Cottrel: Leather shop a success story

Sometimes we forget we have five senses. Vision, hearing and taste so dominate our world that we sometimes forget the senses of touch and smell.

As I walked though the door of Estelle’s Leather Shop at 60 N. Harrison St. in Enon, the scent of leather pleasantly reminded me of this.

“That’s how you can tell it’s real,” said Jerry Ray, husband of the shop’s owner Ruth Estelle Ray. The aroma of leather filled every corner of the shop.

Estelle’s Leather is an Enon success story.

Estelle Ray’s family has been in Enon for a long time. Estelle Street is named after her grandmother, Ruth Estelle. In 1986 Jerry built their house on Harrison Street and Estelle had a beauty shop, Enon Hair Shop, on the south end of the house.

That is how I first saw it. It was one of the first places I had my hair fixed when we moved here 20 years ago.

After allergies forced her to close the shop eight years later, Estelle was trying to figure out how to use the empty shop space. She and Jerry went for a motorcycle ride and ran across a leather shop that was going out of business. As Jerry explained it, they were asking about the discounts and finally just asked how much it would cost to purchase the entire inventory.

Estelle’s Leather Shop started in the old beauty shop in 1995 with mostly a wholesale inventory. Retail was soon added and every year since then it has grown. Today there are multiple additions and storage buildings, a website — — five employees and a “help wanted” sign out front. Ads in national magazines attract motorcyclists from all over the country.

There is also a motorcycle permanently displayed out front. But don’t let that mislead you. Estelle’s is not just for motorcyclists.

Yes, there are black leather jackets, chaps, saddlebags, vests, gloves, and just about everything a motorcyclist needs including helmets. But there are also leather items, like wallets, belts, cell phone cases and purses, for those of us who drive around on four wheels. Many items are American made and some are made right there in the shop.

Estelle’s is particularly proud of its wide range of styles of belts and belt sizes. Employee Sara Mefford, who is one of the sewing machine operators in addition to working in the store, explained they would make any size of belt that is needed. They can also help design patches with no minimum order.

Estelle’s also handles Tandy Leather merchandise.

People with concealed carry permits come to Estelle’s for holsters, packs and purses with special compartments that lock. Jerry said that some local gun stores refer customers to Estelle’s because of their large inventory for those with permits.

Leather repairs are another popular service offered. Estelle’s routinely fixes purses, belts and jackets, and they have machines that can sew leather as thick as one inch. Estelle’s can also repair tack and saddles, except for the actual seat.

According to employee Cindy Swauger, Estelle’s has even repaired Santa’s belt and has had to, more than once, make his belt a bit larger just before Christmas.

Now that is a claim to fame, if I’ve ever heard one.

Area law enforcement knows that simple repairs to holsters or belts will be repaired for free, explained Jerry. There are also discounts for military and law enforcement customers.

Estelle’s is open seven days a week: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. The business also sets up its mobile shop at motorcycle shows and festivals across the area.

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