Corner of Amarillo and Western

Panhandle Leather by Gene Fowler When calling a contemporary business on the telephone, do you ever long for the olden days when you could actually speak to a real human being? Of course you do. That may be overstating the case…a little bit. But in these dizzy times of automation and virtual, online interaction, the relative lack of actual human contact often leaves me feelin’ a little…well, lonesome. Fortunately, there’s
Artisan Leather

Reflections of Friendship

Robb Barr’s contributions to the leather industry live on in his work   By George Hurst   In over five decades of working within the leather industry, I have had the privilege of knowing and working alongside many of those regarded as legends of the craft: Al Stohlman, Lou Roth, Robb Barr and more. Each of these historical figures have made lasting contributions to our industry that you can still see present in the most
Artisan Leather

Twenty-three Plus Is a Twenty-five! 23+

Joe Meling’s Pendleton Leather Arts and Education Outpost By Gene Fowler Location, location, location. Ordinarily, that overwrought marketing mantra doesn’t apply to most custom leatherwork outfits. Find a spot with internet and mail-order access, and you’re in business. But 23+ (Twenty-three Plus), the leather arts and education emporium operated by Joe Meling in Pendleton, Oregon, has what has to be considered a perfect location. “I can look out my front
Accessories Leather

Texas Leather Trim: Diversity is Key to Survival

By: Liisa Anderassen Greg Cooper, president of Texas Leather Trim, a family-owned and operated business, describes his business as a "manufacturer for manufacturers." He shares that it's gone through many evolutions during the past 50+ years, but says that he's in it for the long haul. Like many small, U.S.-based businesses, Texas Leather Trim knows what its like to change course when product demands dwindle or change and Cooper shares
Accessories Leather


Goliger Leather Company is enjoying a surge in 2021 sales  By Lynn Ascrizzi  Cheryl Rifkin, owner and operator of Goliger Leather Company, Inc. of Ventura, California, has been working with the successful business for over 30 years. “I run the company — everything. I do the books, process the orders, do the invoicing, answer the phone, do collections, check the inventory and figure out how much to order,” she said.  But Rifkin, 66, did not always run the successful family business singlehandedly. Seventeen years ago, unforeseen change came cloaked in shock and loss. Michael Rifkin, her husband of 20 years and then company president, died suddenly on December 5, 2004, at the age of 44.    “We had bought the wholesale leather business in 2000, from Michael’s dad, Marvin Rifkin, who had bought it
Accessories Leather

Big Bob’s Ball Gloves

NOKONA! The Only Baseball Glove Maker in America By: Gene Fowler "Leather is one of the most interesting materials known to man." -Rob Storey Cody. Cheyenne. Tombstone. Silver City. Durango. The landscape of the American West is strewn with place names that evoke region's wild, romantic, storied past. The small town of Nocona, Texas, near the states border with Oklahoma, honors an uncommonly rich legacy. Named for the Comanche warrior-chief,
Leather Supplier

Tools Rule at Leather Wranglers in the Duke City

“It’s All in the Alloy, Son” by Gene Fowler At the Wickenburg, Arizona, leathercraft trade show in 2007, Paul Zalesak—who runs the Leather Wranglers company, producers of world-class leatherwork tools, with his wife Rosa in Albuquerque—realized he had a problem. “I had spent over $30,000 and hundreds of hours researching and developing the blade, barrel and yoke for my swivel knife,” Paul recalls. “People responded very well to the new
Accessories Leather


Y-Knot Lace is built on kangaroo leather’s tensile strength  By Lynn Ascrizzi  Y-Knot Lace is a small business owned and operated by Barb Sorenson, in Kalispell, Montana. She runs the enterprise singlehandedly from the home she shares with her husband, JR Sorenson, a long-haul truck driver. There, in an office space set up in a spare room, she sells her company’s main product — fine kangaroo leather lace.   “I get my lace from Australia — all kangaroo leather,” she said, of the premium product sold in 54-yard spools and 12-yard hanks. “I also sell ‘yarders’ for $1 — 2-to-3 feet of various colored lace. I usually offer these at
Accessories Artisan Leather

Jesse Beckham and the Lost Penguin

 By Nick Pernokas  Jesse Beckham sports a cool Western look that would remind you of the Texas Red Dirt Music scene that’s so popular in the Southwest. The “Open Road” hat that he wears is a tribute to his grandfather’s choice of headwear, but also a nod to his Texas heritage. Like the products he makes, it says that this is what he came from, but not where he’s going.  “I haven’t been a cowboy since I was about 12 years old,” laughs Jesse.  Jesse grew up in
Artisan Boot/Shoe Leather

Pablo’s Way: The Story of Pablo Jass

By Edward Loya  Shortly before his retirement, Ray Jones told reporters that custom western bootmaking was a vanishing art. Ray said none of his apprentices were ready to take his place because they had not yet mastered every step of bootmaking. As Pablo Jass—Ray’s best known and most accomplished apprentice—approaches his 50th year in the business, we know that Ray’s prediction missed the mark. But what does this tell us about Pablo Jass?   Like his mentor,