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Stetsons? Saddles? Beds? Berlin Leather & Shoe peddles variety of wares

staff Published: June 1, 2010 4:51 PM
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Anywhere else, finding clothes for small breed dogs, country western decor, leather wares, custom-painted landscape wall-hangings and horse bits might not make a lot of sense. At Berlin Leather & Shoe at Shrock's Amish Farm, it all comes together.

Store manager Firman Hershberger explained that when the store opened five years ago, inventory primarily spanned belts and tack for horses. As he has watched customer demand, Hershberger wanted to accommodate a broader range of goods.

The store currently sells moccasins, harnesses, saddles, custom-made belts, children's toys, pet supplies, oil skin coats and hats, wallets, straw hats, leather care products, locally-made log furniture and western home decorations. Hershberger said the log furniture is made to order from twin to king-size beds.

"It's an all-in-one store," Hershberger said.

Customers who walk through the store won't be able to ignore the yelping of the small dogs kept by the attached pet store. The leather and pet store work with each other so that new dog owners will find all they need to get started (usually at a discounted price) an aisle or two over between racks of cap guns and holsters for the real deal.

Occasionally, a puppy purchase is only an afterthought.

"Sometimes people come in here to buy a belt and then they leave with a puppy," Hershberger said.

Although the store peddles a variety of wares, it has gained its reputation for quality belts that have ranged from a 20 inches to 78 inches in length. Hershberger said he's seen customers returning from Canada just to get a good belt.

Hershberger said the number of travelers hailing from west of the Mississippi who buy western-style goods has surprised him. From his own research, Hershberger found that many of them buy the goods there because it's cheaper. The store offers a wide range of prices because it sells American-made and imported products.

Much of the leather in the store comes from local craftsmen who wholesale their products. After Berlin Leather gets the belt, they can punch extra holes into it and offer personal engraving. Customers may also bring belts back for repair.

"We try to work with our competitors -- we got to keep it friendly competition," Hershberger said. "Customer service is all it is. We try to keep the customer happy."

Berlin Leather also has a house artist. Elmer Yoder, who works at the store, supplies the shop with personalized paintings. Yoder has regular patrons who will bring him photographs of local scenery that he paints rustic landscapes onto canvas, mailboxes and saws.

Berlin Leather is in walking distance from the antique mall and 'Tis the Season year-round Christmas store at Shrock's Amish Farm one mile east of Berlin. For more information about the store, call 330-893-7038, ext. 3


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