As I write this, I stopped at Silver Star Leather a few months ago with Gary. He wanted a new belt, and I wanted to price a custom purse.
Gary brought along his old belt, and replaced it with a much nicer new one (that Loren customized by shortening it) for $29. He also got a new buckle put on the old one, so now he’ll have a “work belt” and a “good belt.” The good one should last for a lifetime that way.
I have a cheap nylon purse with lots of bells and whistles on it that I like better than any purse I’ve ever owned… How much for a custom copy in high quality leather? (Answer: about $300—it’s a complicated design! That’s about twice the price of an off-the-rack purse there. I think it might be my birthday present next winter.)
But, they also have lots of other, smaller leather goods that are a big hit with tourists who know quality leather work when they see it. So, even though I mentioned this place in a recent “Off the Beaten Track” post, Gary thought I should give Silver Star Leather a little more attention.
The back story is a good one… Amishman Loren Yoder started off with a harness shop that he purchased from a retiring uncle. But one fateful day his wife Dorcas took a piece of leather into the house and cut out a purse, and the rest is history! Loren no longer makes harnesses. Besides the tourist trade, he has done work for such customers as the Swedish military and the Toledo Police force.
The shop is fully solar powered and is full of good stuff. Most of the retail area has racks of purses and belts. On the long counter separating the retail area from the work area, there are lots of great smaller leather goods in every possible color. I recently bought an eyeglass case there that I really like.
Besides top grain cow leather, Loren uses (and displays on the wall) such exotic leathers as shark, ostrich, python, crocodile, stingray, bison, hippopotamus, cobra, and water buffalo! All these leathers are legally sourced. Loren buys only “CITES-Certified” exotic leathers—that stands for Convention on International Trade in Exotic Species. The wall displays a number of exotic animal hides.
I occasionally do bus tour work (more often I like to do private tours, though), and I’ve brought both here. Groups can schedule a tour online, and it’s quite interesting. The website says this: “We offer tours up to an hour long, during which we will demonstrate how we prepare and fashion our leather goods. This is an excellent opportunity for anyone who’s wanted to see the inside of a leather workshop, ask questions about leatherworking tools, or understand how to make things like belts.”
So ladies, if you’re shopping in Shipshe, and your husband is really tired of girly stuff, take him here for a new belt or wallet! You’ll probably buy something for yourself as well.
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More about Silver Star Leather on their excellent website, found here.