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Tucked in the nook of County Road 77 and State Route 39, is a large attraction that features several popular businesses in Berlin. As a part of Shrock's Amish Farm and Village, Berlin Leather and Shoe has become a popular stop for western apparel and country home décor.
Firman Hershberger took over management of the store from his brother five years ago and has enjoyed his time running the store. I happen to be a big fan of all things country and western and was delighted to have Hershberger show me around.
"Belts are our main staple," said Hershberger. In fact, a whole wall is dedicated to them. Genuine leather belts are made by the Brenneman family, a local Amish family, and can be customized to fit anyone's needs.
"We carry any size from 20 to 60 inches and we have even had belts made up to 80 inches," said Hershberger. Berlin Leather even has the equipment to punch extra holes into the belts and even press them with your name and other custom designs.
"We carry anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 belts in the store," said Hershberger. These belts range from a simple leather belt, to dressy belts and even a line of Nocona fashion belts. Camouflage belts and rhinestone-covered belts are a big thing according to Hershberger.
Complete your new belt with a brand new belt buckle. A display case near the front of the store displays belt buckles of all fashions for every interest. All belts are made to unsnap and allow for the buckles to be easily interchanged.
"People can try out a belt buckle on a belt they like right in the store and decide if it's what they want," said Hershberger.
A wall-to-wall hat selection is displayed with every kind of hat you could think of for a western shop. Choose from locally made straw hats, traditional cowboy (and cowgirl) hats, leather hats and oil skin hats.
Leather shoulder holsters and knife sheaths are available for the traditional cowboys along with accessories for the modern day cowboy such as: tablet covers, cell phone holders and wallets which can be customized with names or initials.
Leather jackets and clothing are popular among the motorcycle riders who stop by the store and Berlin Leather also carries the Rasco FR brand, flame retardant clothing.
Berlin Leather also offers a small assortment of tack with saddles, harnesses, spurs, bits and bridles. "We sell a lot of pony saddles," said Hershberger.
It wouldn't be a true western shop without an extensive selection of boots. Boots for riding, boots for working, and even boots for fashion are available in popular brands such as Justin, Ariat, Abilene and more.
"We do more women's and children's boots than men," said Hershberger. "The Minnetonka sandals and moccasins are also popular." Hershberger explained they keep the moccasins stocked regularly, as they will sell all year round.
Ladies can stock up on all the essential western accessories with a large selection of Nocona brand purses in camouflage prints and covered in rhinestones and western-styled embellishments. Complete any wardrobe with an oversized, fashion necklace or simple country charm.
Towards the back of the store you will find everything necessary to turn your home into a country-western paradise. From lighting, to belt buckle styled picture frames, cowboy boot knick-knacks and dining room dishes.
Berlin Leather also carries a small collection of log furniture that is handcrafted locally. Small benches and furniture pieces can be purchased and taken home the same day but larger bedroom sets and dining room sets are made to order.
"I would like to be able to keep more furniture in my inventory, but I just don't have the space for it right now," said Hershberger. The made to order pieces make it easy for customers to be sure that a piece will look right and fit into their own homes.
Don't forget the kiddies. A small section of the store offers items for the children with everything from coloring books, to stick horses, to the collectable Breyer Horse toys.
Hershberger has one helper that has a special talent of his own. Elmer Yoder, 19, started working for Berlin Leather five years ago. Fresh out of school, Yoder brought his eagerness to work along with a collection of his own watercolor paintings to sell in the store.
Unlike many of his Amish friends, who would go off to work on the farm, in construction or carpentry, Yoder was in a severe horse accident when he was nearly two-years-old. The accident damaged his spinal cord leaving his right arm impaired and right leg weak.
But that doesn't seem to slow Yoder down one bit as he moves about the store, making sure items are in place and it was not about to keep Yoder from exploring his career interests.
"I have been painting since I was 11 and before that I did a lot of drawing and sketching," said Yoder. His original pieces are always being sought after, but Yoder makes copies of all his pieces in case you are unable to obtain an original piece.
His inspiration comes from the surrounding landscapes and pictures he sees. "Sometimes I just make up a scene. I try to keep some of the pictures local but I mostly just draw something up and see what comes out," said Yoder.
Since Yoder has become an accomplished young painter, he is even offering lessons to other aspiring painters. Yoder takes the time to frame and mat each of his pieces and offers custom framing and matting to customers who want to frame other works of art. "It's just something I like to do."
Yoder is a pretty inspiring young man, as he keeps up with the store, his chores at home and finds time to make his beautiful pieces of art. He is excited to begin helping out at local auctions in the summertime. Becoming an auctioneer has been a dream of his for some time.
You can find Elmer Yoder's watercolor master pieces along with plenty of country western apparel and décor at Berlin Leather and Shoe. Don't forget about that special pet in your life, as Berlin Pet Supplies just next door, offers toys, treats and outfits for your furry friend.
The two stores can be found in the Shrock's Amish and Farm Village complex at 4359 SR 39 in Berlin. Business hours are Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information call 330-893-7038, Ext. 3 or visit www.amishfarmvillage.com to learn about all of the businesses incorporated with Shrock's Amish and Farm Village.