about it again, and remind yourself about it every now and then. It will be good for you! There are many companies today that are able to sell a significant amount of product at a profit but, because of a lack of truly skillful purchasing, they are only mildly successful. On the other hand, there are companies today that sell less product and make more money simply because of smart purchasing. There is an art to purchasing, and it doesn’t matter where you

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are, you can develop and use this art to your advantage. Yes, even if you’re in prison. You can bet that we’ll discuss this further later on. Now, you need to think about a few things before you really get into spending too much money. First of all, what do you really want to accomplish with your leather craft? People do leather craft basically for two reasons: 1. To make money 2. As a hobby, to pass time, make a few gifts, make something that they can’t buy elsewhere, etc., etc. If your answer is number 2, then most of what I have to say in this and future columns will really be nothing more than informative and mildly amusing. On the other hand, if your answer is number 1, then you’ll find some sound business advice and principles that relate specifically to the leather world. Hopefully what I have to say will be clear,

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convincing, and understandable. Make no mistake…this column is designed specifically to help you make money with your leather craft! I’m sure you realize that I can’t do it all for you, and I know you don’t expect that. But if you were put in the position of having to make money by making triple jointed, deluxe edition, purple Nigerian widgets, you’d most likely be pretty happy to have the guy who invented them there to get you over the rough spots! One of the benefits that I hope to provide here is to help you avoid some of the myriads of common mistakes that people make in business today. Believe me, you’re gonna make some of them anyway, but hopefully fewer of them and hopefully they won’t be as big as they might have been. Now, I want you to ask yourself some questions (this is the easy part). Then, I want you to try to answer them honestly (that’s a little harder). Then, see if you can find someone to see if

Shop Talk!

you answered correctly. Lastly, find someone who you feel can give you honest and sincere criticism (that’s realllllllly hard). Here goes: 1st question: Are you open-minded? Really? 2nd question: Do you talk more than you listen? Really? 3rd question: Do you know what humility really means? (that one is tough) 4th question: Do you tend to be a positive or negative type of person? Be honest. 5th question: Can you learn to think before you speak? (yeah, I know…you already do. Riiiight.) 6th question: Would other people say that you always have to justify your words and actions? Those questions and their answers are going to put success much more within your reach than you might think possible.

REMEMBER—it’s not dollars that make you successful! It’s PEOPLE! Dollars don’t give a flip about all those questions. But just as sure as my wife’s dog is stupid, people do! So, ask yourself this question, and then think about it for a moment: Would you like your best friends to have all those qualities? I surely would!!! I like open-minded people because they’ll listen to me. I like people who listen more than they talk because I feel that they care about my views. I like people with humility because they build me up rather that tear me down. I like positive people rather than negative because I’m more positive when I’m around them. I like people who think before they speak because I feel that they have a measure of wisdom. I don’t like people who have to justify everything they say or do because they’re usually boring and insincere. Now, this is kind of deep stuff. But if you can buy into this so far, take a break, (if possible) grab a coffee, or a soda, or an iced tea, or

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Shop Talk!

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After you’ve done that, we’ll go on to “Gaining the Right Altitude.” (And by the way, if you really want to take full advantage of this material, make a few notes on the bottom of the pages when thoughts come to you or underline things that strike you as key points.) Until next month.

Condition • Protect • Restore


whatever trips your trigger, and find a friend to discuss this with. Then pick it apart, or tie it together, or make a circle out of it, or whatever else you’d like to do. See what you come up with. You might try relating those points to your future customers and vendors. And people in general too.

Springfield Leather Co., 1463 S. Glenstone, Springfield, MO 65808, (800) 668-8518, e-mail:

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Please note: The information provided in this article will be at least 30 days old by the time you read it since the hide market, like all commodity markets, is something that changes from day to day and hour to hour. Still, despite the fluctuations, the trends mentioned here will hopefully suggest where world markets seem to be heading and how you can expect the hide market to behave. There follows extracts and summaries of items that have appeared on

 The first day of the May 2013 edition of the ANPIC Leather & Footwear Exhibition in Leon, Mexico, attracted a total of 1,818 buyers from seventeen different countries. The trade show, which is the largest of its kind in North America, opened on May 23. The number of visitors was 27% higher than on the first day of the 2012 show. Columbia, Italy, and the US were the countries that sent the most visitors. ANPIC, the Fair of America, is an international event that features a wide variety of exhibits including machinery, footwear, supplies, and leather. ANPIC solicits participation from twenty-six nations which display their products and services to an international clientele. Nearly 872 exhibitors participate from all over the world.  The total value of imported leather to China dropped to US $500 million in the first three months of 2013, 4.3% less than 2012. Leather was imported from Italy, South Korea, India, Brazil,

Shop Talk!

Thailand, Argentina, Pakistan, and Vietnam. The imports from Italy dropped by 7.98% to US $100 million while imports from Korea rose 6.48% to US $99 million, 6.86% growth was seen in imports from India and imports from Asian countries also reported fast growth.  India’s leather exports jumped 11.6 % to US $367 million in the first month of the current fiscal year compared to the same period last year on account of rising demand from Western markets like the US and EU. In April 2012, these exports stood at US $328 million, according to the data provided by the Council for Leather Exports (CLE). …[A CLE official commented,] “We expect leather exports to grow up to 20% in the current fiscal [year].” The major markets for leather and its products are the US, the UK, Germany, Italy, France, and Spain.

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Among the items which experienced growth in April 2013, leather garments saw a jump of 23% followed by a 21% in leather goods, 17.4% in saddlery and harness, a 13% jump in leather footwear, and 9.3% in footwear components.

 Foot Locker, Inc., reported a net income increase of 7.8% in the first quarter ending May 4, to $138 million, compared with net income of $128 million in 2012. First quarter comparable store sales increased 5.2%.

Besides, the official said, there is a good demand for leather products in emerging markets like China, Japan, Africa, and Latin America. Leather exports grew over 4% year-on-year to US $5 billion in 2012-2013.

Total first quarter sales increased 3.8% to $1.64 billion this year compared with sales of $1.58 billion for the corresponding period last year….

 The US consumer confidence index climbed to a five-year high of 76.2 in May from 69.0 in April. Consumers were more optimistic about the health of the economy over the next six months. Consumers are “considerably more upbeat about future economic and job prospects,” said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the Conference Board. “Back-to-back monthly gains suggest that consumer confidence is on the mend and may be regaining the traction it lost due to the fiscal cliff, payroll tax hike, and sequester.”

[According to Ken C. Hicks, chairman of the board and CEO,] “It takes a true team effort and excellent performance to generate the kind of momentum that enabled us to post the best quarterly profit results in our history as an athletic company—for the second year in a row.…  US automakers are accelerating production lines and, in some cases, even cancelling the North American industry’s traditional summer factory shutdowns to meet strong demand. The plans highlight the Detroit “Big Three” automakers’ recent gains against Japanese rivals and the auto industry’s prime position in the US economic recovery. Car sales roared ahead this year even as retail spending on clothing and other goods sputtered. General Motors and Chrysler Group, LLC, are running their factories at full tilt amid a continued increase in sales. Perspective US automotive sales reached a 14.9 million vehicle pace in April. Auto executives expect US sales for all of 2013 to reach 15 million vehicles, an increase over last year’s total sales of 14.5 million…. Historically, summer shutdowns let US automakers reduce inventories and provide vacation time for workers. The plant closings also allow companies to do everything from installing new production machines to remodeling and painting factories. Not this year. GM said it would have no companywide shutdowns for the first time since 2008. The largest US automaker will move or delay the production halts on an as-needed basis. For example, there is no July summer break scheduled for the Lansing, MI, Grand River Assembly Plant where the company builds Cadillac ATS and CTS models. Production may be idled for two weeks later in the year.

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Shop Talk!

 … China’s luxury goods market is likely to grow by 20% this year, accounting for more than a quarter of global luxury sales, according to a recent report by Deutsche Bank AG. The bank’s economists believe that, despite several months of sluggishness in various economic indicators in China, the second half outlook remains positive.

That’s partly due to weak inflation and the foreseeable likelihood of China’s central bank keeping rates low to spur consumer spending. “It’s hard not to be optimistic about the future of luxury goods in China,” said John Zhang, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School….

Here’s a chart which compares prices from about mid-month 2013 to mid-month 2012:

Weight (lbs.)




Price July 2012

Heavy Texas Steers






Heavy Texas Steers (Hvy)






Branded Steers






Branded Steers (Hvy)






Colorado Steers






Butt Branded Steers






Butt Branded Steers (Hvy)






Heavy Native Steers (Hvy)






Heavy Native Heifers






Branded Heifers






Heavy Native Cows






Branded Cows






Spready Dairy Cows












Native Bulls

Shop Talk!

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Free Seminars at Roundup One of the presenters at this year’s Custom Saddle & Boot Makers Roundup will be the renowned boot maker and teacher Carl Chappell. Carl is recognized throughout the trade as one of the greatest living Western boot makers in the US. He’s a great craftsman as well as being an inspiring speaker. You’ll come away from his seminar happy that you attended—and it’s free! The Roundup this year is October 4-5 in Wichita Falls, TX. For all the details about the full slate of seminars please call Eddie or Kathy Kimmel at Kimmel Boot, 2080 County

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Road 304, Comanche, TX 76442, (325) 3563197, e-mail:,

Goods & Services JR square cuts (4¼” x 3¾”) are available at Kaufman Shoe Repair Supplies in New York City. Two heights for toe tips, heel buildups, and heel base layers. Sold by the pound–$6 per up to 9 lbs. and $5 per for 10 or more lbs. Contact: 346 Lafayette St., New York, NY 10012, (212) 777-1700, www.kaufmanshoe. com.

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Boot Makers, Get Busy! Don’t put it off any longer! It’s time that you get busy and start making the fanciest dancing boots ever was so they’ll be ready in time to take them down to the Roundup this coming October 4-5! That’s the Custom Boot & Saddle Makers’ Roundup that takes place every year in Wichita Falls, TX. There’s always a Boot Contest every year which attracts the very best boot makers in the country as well as a lot of fresh talent—like you! The man running the show this year is Mike Vaughn who may be reached at (940) 872-6935 or (940) 867-2173, e-mail: mvaughnboots@ Here are the basic boot rules:  Boots must be checked in at the table no later than 1 PM Friday to be entered.  Each contestant is limited to one entry per category.  Boots cannot have been previously entered in any boot competition.  All boots will be entered as a pair, not a single boot.  All categories will be judged anonymously by boot makers who have been in the business for years and whose work is considered master quality. To eliminate any conflict of interest, no judge will have a boot or a student whose boot is entered in the contest.  Buckles will be awarded to the winner of each category (minimum of 3 entries required for award to be presented). Plaques will be awarded for 2nd place in Top Stitching, Working Cowboy, Dress, and Artistry only.

 An “Exhibition Only” table will be available for boots and boot maker products to be displayed. Journeyman: 15 or less pairs of boots made. Basic boot with top stitching only. No tooling, inlays, collars, brands, etc. Journeymen should concentrate on the basics of building a good boot. Note: if you enter the contest as a Journeyman, you can only enter this category.

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Sale or Lease of New & Used Machinery

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august 2013 |


Top Stitching: Boot top will have stitching only—minimum 3 rows of stitching. No inlays, collars, brands, etc. Working Cowboy: Noticeable sturdy construction built with tough type skins like (but not limited to) water buffalo, bull hide, pigskin, elephant, shark, hippo, and horse. May include initials, brand and/or a collar only. Collars can have cutouts or inlays. No more than three colors of leather on top, including the top leather. Dress: Think of simple elegance, something to be worn with a suit or slacks. May include initials, brand, collar, and/or tooling only. Artistry: Anything goes in this category—any leather, any design, any design details, etc. Let your imagination go!

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Shop Talk!

Masters: Anyone who has won each class (excluding Journeyman) will only be allowed to enter the Masters category. The guidelines for the Masters will change from year to year, allowing judges to compare boots with the same genre, comparing quality and workmanship.


You may enter any of the above categories (other than Journeyman) that you have not previously won. Once you have won a category, you will no longer be allowed to enter that category.

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The Professional’s Choice award will be chosen from the above categories.

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ANPIC The largest leather, accessory, and footwear trade show in North America will be held this coming November in Leon, Mexico. You need lasts? They have lasts! It’s always a great education. You can find the exact dates for the next ANPIC show at, e-mail:

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W Adjustable Top Collars W All Purpose Collars W Show Collars

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Pedorthic Footcare Association ◘ PFA’s 54th Annual Symposium and Exhibition will take place this coming Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2013, at the John B. Hynes Memorial Convention Center and the Sheraton Boston Hotel. For all the details call (703) 610-9035 or look online at ◘ PFA has an online newsletter, “PFA Online.” Find out more at

Wooden Shoes For Sale If you’ve had an overwhelming desire to make wooden shoes all your life, now’s your chance! What a great part-time, at home business! America’s last master wooden shoe carver (88 years old) has a complete set of tools available and will teach you the craft. Contact: Bob Siegel at (262) 242-1571, e-mail:

Chap, Saddle & Tooling Leather! The best grades from the best tanneries! Hermann Oak #1, or A & B grades only! Skirting, Harness, Strap, tooling, etc. Large clean sides of chap leather! Same types and colors always in stock! Work, Rodeo and Show!

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Shop Talk!


JANUARY 11-15, 2013

The Industry's Largest Fall Market...

3 1 0 2 e Th


The Denver WESA January Market has been branded as the premier trade show for the Industry. After more than 90 years of success, WESA Markets are known for providing pertinent education to attendees while bringing together retailers, sales reps and manufacturers in a friendly, down-home environment.

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august 2013 | 25 facebook

Heading North to Canada


e’re heading to Canada this month for a quick visit with some of our northern neighbors so hang on and enjoy! This is 65-year-old Malcolm Jenne who owns Capital Findings & Leather, a company that’s been in existence since 1914. Malcolm and some friends bought the business, located in Toronto, after it had closed in 1992. Malcolm explains that he got into his new occupation “by mistake.” It’s a familiar story! Malcolm, an American expat who immigrated north in 1967, thought he was getting into a craft supply business, something like Michaels. It sounded like a good idea until he quickly realized that 90% of his business was with shoe repair shops! Malcolm is a very good humored man and, while relating his story, chuckles, “I had to learn that industry in a big hurry.” And he did. He’s the only partner left from the group of original owners. Over the years Malcolm has seen a lot of changes in his business and his clientele. At time one he sold mostly to repair shops where today he sells to a lot more retail stores. He

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admits that since he’s been in business he’s witnessed a marked decline in the number of repair shoes but feels that things have leveled off in the past few years. He’s seen more immigrants get into the business. There’s a reason for that. Malcolm explains that a business investment of, let’s say, $50,000 will give an individual extra points on his immigration application which can help expedite his or her entry into Canada. There’s more. Once the new arrival has a foothold in Canada, they will often get a relative or friend who wants to immigrate to Canada to buy their business which, in turn, helps expedite that person’s application. They use it as a stepping stone to a new country and a new life. Malcolm has a customer list of about 300 names, mostly in the providence of Ontario. In addition to shoe repair and retail stores, he also supplies individuals and small manufacturers of belts, purses, and dog goods. He stocks buckles and other hardware. He carries a modest supply of leather and lots of shoe findings like zippers, abrasives, glues, polishes, water proofers, nails, heels, soles, etc. He’s also a distributor for C. S. Osborne tools. Shop Talk!

One of his more interesting items is a 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs.) tin of shoe polish! He calls it his “kilo-tin” which cost $24C. That’s a lot of polish!

Just about a block down the street from Capital Findings is Moore-Pearsall, the Tannery Warehouse for Wickett & Craig in Canada. It is also the headquarters for Banks Bros. & Son, Canadian hide brokers, which owns both Wickett & Craig as well as Moore-Pearsall. Tony Derohanesian is over the Warehouse and gave me a quick tour of the 10,000 sq. ft. facility—lots and lots and lots of leather! Tony explained that they carry the full range of Wickett & Craig leathers as well as a number of leathers they import such as a lovely upholstery/garment leather all the way from New Zealand. Lots of classy colors with a nice pull-up that would also make lovely chaps and bags. He also has shoe upper leather. If you need it, just give Tony a call! This handsome guy is David Freedman, 49-years-old, a sixth generation harness maker. That’s right—six generations. Three in Poland and three in Toronto starting with his grandfather in 1910. Shop Talk!

David owns Freedman’s, one of the most famous harness shops in the world. David’s customers are the very wealthy, the very famous, and the very aristocratic. While about 75% of his sales are in the US, his exquisite work also finds its way to England, France, Germany, Austria, Holland, Belgium, Portugal, and Oman, among other places. About two days before Canada Day, David and his crew were making four new lead traces for the postilion harness used to pull the vehicle in which Canada’s Governor General would be riding. The Governor General is Canada’s highest ranking official. The traces were 13’ 6” and sewn 8 spi on a Randall—that’s the machine that Freedman’s uses to sew all their work—when it’s not sewn by hand! According to David, precise handstitching is at the heart of his work. And he should know. Even though he’s a successful businessman and harness maker to the stars, David still works at the bench and does repair work at most all of the many, many, many shows he attends in the US and abroad. When he travels he always takes his needles, thread, wax, and awls with him. Davis started working with his father, Sam, when he was fourteen and did nothing— nothing—but handstitch until he was seventeen or eighteen. He never even picked up a knife before then. David takes a very traditional approach to leather work, one which august 2013 |


suggests a much earlier period that demanded craftsmen to be supremely skillful individuals who concentrated solely on the individual work at hand. Expediency and costcutting are not the principles which guide the work habits of his people; rather, it’s the perfect execution of even the least important stitch. Given that dedication and the

importance of the organic and intimate relationship David believes there must be between man and material, he speculates that the essence of the trade has changed due to the wide spread use of coated webbing and other synthetic products. Shops have gotten away from the traditional skills and the notions of craftsmanship that once defined leather workers. Still, David is thoroughly modern in his approach to business and costing. For each style of harness he makes, in each size, and in each level of quality, David has a spread sheet or graph by which he can determine the cost. As

you can imagine, there are dozens of variations and combinations but, with a few key strokes, he can pull a list of all the materials needed and all the relevant costs. It’s a very impressive and very detailed system and another reflection of his commitment to the highest level of professionalism. The system also allows him to respond to his customers

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Shop Talk!

1,500 sq. ft. store/warehouse in the US. David even has a lady harness maker, Suzi, who has been with the company since 1967. That’s 47 years. She started working at Freedman’s when David was a mere 3 years old.

quickly and determine their harness needs, whatever they might be, while also giving a very accurate estimate. It’s one thing that has allowed him to remain versatile which keeps him at the top of his game. He’s able, for instance, to get a complete set of show or fine harness out the door only two weeks after it’s been order— that’s incredible. Like other famous leather companies such as Louis Vuitton (which started out making steamer trunks) and Hermes (which started out making harness), David has branched out into haute couture and makes a line of simply gorgeous bags, belts, and accessories which he stocks in his boutique in Midway, KY, near Lexington—you might be surprised to learn that Freedman’s also makes English cutback saddles which are available at the store along with a selection of their fine or show harness. There are ten people in the Canadian shop and two fulltime employees at the approximately

OK! Let’s head west, out of the big city of Toronto where the country takes over and there are miles and miles of rolling green fields of oats, corn, and wheat. And lots of big sky. What a lovely sight. Time to visit the folks at Aaron Martin Harness in Wallenstein, a little north of Kitchener. We might as well get this out of the way first thing—Ivan Martin runs the business and is partners with the original owner, Aaron Martin. Now Ivan is an Old Order Mennonite, a denomination which most US readers are familiar with. However— there are a few differences between the US clans and their Canadian cousins. Yes, they’re

plain people. Yes, they drive horse and buggy. Yes, they speak German. However, there are some big differences. For example: Ivan has electricity. Ivan uses a smart phone. Ivan has computers which are connected to the Internet, and Ivan’s business has a really good website which generates a whole lot of business. You can call, fax, or e-mail Ivan. No problem. Ivan also puts out an impressive 132 page catalog with about anything a harness shop could ever want and lots more (see “Goods & Services” for a review). If you run a harness shop, tack shop, saddle shop, leather shop, or feed store in Canada, you need one of Ivan’s comprehensive catalogs. Regardless of your age or mode of transportation, everyone is welcomed at Martin’s Harness Hdw.! Here’s Ivan’s parking lot!

Above is the retail area of Ivan’s place.

According to Ivan he works with leather less and less because it’s being replaced by Biothane. He makes both a lot of harness as well as pet supplies out of it. In fact, he is a distributor for Biothane in Canada and carries a huge variety in stock for immediate shipment. One thing that Ivan has done—which seems to be the next thing when it comes to working with coated webbing—is begun using RF (radio frequency) welding to fuse layers of Biothane and thereby obviating the need for parts to be sewn together. No more sewing machines. Ivan can place a folded strap into a jig which holds the part together, insert the jig into the welder, and the layers are fused in about twenty seconds. Interesting! An unique service which Ivan offers is rebuilding the No. 6 or Pearson stitcher. He often has rebuilt models in stock for sale and carries a full line of parts for the machine. From time to time he has other used sewing machines and equipment for sale. At present Ivan has nine full-time employees and he’s happy to admit that the shop has been “very busy.” In fact, he says that “since last fall we’ve been exceptionally busy and feel very lucky!”

Abiove is the back side of Ivan’s new 12,000 sq. ft. building. People may remember that there was a fire in early 2008 which destroyed the whole building.

This is a large piece of equipment that a local mechanic designed and built for fabricating nylon.

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Right across a couple of fields is Ivan’s arch nemesis and hated competitor—Harness Hardware which is owned in part by his brother Levi, 42. Owen Hoover started the business in 1988 but went back to farming in 2010 when he took Levi on as a partner. Like his brother over the hill, Levi puts out a very nice 56 page catalog (see “Goods & Services” for a review)—lots and lots of hardware, most of which he purchases from Shop Talk!

China and Taiwan. He does get some made by Saddlery Hardware in Holyrood, Ontario. He also does business in the US with companies such as Beiler’s Mfg. & Supply, Hillside Harness Hdw., Intrepid, and Keystone Mfg. & Supply. In fact, Ivan sends a truck down to the US once a month to pick up supplies so, if you’ve got something you want to ship down to the US or ship back up to Canada, you might want to give Levi a shout! Like his brother Ivan, Levi has his own machine shop where he makes a few products in-house such as all the heel chains he sells. They cut, bend, and weld each length right there. Something else Levi does a whole lot of is fabricate all different types and sizes of hames. He has 100’s in stock! Levi buys the tubes from Chupp Blacksmith in the US and then finishes them off himself. Here’s something a little different: There’s a wedge or built up portion on either side of the hame bolt. Here’s another shot: Unlike the way many hames are made in the US, Ivan tends to weld the different parts onto the body. In some instances he eliminates the ratchet for adjustment at the top and drills a series of three holes instead. Shop Talk!

Western Rawhide Largest Saddle Manufacturer in Canada Changes Hands


by Nick Pernokas Southwest Media Coordinator

ince 1929, Western Rawhide of Winnipeg has been a fixture in Manitoba, Canada. Founded by the Demetrioff family, it was a small, family run tannery, and harness manufacturing business. In the early 1960’s they began to make saddles as well. By 1987, they closed the tannery to concentrate on the tack business. Today Western Rawhide is a respected wholesaler of pet, saddlery, and tack. They manufacture and export worldwide, about fifty different models of Western saddles and many other items like bridles and halters. Western Rawhide is also a distributor for other companies that produce pet and equine products.

“We make 500-700 saddles a year and are the largest saddle manufacturer in Canada,” says Gregg Demetrioff. This is accomplished with only ten employees in a 36,000 square foot plant. Gregg, along with his wife Joan, are the third, and last, generation of the family to run Western Rawhide. Recently, it was purchased by Jeff Carruthers of Cavalier Equestrian which is located in Stratford, Ontario. This is a win-win situation since nobody in Gregg’s family has a burning desire to carry on the business, and Cavalier Equestrian has wanted to expand into Western products from their predominantly English line of products. This move also lets Cavalier gain a foothold in the manufacturing end of the business. If you have done business with Western Rawhide in the past, you can be assured that things will remain the same for the foreseeable future. Gregg and Joan have both stayed on to help with the transition. Gregg will be an assistant buyer and also act as a consultant. Although 99 percent of Western Rawhide’s business is wholesale, they do have a small store to serve the local area. They also have a handy website for dealer sales only which showcases their many products. If you are looking for a supplier for anything to do with pets or horses in Canada, you can look them up on or call 204-233-7361. august 2013 |


Troy Brass Moves to US For many years now Harness Hdw. and Aaron Martin Harness always showed lovely brass work and an unique array of fine harness hardware in their respective catalogs that were uniquely Canadian, manufacturer by Troy Brass of Cambridge, Ontario. However, that is no longer the case. This past October 2012, there was an American takeover of the company. Lock, stock, and barrel were loaded and trucked south to—Hillside Harness Hdw. Fortunately, the purchase was pretty friendly and no shots were fired. According to John Raber at Hillside the acquisition has “worked out pretty well.” John explained he bought all the machinery and all of Troy’s patterns and molds which are what they were most interested in. Now Hillside can cast about about any size or style of brass hame you might want including fine driving hames as well as the lovely Wheat State hames for draft horses. Of course, they are continuing to make Troy’s complete line of fine harness hardware—decorative shields and ornaments, fancy saddle hooks, buckles, toggles, and more. Yes, they are continuing to make the horse brasses and embossing dies for cheek pieces and uptugs. In fact, if you have a piece of hardware you want made, they can probably copy it. In addition to their fine harness hardware, Hillside makes a lot of carriage hardware, parts for antique cars as well as “hit and miss” engines. And they do custom work—if you need it, just ask! You may contact John at: Hillside Harness Hdw., 4205 Township Road 629, Millersburg, OH 44654, (330) 893-1510, fax (330) 698-3200.

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Shop Talk!

Harvey owns Shetler’s Collar Shop in Conewango Valley, NY, and there’s a good bit of traveling back and forth between the two shops. Who knows, if you’re wanting to ship something one way or the other they might have room. Then in the same neighborhood was Beiler’s Harness Shop in Lucknow. Eli’s father passed away last fall and left this large collection of horse brasses which was a pet project of his. One type of farm hame that Harness Hdw. makes and which you do not see down south is a very rough looking hame with a galvanized finish. Very popular with the local folks. It’s not pretty but very durable and there’s no paint to chip. Like his brother, Levi has a good web site which generates a large portion of his business. While he ships some products overseas, most of his customers are in Canada with the largest portion living in the providence of Quebec—lots of shops and manufacturers there. Not too far away from Ivan’s place is E & L Harness run by Harvey Shetler’s son.

There are supposed to be around 600 brasses in the collection, no two the same. Unfortunately, Ezra Streicher at Ezra S. Streicher in Milverton had closed the shop for the day to attend a wedding— somebody else’s, not his! Sorry to have missed you, Ezra! Ezra is well known for the long rye straw collars he’s made for many years—straps and buckles are laced in place so there are no rivets to rust. Traveling toward Port Hope on the eastern side of Toronto, a lost traveler may find that he’s missed his turn somewhere along the way and drive through Dunnville where they

have on display “Big Dunn,” a 52’ mammoth catfish— It seems that while visiting

family members in Dunnville, 14-year-old Tom Delane from British Columbia threw a line in behind his aunt’s house one night after supper and hooked “Big Dunn”. When asked how he felt about catching the 2.75 ton fish, young Tom said matter-offactly, “I wanted to take it home with us but Dad said it wouldn’t fit in the car.” On to Port Hope! This group of handsome Canadians consists of, from left to right: Brian Jones,

Shop Talk!

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variety of commercial cases which he and Nancy still manufacture. Brian’s career in leather work actually began way, way back in 1972. He was studying at the University of Guelph and, while there, he and three friends decided to open a leather shop called Establo Leather which is still in business today. After a few years Brian married and moved out west to Edmonton where he worked at Welsh’s Saddlery. He started by making Western saddles and stayed there for about four and half years, learning from the older harness and saddle makers with whom he worked. Then it was back to Toronto where he purchased Kirkpatrick’s.

63, Rick Kehoe, and Nancy Jones. Brian and Nancy own Kirkpatrick’s which has been in business since 1881. The company started in Toronto as a harness manufacturer and, at one time, Kirkpatrick’s and Freedman’s were competitors, both vying to equip the many companies in the city which used horses to deliver their goods—things like beer, bread, and coal. In the 1930’s the company started making police goods, sporting goods, and industrial products which Brian continues to make. Then in 1988 Brian bought Kirkpatrick’s. In the late 1990’s, he also purchased Commercial Leather Goods Mfg. which had been founded in 1965 and made a

Brian and Nancy have been in their Port Hope location for about four years—it’s a popular destination for tourists and a good place for their shop. Like most small manufacturers, they make a whole lot of different products as well as do custom work, restoration, reproduction, and even repair. But the thing they are busiest with is police goods—according to Brian, “lots and lots of police goods.” They make ID holders, Sam Browne belts, duty equipment, and holsters. Brian even makes motorcycle leggings which are also used by folks who hunt snakes. He molds the leggings and, when done with sewing on the billets and buckles, dyes them black. Quite an art! While most of his accounts are wholesale, Brian and Nancy have a growing retail business selling bags, belts, briefcases, and accessories that Brian designs. Here’s a lovely leather carryall that

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Brian and his crew of three fulltime and two part-time employees make and sell for only $350C!! That’s a deal—aye?

While Brian runs four Randalls and a 205 Adler for the nylon goods he makes, he has a collection of interesting, antique machines in the shop and in storage. It’s unlikely that any of his customers have ever seen a sewing machine as tall as they are! If nothing else, they’ll take home a happy memory

after visiting the handsome showroom at Kirkpatrick’s. And why not one or two of Brain’s stylish bags as well? What a whirlwind tour and what fun it was to get to know our northern neighbors better! A very BIG THANKS to everyone who took the time to chat about the interesting work they all do! In a few weeks we’ll be sending our Southwest Media Coordination, Nick Pernokas, up to the western part of Canada to interview some of the country’s top saddle makers—should be a great story!

Contact Information Aaron Martin Harness 4445 Posey Ln., RR #1 Wallenstein, ON N0B 2S0 Canada (800) 367-0639 • (519) 698-2754 Fax (519) 698-2420 e-mail: Beiler’s Harness Shop 37781 Belfast Rd., RR #2 Lucknow, ON N0G 2H0 Canada Capital Findings & Leather 160 Tycos Dr., Unit 215 Toronto, ON M6B 1W8 Canada (416) 784-5888 E & L Harness 84512 Lucknow Line Dungannon, ON M0M 1R0 Canada Shop Talk!

Ezra S. Streicher 6645 RD 131, RR #2 Milverton, ON N0K 1M0 Canada (888) 958-2033 ext 122 Freedman’s Harness 101-289 Bridgeland Ave. Toronto, ON M6A 1Z6 Canada (877) 256-7674 • (416) 256-7674 Fax (416) 256-7070 e-mail: Harness Hardware 4410 Lawson Line, RR #3 Wallenstein, ON N0B 2S0 Canada (866) 634-9421 • (519) 698-2638 Fax: (519) 698-2102 e-mail:

Kirkpatrick’s 15 Cavan St. Port Hope, ON L1A 3B5 Canada (905) 885-1883 Fax: (905) 885-1850 e-mail: Shetler’s Collar Shop 5819 Flat Iron Rd. Conewango Valley, NY 14726 Tannery Warehouse 100 Wingold Ave., Unit #7 Toronto, ON M6B 4K7 (866) 232-2081 e-mail:

august 2013 |


Mill Iron Staple Leather Co. Expanding to Serve Western Idaho by Jennifer Fulford, West Coast Bureau Chief—on assignment somewhere in Idaho and Montana


id Keller didn’t get the memo. Retirement means that business takes a backseat. Not so for Sid and his wife, Adrienne, who started a business after retiring, and their venture, Mill Iron Staple Leather in Saint Anthony, Idaho, keeps getting bigger and bigger. Both former U.S. forest rangers, the Kellers decided to retire in western Idaho after spending years in national forest outposts across the country. Keller, who’d learned a little leatherwork growing up on a ranch in Nebraska, at first scratched his head about what he might do in retirement. The forest service offered a transition class, and the instructor told Keller to think back to the thing

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he loved to do when he was fourteen. So Keller thought: leatherwork. “Thinking back, we built belts, we built billfolds. We did all of my dad’s saddle work, ranch work, leather work. So I picked it up and started playing with it, and, oh my, heck, I fell in love with it again,” Keller says. At his farm in Idaho, he began to work on a saddle for a neighbor, a professional horse trainer, Russ Miller. And one saddle turned into another. And another. One customer became many. “It just spread like wildfire,” he says. “This country and southeast Idaho is loaded with horses and horse people.” Shop Talk!

After two years, Keller had too many saddles and leather projects to work on at his farm, so he opened Mill Iron Staple Leather in town. Today, he has converted an old gas station right by the Saint Anthony turnoff at U.S. 20 into his headquarters. At mid-year, 150 saddles had already come in and out of the shop along with many other projects.

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“That’s from total restoration to patch and repair,” he says, though their saddle maker, Beth Hall, recently moved. The property has a retail store carrying the work of local artists, a tack and saddle shop, several computerized stations for burning leather, three industrial laser machines, and an area, formerly the gas station’s car stalls, that houses a leather start-up company for one of his employees. On top of that, Keller just purchased an abandoned roadside motel that abutted one end of his building, and he’s converting the hotel rooms into an office suite for small businesses compatible with his company.

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Granted, this is Saint Anthony, ID, where property is a little more affordable and life a little slower. But Keller is keeping busy because he’s found a niche market. Though he’s busier than he’d like to be. “I have motorcycles that need riding,” he jokes. Sid is a jolly guy. He smiles a lot and is more than slightly bemused about how well the business is going. Instead of the recession Shop Talk!

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she’d never worked with leather before but Sid taught her. On a recent visit, she was finishing the prize halters for the queens at the Jefferson County Stampede, one of several regional rodeos the shop helps out.


slowing him down, he was ramping up. He stopped working on saddles himself and hired a saddle maker to run the repair shop, and she’s already moved on to bigger pastures. Adrienne, Sid’s wife and the reserved one of the mom-and-pop duo, started working on leather to keep pace with orders. She says

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One of the “staples” of the Mill Iron Staple Leather business is its use of industrial laser machines to burn leather. On a fluke, Sid knew of a friend whose husband had bought a laser machine for a pastime (much the same as one might buy a boat and just as expensive). He asked his friend if the machine could cut or burn leather, and sure enough, the machine could. No strings attached. Soon, the friend’s machine was moved from her home basement to the shop, and it’s been a workhorse for the business ever since. “After doing all the tooling, I kept thinking that there had to be a better way of doing it,”

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Keller says, “so we run up and down the country looking for somebody that had lasers that would burn leather, and everybody wouldn’t touch it.” Until Cindy Roland agreed to give hers a try. They use the laser to burn images and words onto custom leather products—pillows, horse breastplates, book covers, spur straps, even leather totems—for customers in and around Idaho Falls. They take orders from local rodeos, youth rodeo clubs and anyone who happens to find out about them. The list of orders for the first laser machine became so long that Sid decided to buy another machine. Now he has three. A little on the expensive side, the machines cost upwards of $25,000 used to $50,000 new. The machines are networked with a computer, where an operator (usually Sid) loads and manipulates images and specs for each product the machines will burn or cut out. There doesn’t appear to be any major high-tech skills required to run the lasers, besides some basic computer knowledge (CorelDRAW) and a few simple Shop Talk!


precautions when operating the machines. It’s as straightforward as laying a piece of leather in the laser, closing the glass hatch, punching a few execute buttons on the computer, and watching the machine hum into gear as it cuts and burns an image. A little like using a fancy copier. “I can take a digital picture, convert it in the software, and I can have it burnt on a piece of letter in incredible detail in 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the detail of the picture,” he says. Made primarily for industrial uses, the laser machines aren’t necessarily designed for leather, and a salesman or two have told Sid that fact, but the machines, made by Universal Laser Systems, are cranking out products every day, double time before Christmas. Keller promotes the latest creations made in the shop on the Mill Iron Staple Leather Facebook page. The company doesn’t have a website. The shop has experimented with all types of leather in the laser machine, most of it sourced from The Hide august 2013 |


House in California. It has also begun tooling the leather after lasering. Keller says lasering is a whole different art form. “We keep several people employed,” he says and houses several businesses under one roof, including Cindy’s Button Company.

straps. There are twenty-one different styles and eight different colors.”


Cindy Roland took the strange call from Sid Keller asking her to experiment with the laser machine that her husband bought after retiring. Keller wanted her to try burning a piece of leather in it. “I used to do a lot of wood,” Cindy Roland says. “John bought it for a retirement thing, and I took it over, and he doesn’t touch it anymore. I was really mad when he bought it.” An RV or boat seemed a better retirement toy. But she repurposed her husband’s laser into a money making venture of her own design. She cuts buttons out of leather in twenty-seven different styles and eight different colors. The laser machine has paid for itself since she put it to good use four years ago. “I sell them to a lot of quilt shops. I started with the buttons, then came up with these,” she says, heading toward a table covered with bunches of leather straps decorated with her leather buttons. “I designed a line of purse 40 |

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The Mill Iron Staple Leather shop, where Cindy runs her button company, uses a machine to cut the straps and another machine to bevel them. Her customers are primarily quilt shops. Products have been shipped worldwide. One of her largest orders was for 2,700 purse straps and 1,700 buttons to one distributor, United Notions. She has at least 200 wholesale accounts. Her husband built her a website, cindysbuttoncompany. com, and she goes through about 300 hides a years, just making purse straps Left to right: Sid and Adrienne Keller and buttons. and Cindy and John Roland Buttons range in price from $3.25 to $2.49 a piece. Purse straps are $15.49. Not a bad day at the office. You can visit Sid and Adrienne Keller at Mill Iron Staple Leather Co., 505 S. Bridge St., Saint Anthony, ID, 83445. Call (208) 313-7868 or e-mail For Cindy’s Button Company, call (208) 569-3266. Cindy Roland’s e-mail is or see her website: Shop Talk!


MaINE’s HaND sEWN sHOEs & BOOts by Lynn Ascrizzi, Staff Writer


omewhere in Japan, Hong Kong or South Korea, a successful businessman, an academic, or a young hipster is sporting a pair of classic boat shoes, hand sewn in Maine, USA. In our new global economy, this cross cultural footwear trend may not appear altogether strange or ironic. Yet, only thirty years ago, Maine’s famed shoe industry all but disappeared due in large part to inexpensive Asian labor. Before the mid-1980’s, Mainers made more shoes than any other state in the nation. But, when cheap imports inundated the market, nearly sixty Maine shoe companies closed and thousands of highly skilled shoemakers were laid off. Now, Maine’s hand sewn, leather footwear manufacturers—namely, Quoddy, Inc., Justin Highland Shoe Co., and Rancourt & Co. Shoecrafters — have been enjoying a surge in sales in, of all places, Asia. Shoe sales to Japan alone currently comprise from roughly 8 to 40% of their market share. That, coupled with other overseas trade in Germany, the United Kingdom,

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Australia, and the like, make up to 60% of total sales for these Maine shoemakers. Although the state’s total number of footwear exports saw a relatively modest decrease between 2010 and 2011, the total dollar value of shoes heading to Japan, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom increased by at least 10 percent, according to Maine International Trade Center data. Maine’s hand sewn shoe exports reflect the recent upswing. But what factors are helping these manufacturers to put their best foot forward? First, online sales and a new consumer have given hand-stitched shoes and boots a global boost. Secondly, these companies are taking full advantage of authentic Maine resourcefulness and built-to-last integrity to promote their products, businesses which include shoe refurbishing services, a contrast to our mass market, throwaway culture. And finally, they recognize that a durable, well crafted product august 2013 |


backed by the manufacturer withstands the test of time. “It always does,” said Quoddy president, John Andreliunas, of the renewed appreciation for premium handmade footwear. “We’ve tripled the size of our workforce since 2010. People are not so much into making a fashion statement. The new values are much more about investing in quality. You’ll buy one pair of Quoddys to three pairs of a shoddy shoe. The classics are always in style.” Quoddy has a long history of traditional craftsmanship, a brand created in the mid1930s. Company headquarters is located on the shores of Passamaquoddy Bay, in Perry, ME. Its 15,000 sq. ft. production facility is based in Lewiston, home of the state’s historic shoe industry. Currently, the company has more than 40 full-time and several part-time employees.

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Tools of the shoemaker’s trade haven’t changed much in 100 years. Photo courtesy Quoddy, Inc.

Compared to mega shoe manufacturers, their output is relatively low volume, averaging about 20,000 shoes annually. “We measure everything in dozens, not thousands, unlike mass market

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products. Ours is much more of a premium product,” he said. For Quoddy, the Asian market began to open more than ten years ago and currently makes up about 20 percent of company sales. “The Asian market, especially Japan, was among the first to embrace American heritage brand shoes, long before the U.S. consumer. The Japanese consumer seems to appreciate well crafted products. Visitors from Japan have even arrived in Perry by bus, looking for Quoddy hand-sewn shoes,” he said of the travelers who bring new meaning to the familiar Maine expression, “folks from away.” “Quoddy footwear is sold by a single Japanese distributor,” Andreliunas explained. Other overseas sales are generated by the Internet, and their products are shipped directly to consumers in over eighty countries. “We have a lot more reach than in the past. It’s so much easier for a customer in Asia to access our products,” he said. Although the company’s biggest market is in the United States, they do an equally strong business throughout Eurasia, which besides Japan, includes sales in the UK, Germany, Indonesia, and Australia. Their combined foreign market makes up about 50% of sales. Quoddy produces its own distinctive brand of footwear. Dozens of hand sewn styles bear their label, including Boat Mocs, Boat Shoes, Lodge Moc Slippers, Kennebec Chukkas, Maine Woodsman Boots, and more. “Our most popular shoe is the classic, hand sewn Oxford or Bluker. The more traditional moccasin styles, 828.665.7060 828.665.7067 fax 1.877.665.7060 order line

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such as Grizzly Moc, Ring Boots and Tracker Boots, are still a significant portion of our sales,” he added. The company’s moccasin construction is unique, Andreliunas pointed out. “It’s the way we build our product. They’re made with the best materials. They become so broken in to your own foot—they become part of you. The leather surrounds like a glove for your foot. Less expensive shoes are made with lots of pieces and glue. We use large swaths of leather to envelop the foot and stitch them together.” Yet, traditional styles are also tweaked. Shoes are crafted in different leathers, like veg versus chrome leather. For example, besides offering the men’s Boat Moc in brown leather, there’s the newer, bolder Boat Moc Tricolor made of dark red, white, and Navy blue leathers from Horween in Chicago. “We have many different kinds of soles, like the basic camp sole—a Maine thing—or hand sewn crepe rubber soles. Or we’ll use split suede lined


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with glove tan, a thin glove leather from Gloversville, NY. We’ve mixed leather and fabrics. We innovate with different materials,” according to Andreliunas.

The majority of Quoddy’s customers are male, a tendency that runs counter to current market trends. “Women buy 80% of the footwear in the world,” Andreliunas noted. “Look at a Quoddy gets all its leather woman’s closet and a man’s from the US, from places like closet. The average woman Tasman Leather Group, LLC, owns twenty-six pairs of based in Hartland, Maine, shoes. But the men’s market and Horween Leather Co., in is changing. That market Chicago, IL. Suede is purchased is growing. Men are more from The Hide House in Napa, fashion conscious, shopping CA. “Like us, they’re not in for themselves. It’s like waking the volume game,” he said of a sleeping giant of market ophis leather suppliers. “They Shoe crafter at Justin Highland Shoe Co., Brewer, portunity.” supply high quality leather to ME, closes seams on a hand sewn boat shoe. This predominately premium brands.” Photo courtesy of Justin Highland Shoe Co.

Threading a Long Career by Lynn Ascrizzi, Staff Writer To Rusty Vallee, the tie that binds him to life and work is simply this—countless skeins of heavy waxed thread for hand sewing shoes, the signature product of his business, Maine Thread & Machine Co. of Lewiston, Maine. “We supply the world with waxed thread,” Vallee said, with the confident satisfaction that comes from twenty-eight years of hands-on experience. “It’s the kind of heavy thread you see on boat shoes or on a Sebago moccasin or Sperry Top-Sider — thread that is wrapped on a wooden last and sewn by hand. You can see the row of stitching. Higher end shoes are sewn by hand,” he said. Maine Thread is a third generation family business with eight fulltime employees. Since the late 1960’s, the company has occupied the historic Pepperell Mill site, a monolithic brick factory that was originally a bleachery for the textiles industry in the late 1890’s. What is manufactured there today in the company’s 16,000 square foot workspace, he points out, is not just any thread. “It’s got a tapered end on it. Way back in the day, they used flax or linen. It’s not as strong,

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not as durable. With this polyester Dacron thread, it would take two cars pulling in opposite directions to break it. The whole secret is a taper on the thread. It tapers down, or thins down, to a fine, hairline point. So, when a person is sewing a shoe by hand, they can thread both ends of the thread.” To hand sew a shoe, a shoemaker threads two needles, one on each end of a length of thread, he explained. During the sewing process, holes are also made in the leather with an awl. Next, both needles are pushed through the same hole so the threads cross—one from the back and the other one from the front of the work. Then each stitch is tightened. “They do it by practice and by eye. Every hand sewn shoe is a bit different. It’s a craft, an art,” he said. Vallee is a guy who knows his thread. “Every thread has its own purpose,” he explained. “You would never use our thread to sew up a fireman’s jacket. It’s going to melt! Our brand name of hand sewn thread is called Teklon. We buy yarn (a thin, very strong filament), and we have it dyed to whatever color we want. Then we ply up each yarn to a certain thickness.” Turquoise waxed thread manufactured by Maine Thread & Machine Co.

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male customer base is equally true for Justin Highland and Rancourt & Co.

Back-to-Roots Craftsmanship “It’s a rare skill these days. It’s at the core of what we do,” Andreliunas said of the art of hand sewing shoes and finding expert hand sewers is an ongoing challenge. “A lot of our hand sewers are third and fourth generation. We do have a few young workers. We’re getting support from the state to create jobs, through programs like Governor’s Training Initiative (GTI) and Work Opportunities Unlimited. Everyone wants to bring this skill back. It’s a wonderful tradition,” he said. Adam Sutton, manager of the newly named Justin Highland Shoe Co., a 49,000 square foot facility in Brewer, ME, echoed this need for skilled hand

sewers. “Sales have increased. But we can’t put more shoes out. If I could make more, I could sell more. Capacity is my issue. I’m always in a backlog,” Sutton said. Competent hand stitchers are not easy to find or train, he added. “I have an older worker, a woman who is age 72—one of my best sewers. She trained her grandson, age 21.

Maine Thread & Machine Co. supplies the world with waxed thread The company sells these skeins or “hanks” mainly in bulk to big factories all over the world. Customers include manufacturers in El Salvador, India, China, the Dominican Republic, Hong Kong, Mexico, and Indonesia. Its thread is also sold locally to Maine hand sewn shoe manufacturers, like Quoddy, Inc., Justin Highland Shoe Co., and Rancourt & Co. Shoecrafters. “Our biggest buyer is Indonesia and Hong Kong. Seventy-five percent is shipped overseas —the rest to America,” he said. But thread is not just sold in bulk. About ten years ago, during an economic downturn, Vallee decided to make a “small put-up,” as he called it, and offer thread on 70 yard spools. “We offer it in six different sizes, in thirty-one colors. So if somebody wants a couple of spools, say, of red or brown, they can buy the same thread we sell to factories. We’re big enough to supply the largest shoe factories in the world and small enough to send out a personalized card with waxed thread samples to people all over the world,” he said. Selling in smaller quantities has given the business a sizeable boost. “We’re growing at a pretty decent rate. Over the last three or four years, we’ve grown 10% per year. The expansion into spools of thread has mostly contributed to our branching out to different Shop Talk!

markets, for example, to crafters who make jewelry or baskets. Our thread also ends up in some of the large craft stores like Hobby Lobby, A.C. Moore, and Michaels Stores. That also has helped our business,” he said. Although hand sewn thread is the company’s foundation, Maine Thread also sells hand tools from C.S. Osborne & Co. of Harrison, NJ. “They’re more for the professional leather worker or people passionate about working leather on the cottage industry level. It keeps us busy. Twenty percent of our business is spools and tools,” he said. The company was founded in 1958 by Vallee’s grandfather, Alfred Baril. His dad, Ronald Vallee, was company president from the 1980’s to the 1990’s. Now in his early 70’s, he works every day, handling customer service, the sample thread cards, and inquiries for new products. “I’m proud to be from Maine, to carry on my grandfather’s footsteps,” Vallee said. “I grew up in it. I started out cutting and twisting thread on the first floor of the workshop. Now, I can admire the folks who are working on that.” For more information or complimentary sample thread cards: Maine Thread & Machine Co., 550 Lisbon St., Lewiston, ME 04240, (207) 784-7770, sales@mainethread. com, august 2013 |


A lot of people who are hand sewers are older, ready to retire. I don’t want to lose the stitchers I have. We’re always looking for hand sewers. That’s our bottleneck. We’re two to three weeks behind on hand sewing.” Meanwhile, as history repeatedly has shown, big changes are always afoot in the shoemaking industry. In early May, the former Highland Shoe Co.,

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LLC, was purchased for an undisclosed price by Texas-based Justin Brands, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary managed by Warren Buffett. This recent purchase is Justin Brands’ fourth manufacturing facility whose divisions include Justin Boot Co., Tony Lama Boots, Nocona Boot Co., Chippewa Boot Co., and Justin Original Boots, according to a May 9, 2013 article in the Bangor Daily News. “What we’ve done will allow us to grow and produce the kind of footwear we’ve been known for — quality, Maine hand sewns,” Sutton said of the recent sale. The purchase also includes an employee benefits package, making the business more attractive to workers. Highland will continue production from its Maine facility — crafting more than 400 pairs of top-line, handmade shoes and boots weekly, or roughly 25,000 pairs annually, for labels like Sebago, Red Wing, Ralph Lauren, Converse, Wolverine Worldwide, and Timberland. Currently, the company is making dress




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casuals for Sebago. “We ship some to warehouses in Europe and the balance goes to their US warehouse,” he said.

“We’ve tripled the size of our work force, since 2010. It’s solely due to the success of the company and the expansion of our website business…. We sell to a select group of premium retailers all over the world.”

twelve workers and now have thirty-two full-time employees, seven of which are hand sewers. Some cut leather, some get pieces ready for the stitching room, some do the soles, others work in the packing room. There are a whole lot of steps involved. In stitching alone, there’s in excess of 100 different operations for one pair of shoes.”

Sutton’s history with shoe manufacturing began in 1986, when he sold leather to the shoe industry. But about eleven years ago, when Ansewn Shoe Co. of Bangor, ME, shut the doors of its 100,000 square foot factory, he took a chance That kind of skilled labor and scooped up everything left helps explain the prices of after the Ansewn auction for —J ohn AndreliunAs, Quoddy, inc. premium brand, handcrafta mere $1,000. “I got a lot of ed shoes. Highland shoes different stitching equipment range from $225 to $700-plus for footwear and bought all the leftover dies. If you put a built from specialty leather. A few years ago, value on the dies alone, that would be $100,000 the company crafted boat shoes made with to $200,000. I spent another 50 grand on new alligator leather for Ralph Lauren. “The machines.” suggested retail — $3,200. We made thirty-five He bought the equipment with the hopes of pairs,” Sutton said. getting into shoemaking. But first he began manufacturing leather belts with his new company, Highland Belts and Fine Leathergoods, LLC, a business he still owns and operates. Not long after that, he expanded into making shoes. “I knew a lot of the people in the business. I always felt there was a real opportunity,” he said. But, the startup was slow. “We felt happy,” said Sutton, “if we were shipping out 180 pairs of shoes per week. Now, if we don’t ship out two to three times that amount, we’re pretty unhappy. We started with

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To date, Highland’s hottest export market is Japan. “Probably about 40% of our sales are made in Japan. About 60% altogether is exported to foreign countries. If I were a betting man, I’d say China will be the next big market for luxury goods and brand-name clothing. L.L. Bean opened up a store in China. Sperry is selling their made-in-USA boat shoes for $320 per pair, in the US, but their biggest market is Japan. One problem with the Japanese market, though, is the exchange rate. The yen is down. The product becomes more expensive. That’s a concern to people selling in Japan,” Sutton explained. Sutton knows that classic quality sells. “It’s the style and comfort. I think they’re pretty darn comfortable,” he said of Highland shoes. “And it’s the handwork look. It’s a look and feel. The shoes and boots are easily repairable …It’s all about ‘Made in Maine’. It’s that whole, get-back-to-roots craftsmanship. It’s a very effective marketing strategy.”


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Made To Fit Rancourt & Co. Shoecrafters of Lewiston, ME, is a family business operated by president and cofounder Michael Rancourt. He traces his long history with the shoe industry to his father, David Rancourt, who bought Marchand Moccasin, formerly of Lewiston, in 1964, a company later bought by Quoddy. In 1982, Mike and his dad founded Down East Footwear, eventually purchased by Cole Haan. In 1992, Mike and his wife Debbie launched the Maine Shoe Co., later bought by AllenEdmonds. Then, several years ago, Rancourt bought back a portion of that business from Allen-Edmonds and started Rancourt & Co. “I never left the shoe business,” Michael Rancourt said of his circuitous career. “Now, my son Kyle works with me.” Today, the company manufactures shoes and boots for its own Rancourt brand and for private labels like Red Wing, Foot Joy, Sperry, and Ralph Lauren. Rancourt & Co. employs fifty-seven full-time and five part-time workers. Recent growth has been strong, but this year they aim to closely manage the surge. “In 2012, our business was up 30% from 2011. This year is flat, compared to 2012. We’re refining our process. We’re not looking for more growth in 2013,” he said. “We’ve been selling to Japan for about twentytwo years now,” Rancourt said, reflecting on his many years in the business. “It waxes and wanes. The Japanese love authentic things. In the last two years, our shoes have become very popular in Japan again. The buyers are in the Lasting Quality and Style Matte Finishes Many Colors

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25-to-35-year-old range. Authenticity, location, and storytelling are important to that generation. The Japanese are so fashion forward.” Last year, the company made about 45,000 pairs of hand stitched shoes. “About 8% of our total business comes from Japan. Recently, we began shipping into South Korea. It’s not a big volume— about 200 pairs. They just started to learn about ‘Made in Maine’. Now they’re coming back for reorders. We get inquiries from China, too,” he said. A distinctive Rancourt & Co. touch is its innovative leather variations and finishes. Leathers include shell cordovan (horsehide), Chromexcel, and bison. Suedes come in sophisticated colors, like Walnut Orion, Peanut Calico, Mohave, Taupe, Snuff Repello, and Mushroom. Venetian loafers are offered in traditional brown and black, or, for the stylin’ crowd, in brilliant Kelly green, orange, red, yellow, and white. Prices for shoe styles—from boat mocs to boots— range from $227 to $675. “It’s not about pricing. It’s the long lasting value,” said Rancourt. “In the Asian market, authentic, traditional styles are what people understand. They can send them back

to us ten or fifteen years later for a new sole or tip. We fix everything ourselves.” A recent innovation his son Kyle came up with last fall is the Made To Fit service. Geared for the online buyer, it works like this: A collection of their shoes are made only for fit trials. Customers are sent two pairs of shoes at $50 apiece, with a promise to return the shoes. They try them on to see if one pair works better than another. After the shoes are returned, they are credited $50 toward a new pair in the style of their choice. “It takes the guessing out of fitting. It’s been very successful. So many shoes have gone out, we don’t have enough inventory for the fit trials, so we’re making additional trial shoes,” Rancourt said. Like Quoddy and Highland, most of Rancourt & Co.’s customers are men. “We just started to produce women’s shoes. We make about 500 pairs per year. The one thing they (the customers) all buy is boat shoes. They may look different from lining to sole, but the boat shoe is our number one style.”

pp For more information:

Quoddy, Inc. John Andreliunas, President 1015 US Route 1, P.O. Box 129 Perry, Maine 04667 USA (207) 853-2488 Fax: (207)-853-4406

Justin Highland Shoe Co. Adam Sutton, Manager 48 Atlantic Ave. Brewer, Maine 04412 (207) 989-1752

Highland Belts & Fine Leather Adam Sutton, Owner 48 Atlantic Ave. Brewer, Maine 04412 (207) 989-2597

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Rancourt & Co. Shoecrafters Michael Rancourt President & Co-founder 9 Bridge St. Lewiston, Maine 04240 (855) 999-3544

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Where Are Your Manners? One thing that employees have told me over the years—time and time again—is how much they like working with our readers. Most folks are very polite and a pleasure to deal with. And we work hard to “do it right the first time”! If we goof up—which we do from time to time (sorry!)—then we apologize and do our best to make it right. It seems in the past few years, however, with the widespread use of e-mail, that some folks just have forgotten their manners and are tempted to say things which are uncalled for and, to be honest, offensive. Most likely if they came in your shop, home, or office and began saying the

same sorts of things they feel free to write in an e-mail, you’d ask them to leave—and please don’t come back. I admit to being guilty of having done this sort of thing myself on several occasions, all of which I have been ashamed of and heartedly regretted. So that might be a good “rule of thumb”: if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, then don’t write it in an e-mail. You never know—you just might have the pleasure of meeting that person someday. The old saying is still true: You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. So maybe harsh words and snide remarks won’t help you accom-

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plish what you really want to accomplish; rather, those sorts of unnecessary comments are selfdefeating with the added bonus of having burnt a bridge that one day you may regret. Is it really worth it? And do you really want to learn that lesson the hard way?

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Beiler’s Mfg. On the Move! The new address for Beiler’s Mfg. & Supply is 3025 Harvest Dr., Ronks, PA 17572. Their fax number is (717) 768-0097. Effective immediately—please update your records to reflect the changes. All phones remain the same.

Holster Issue We are working on an issue that features holsters and holster makers, and we are asking anyone and everyone who makes holsters to please send us a nice picture or pictures of your work—high reso-

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lution please! Don’t delay, send us something today either via e-mail or a photo and thanks! Contact: Shop Talk!, PO Box 17817, Asheville, NC 28816, (828) 505-8474, e-mail: shoptalk@

Big Tool Sale—Oh, Boy! That’s going to take place this coming October and my, oh, my—it’s shaping up to be a whopper! It’s odd how the sale changes from year to year. Sometimes we just don’t have many hammers but this year we’ve got quite a few and they’re mostly shoe making hammers which is even stranger! In fact, we have more shoe making tools than normal. We don’t have too many really nice collectibles but a whole lot of just plain used tools that will be ready to use and priced right. We’ve got an extra nice selection of compasses and groovers. We have a whole sandal shop for sale—all the clicker dies, patterns, and lasts for men, women, and kids. We have a lot more books than normal. We have a few more spoke and leather shaves than usual. As I look over the boxes of

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tools waiting to be cleaned up and sharpened, I see quite a nice selection of slot punches, round punches, and end punches. I guess we have the largest and most interesting assortment of stamping tools ever. Most are pretty run-of-the-mill but we have quite a few stamps with logos, brand names, and images that you don’t see too often. There are a few more splitters and skivers and other bench machines which we don’t come across very often. So all in all, it should be a pretty good sale! Like we say every year— There’s something for everyone!

For Sale: Yoder’s Collar If you’re thinking about going into the collar business, then you had better give Rueben at Yoder’s Collar Shop a shout! Call (641) 442-2517. That’s HORSE collars!

Sales & Auctions—Plan Now!! Hey! If you have an auction or sale coming up and are thinking about running an ad in Shop Talk!

Buena Vista Blankets New Item

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All Types of Horse Blankets Custom Made Harness Pads S-L-O-W Feed Hay Bags Give us a call: (717) 442-0164

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then you need to have your ad in the magazine at least 60 days before the event. 60 days. That’s the policy! So get ahead and plan ahead and give us a shout! Thanks! Contact: Shop Talk!, P O Box 17817, Asheville, NC 28816, (828) 505-8474, e-mail:

New Antique Leather and Bindery Tool Auction This online auction ended June 18. For the next sale please check or write: Bindery Tools, 285 Lausch Rd., Denver, PA 17517. The latest auction included a variety of hand tools, bindery tools, and bench equipment— even an Army saddler’s chest.

Fiberglass Hosses If you’ve ever wonder, “Where can I get one those big fiberglass horses?” then look no further. Just give the folks at Supreme Western Products a yodel! They have different full-size models as well as wall mounted heads. They even carry full-size cows and bulls! They’re easy to feed and will never stampede. Nothing to shovel up either. Contact: Supreme Western Products, P O Box 531441, Grand Prairie, TX 75053, (800) 628-2712,

Harness Makers’ Get-Together This year’s auction will take place on July 18 and the Get-Together on the 19th. The auction is always a full day event because there’s always

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a lot of stuff to sell and there’s always something for everyone regardless of the sort of leather work you do—shoe repair, saddle making, belt making, and, of course, harness making! This is the 44th Get-Together and it will be hosted by the fine folks at Hilltop Tack Supply, 133 Welding Dr., Rebersburg, PA 16872, (814) 349-4479. There’s always an impressive group of vendors at the Get-Together, demonstrating an impressive array of wholesale products, equipment, and supplies—everything from horse medications to sewing machines! It’s a great place to meet a whole new type of clientele. And it was GREAT to see all the tanners and leather suppliers back at the Get-Together last year. They’ve been keeping a low profile for a few years so it’s nice to see them coming back and pressing the flesh—we missed you!

ANPIC The most important and largest leather, footwear, and accessory show in North America is ANPIC which takes place in Leon, Mexico, a city that

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Call Toll Free ~ Nationwide

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boasts 100’s of tanneries and dozens of shoe and boot factories. The show attracts vendors and attendees from around the world. Normally, ANPIC takes place in early November. Dates for the 2013 show have not yet been posted but you may check their website which is www. or e-mail: While vendors cater primarily to manufacturers of footwear, you will also find booths offering heavier weights of chrome and veg in many styles and finishes as well as heavy veg leathers including belting, sole leather, and skirting. Always a great show with lots of exotic leathers as well.

Make Hay!! Cowfriends & Amigos—it’s summer and the living is easy! But you can’t be a silly grasshopper and just live off the fat of the land until autumn winds blow! My advice is to take every opportunity that comes your way and run ads in each and every rodeo, farm show, and county fair program in a 50 mile radius. I’d give prizes or gift coupons to every winner at every FFA

event and horse show in your area. True—you might be busy but things could slow down in six months and the advertising you do now could pay off. One thing I can guarantee—you’ll never know unless you try! After all—it doesn’t cost that much, it’s great PR, and it keeps your name in front of people who could become customers.

Reflocking and English Saddle Classes To get the details for the next classes, please contact Annette Gavin at 1684 Hendershot Rd., Warfordsburg, PA 17267, (717) 294-6757, www.

If You Snooze, You Lose! If you’ve been meaning to and putting it off year after year after year and never getting around to having a saddle ready to take to Wichita Falls, TX, for the Saddle Contest that takes place at the Roundup, then you had better give your sorry self a shake and get busy, Lizzie! October is NOT as far away as you might think.

We stock over 1,000 types & colors of leather!

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embossed Cow Sides, garment & Hair-On Hides, genuine Buffalo, genuine Salz Latigo, Harness Leather, Metallic Cow Sides, Patent Leather, Skirting, Strap & Upholstery Leathers Complete line of decorative accessories & full line of leather crafting tools.

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Benefits of becoming a preferred customer: Very best pricing for the leathers you use the most. Receive immediate notification of leathers going on sale. Added luxury of choosing only leathers that interest you, thus eliminating unwanted emails. Notification of new products and services as they become available ensures the personal service you deserve. Logon to 595 Monroe St., Napa, CA 94559 888-HIDE-HOUSE Fax: 800-255-6160


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Every year the Roundup hosts a really fine saddle making contest and contestants—men and women, girls and boys—who vie for some serious prize money and other goodies. This year’s Roundup will take place on October 4-5. For all the details about what you need to do to enter, please contact Jim Taylor at (817) 625-2391, Texas time. Jim is the Shop Manager at Luskey’s/Ryon’s. I haven’t seen anything by Troy West for a couple years now and I guess I scared him off when I let him know that I was thinking about entering one of my own “special creations”. Troy—I’m calling you out! Either show up with a saddle or put on your spurs and start scratching with the chickens! Here are the categories and contest rules: Beginners—This is for people’s first saddle which must have been started after last year’s Roundup. Open Floral—Saddles entered in this category will be full or partial floral or oak leaf tooled. Geometrics (baskets, running W, waffle, etc.) may be incorporated. Prizes will be awarded for Best Workmanship and Best Tooling. Open Plain or Geometric—Saddles entered in this category will be full or partial smooth out, rough out, or geometric stamped (basket, running W, waffle, etc.). Saddles with tooled floral, tooled oak or decorative knife cuts must compete in the Open Floral Category. Prizes will be awarded for Best Workmanship and Best Tooling. Novice—This category was created to encourage less experienced saddle makers to show their work and compete on their own skill level. All saddles are eligible if the saddle maker has five years or less leather working experience, not by the number of saddles you’ve made. This is a true novice class. Prizes will be awarded for Best Novice. Best of Show—The saddle judged Best of Show may come from any of the above categories.

Cowboy Makers. It’s scheduled to be held this

coming December 9-13 in Las Vegas, NV, during the National Rodeo Finals. Very top notch. Contest categories include: boots, braiding, chaps, engraving, hats, leather carving—purse, leather carving—rope bag, saddles, spurs, and cinch. For all the details, you can look at or write: Art of the Cowboy Makers, 5527 N. Union Blvd., Suite 103C, Colorado Springs, CO 80918, (719) 247-0062.

5th Annual Maker’s Contest This is a contest opened to makers of Western accoutrement and is sponsored by Art of the Shop Talk!

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New ACRE Summer Show 2014, Inc., announces the addition of ACRE Northeast, a summer craft trade show, which will be held Aug. 12-14, 2014, at the New Jersey Convention Center in Edison, NJ. ACRE Northeast will be located just 35 miles from New York City and 19 miles from the Newark Liberty International Airport. This show will close a day before the opening of NY Now (formerly New York International Gift Fair), allowing buyers the opportunity to shop both shows with one travel budget. For more information please call (888) 427-2381 or visit

Carriage Makers’ Get-Together Yes, buggy builders get together to swap tall tales just like harness and saddle makers! No matter who you talk to they’ve all built carriages for either Disney World or Anheuser-Busch! Ha! Or both. This year’s gathering will be on July 19th at Nolt’s Carriage Shop, 750 Mud Level Rd., Shippensburg, PA 17257. Most of these folks upholster their own work which means they run sewing machines and need needles and thread!

Leather Training in the US By popular demand, BLC Leather Technology Centre Ltd., a world leader in leather expertise and materials testing, is presenting a “One Day Understanding Leather” training course in three US locations. The course provides an insight into where leather comes from, leather production, leather types, how and why we test leather, and an overview of what can go wrong. Attendees will also be helped to understand and identify defects in leather and what may have caused them. There will be an opportunity to discuss any issues you may have been faced with in your professional role. Hopefully, the course will help buyers communicate better with their suppliers and customers. The course looks like it will cost in the neighborhood of $475. It’s scheduled to be held in Boston on September 12; Los Angeles on October 24; and Portland, OR, on October 29. Shop Talk!

For more details and to register, visit www. or contact BLC is based in the UK and may be reached by telephone at +44 (0) 1604 679999.

Southern Saddlery Auction This machinery auction is scheduled for Sept. 28 in Chattanooga, TN. For complete sale bill contact James Cox at (513) 889-0500 or visit ID number is 8433.

On the Lookout. . .

Bill Lerette at (616) 394-8143, e-mail: William., is needing a manual for a Camoga 620 splitter. While we do have a number of Camoga and Fortuna manuals in our library, we don’t have a 620. One suggestion would be to check with the folks at CampbellRandall Leather Machinery (800) 327-9420,

Chuck Hooks is looking for a Blanchard plough

gauge. We don’t know of anyone in the US currently selling Vergez Blanchard tools. Of course, you can always contact them directly via their web site. Dixon makes a very similar sort of plough gauge which most likely could be purchased from Booth & Co. at (978) 531-3730, e-mail: Booth is a US distributor for Dixon Tools.

Harold Dunn at (214) 549-1827 is needing

a manual for a Camoga 400MA band knife splitter. Harold—try calling Campbell-Randall at (800) 327-9420.

Mark Your Calendar!  July 18-19: 44th annual Harness Makers’ Get-Together. Consignment auction on July 18. Get-Together on 19th. Hosted by Hilltop Tack Supply, 133 Welding Dr., Rebersburg, PA 16872, (814) 349-4479.  October 4-5: 25th Annual Custom Boot & Saddle Makers’ Roundup, Wichita Falls, TX. Contact: Eddie or Kathy Kimmel at Kimmel Boot, 2080 County Road 304, Comanche, TX 76442, (325) 356-3197, e-mail: kimmels@cctc. net, august 2013 |




Classified ad rates are $26.50 for the first 20 words and $.65 cents for each additional word. Words (or groups of letters) fewer than three characters are not counted when calculating the cost of the ad. Street addresses are counted as one word. City, state, country, and zip or postal code are combined and counted as one word. Enclose payment when submitting ads. Ads received without payment will be held until payment is made. Ads must be received no later than the fifth of the month prior to the month you wish the ad to run (e.g. ads for the February issue must be in our office by January 5). Typed or neatly printed ads are preferred. We are not responsible for mistakes due to handwriting. Faxed ads must be typed and are accepted with MasterCard, VISA or Discover only.

Wanted: Draw gauges. Any condition. Parts and pieces. Contact: Shop Talk!, P.O. Box 17817, Asheville, NC 28816, (828) 505-8474, e-mail:


Opportunity for a New Adenture in Nova Scotia, Canada? We have a highly successful leather manufacture/retail business with 25 years experience for sale. We are located on the Cabot Trail,, in an area of established artisans.

Wanted: New subscribers from Texas, Arkansas, Iowa, and Idaho. Now is the time to renew! Give us a call at (828) 505-8474, e-mail: or visit

Wanted: Bench equipment. Any condition. Skivers, splitters, pressers, spotters, etc. Also parts and pieces—bolts, frames, springs, blades. We pay shipping. Contact Shop Talk!, P.O. Box 17817, Asheville, NC 28816, (828) 505-8474, e-mail: shoptalk@

For sAle Heavy Duty CONSEW sewing machine 756R. Made in Japan. Good Condition $1,350. Contact: Issac Gingerich, 1256 Howser Rd., Smith Grove, KY 42171.

Present owner plus experienced staff of 5 make contemporary leather products and museum reproductions. Includes equipment, furniture, website, inventory of leather and finished goods. Turnkey operation. 2,342 sq. ft. may be leased from owner or the business can be relocated. Owner is retiring. Contact: Complete Liquidation!!! 100s and 100s of items all priced to sell! Saddles, bridles, halters, buckets, etc. Heavy sewing machines and other equipment. Contact: Ben Day, Western Specialties, 3106 Cedar Dale Rd., Mt. Vernon, WA 98274, phone (360) 424-4464, fax (360) 428-2037. For Sale: Union Lockstitch (serial #6083), reconditioned 2012 with new table. Also, Adler 104, needs minor repairs. $1,360 for

The American Donkey & Mule Society Established 1967—Serving Longears and their owners for over 40 years.

World’s Largest Single Source of Information and Services for all sizes of Donkeys, Mules & Zebra Hybrids. Home of the BRAYER magazine, The Original All-Breed Longear Publication 112 pages bi-Monthly. $23 US, $30 Canada, $35 overseas Ck, MO, Paypal, MC/Visa ADMS, PO Box 1210, Lewisville TX 75067 (972) 219-0781 Email **

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both. No delivery. You pick up. Creekbend Leatherworks, Central Texas. Joe Mingus (713) 824-1775.

six styles of harness from pony to draft, driving, team wagon and mule. Contact: Proleptic, Inc., P.O. Box 17817, Asheville, NC 28816, (828) 505-8474, e-mail:,

Chicago Screw Tool: Install and remove Chicago screws quickly and easily in the shop or on the trail. $16.95 + $4 SH. Call for wholesale pricing. Contact: JP’s Bridle & Equine Tack Tool, 26266 E. County Road 700 N., Easton, IL 62633, (309) 562-7266, e-mail:,

For Sale: Consumers expect more for their dollar. Give them more with Wickett & Craig leathers. Value, quality and durability. Made in the USA. Contact: 1-800-TANNERY—your leather hotline. (03/10)

For all your leather needs. Call Moser Leather (800) 874-1167 or (513) 889-0500. You can visit our website at (R&B)

For Sale: Pricing Guide: “How to Establish Prices for the Saddle Maker and Leather Worker.” Only $39.95 plus $4.50 S&H. Contact: (828) 505-8474. (12/12)

For Sale: The Pro-Concho Turner: The only one in the U.S. Makes removal of decorative conchos a snap! Used with electric drill. Take the fuss and bother out of a difficult job with the Pro-Concho Turner! Saves time, makes money! Rubber gripper protects the concho and makes removal or installation easy. Only $29.00 plus $3.95 S&H, 6-inch steel shank, and rubber gripper. Ready to use! Contact: Proleptic, Inc., P.O. Box 17817, Asheville, NC 28816, (828) 505-8474, e-mail:

Cruppers all sizes—mini, horse, draft. New clutches for line shafts $110 fob. Contact: Miller’s Wholesale Harness & Stitchmaster Machines, 350 Spruce Pine Rd., Columbia, KY 42728.

For Sale: “Making Harness: A Step-by-Step Guide”, $58 plus $5.50 S&H. Specs and instructions on how to make and repair

Shop Talk!

For Sale: New and used Adler, Brother, Consew, Juki, Pfaff, Singer machines for sewing bio-plastic, canvas, leather and nylon. Available in single or double needles, standard, long arm, flatbed, postbed, cylinder arm. Contact: Bob Kovar, Toledo Industrial Sewing Machine, 3631 Marine Rd., Toledo, OH 43609, (866) 362-7397 or (419) 380-8540. (11/10)

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For Sale: Tools for the Professional—Ol’ Smoothie swivel knives, blades, stamping tools, and more. Contact: Chuck Smith Tools, Smith & Co., P.O. Box 2647, Valley Center, CA 92082. (760) 749-5755. Fax (760) 749-5355. E-mail: (R&B) Books by Pete Gorrell (719) 695-4443, e-mail: hpgorrell@ “Floral Pattern Drawing for the Artistically Impaired” $18.95. “The Basics of Saddle Fit” $21.95. “The Business of Saddle Making” $12.50. S&H $3.50. Shipping by USPS rates. Also available from Proleptic, Inc. at (828) 5058474, e-mail:; Leather Wranglers at (505) 269-8563, e-mail:; Sheridan Leather Outfitters at (888) 803-3030. (R&B) for all your leather, tool, and supply needs. Friendly, helpful staff at (507) 932-3795. (R&B) Notice: We will make belts for your store. Wholesale only. For prices call (717) 656-9838. Adler sewing machine for sale. Model 67GA-373. Made in Germany. $500 OBO. Contact: Ezra Hershberger VM (641) 664-2751. For Sale: New brass harness hdw.—gag swivels, trace carriers, layer loops, #200 snaps, #5705 buckles, #545 Conways. Will sell for two thirds of new price. Plus shipping. Write for list and prices: Glick’s Harness Shop, 7412 Blair Rd., Fredericktown, OH 43019. 468 CANAL ST., STE. 201, LAWRENCE, MA 01840

For Sale: Union Lockstitch serial #6150. From Weaver Leather. Six bobbins, wrenches, two extra presser feet, needles, thread, motor, and stand. In excellent working condition. $3,500 or best offer. Contact: (231) 357-3821. Wholesale Suppliers for Harness, parts, blinds, hdw., dull PVC, nylon webbing, and supplies. Also we are now the Western distributor for Weaver Leather’s quality Brahma Webb materials. Give it a try—we are sure you’ll like it! Contact: Countryside Manufacturing, 504 S. Humbert St., Milton, IA 52570, (641) 656-4339. A & E Bonded Poly Thread. Best thread for heavy duty sewing machines. American made since 1893. Leghorn and chocolate. Sizes 277 and 346. White all sizes. Contact: (406) 961-3978, e-mail: or (307) 674-6679, e-mail: For Sale: Pro 2000 with Efka servo motor and speed control. Six extra presser feet. $3,750. Osborne #86 hand splitter. VGC. $495. 5-in-1 for $495. Contact: Chuck Hooks at (425) 743-6387, e-mail:

shoe & boot Business Opportunity: Very well established Show Halter

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manufacturing business for sale by owner. Please Call 503625-1818 or email: Bay City, MI, still needs a shoe repairman. Business for sale. 26 days until retirement. Contact: (989) 327-9165


FREE S through hipping 8/3 (US On 0/13 ly)

Tuck Wax Iron For removing melted synthetic materials. $2.95+SH

Proleptic, Inc. • PO Box 17817 • Asheville NC 28816 Ph (828) 505-8474 • Fax (828) 505-8476 •

The “Word of the Day” is germane . Shop Talk!

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25th Annual



  

Trade Show: Friday, Oct. 4, from 9am-6pm Saturday, Oct 5 from 9am-6pm


MPEC • 1000 5th St • Wichita Falls, TX

$5,000 in Cash Prizes

to be awarded throughout the day on Saturday. Must be present to win.

For Information Contact: Eddie & Kathy Kimmel, Kimmel Boot 2080 CR 304, Comanche, TX 76442 Email: Phone: (325) 356-3197 Fax: (325) 356-2490 62 |

august 2013

ADVERTISERS INDEX A. Lyons.............................................21 American Leather Direct ....................32 Artisan Sewing......................back cover Barta Hide..........................................52 Beiler’s Mfg. & Supply .........................9 BioThane Coated Webbing .................5 Bogle Greenwell Machinery Corp ......21 Booth & Co. .......................................60 Bowden Saddle Tree .........................23 Brayer ................................................58 Brodhead Collar Shop .......................23 Buckeye Engraving............................46 Buckle Barn USA ...............................43 Buena Vista Blankets ........................52 Buggy Builder’s Bulletin.....................48 Campbell-Randall ..............................38 Center Square Harness .....................55 Champion Halter................................52 Charles Hardtke.................................44 Chupp Blacksmith Shop .................... 11 Coblentz Collar ..................................20 Coblentz Supply ................................13 Danny Marlin Knives..........................21 Double K ............................................53 Fairview Country Sales......................46 Feiner Supply ....................................48 Fine Tool Journal ...............................22 Foam-Tex...........................................21 Gfeller Casemakers, Inc ....................47 Goliger Leather Co., Inc. ...................24 Hadlock & Fox Mfg. Co......................16 Hand Plait Leather ...............................8 Hansen Western Gear .......................46 Harness Hardware.............................18 Hastilow Competition Saddles ...........58 Hermann Oak Leather .......................51 Hide House, The................................54 Hillside Harness Hardware, Ltd.back cover International Sheepskin .....................55 Kalico Products....................................8 Kelly-Larson.......................................47 Kimmel Boot ......................................62 Landis Sales & Service......................60

Leather Crafters & Saddlers ..............54 Leather Machine Co., Inc., The .........63 Lewis Sales Co ..................................60 Mud Creek .........................................50 Mules and More, Inc. .........................61 N & A Harness Shop ..........................22 Nick-O Sew..........................................7 Nutra-Glo ...........................................37 Ohio Plastics......................................48 Ohio Travel Bag .................................53 Pecard Leather Care .........................16 Perfectex Plus LLC ............................49 Precision Saddle Tree .......................56 Proleptic ........10, 12, 15, 16, 24, 59, 61 Raphael Sewing Machine/TechSew 11, 61 RJF Leather ............................................49 Ron's Tools ........................................12 Shelton-Reynolds, Inc .......................53 Sheridan Leather ...............................59 Shetler’s Collar Shop.........................22 ShoTan ..............................................59 Small Farmer’s Journal......................61 Smoke & Fire Co. ..............................17 Springfield Leather ............................14 Steel Stamps .....................................20 Sugar Valley Collar Shop...................54 Sun Bias, Inc. ....................................50 Sweat Pad Shop ..........................16, 46 TechSew/Raphael Sewing Machine11, 61 Tennessee Tanning............................60 Texas Custom Die .............................15 Thoroughbred Leather .........................2 TIMCO ...............................................28 Toledo Sewing .....................................3 Waterhouse Leather ............................9 WESA ................................................25 Western Mule ....................................58 Yoder’s Pad Shop ..............................17 Yoder Leather ....................................12

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Shop Talk! with Boot & Shoe News P.O. Box 17817 Asheville, NC 28816 (828) 505-8474 • FAX (828) 505-8476

August 2013

12 Monthly Issues $36 Canada & Mexico $39US Other Countries $54US SHATA Members deduct $4


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Shop Talk! - The Leather Retailers' and Manufacturers' Journal