The Leather Guy started like most leather companies do; as a hobby.
Keith and Tracy Brubaker frequently attended weekend Rendezvous, with their two children in tow, in order to escape the normal day to day and spend time as a family. They began selling trinkets and a variety of odds and ends in the hopes of recouping their camp fee each weekend.
In 1997, they stumbled upon an opportunity to sell something new.
A local boot factory was moving their operations overseas and was clearing out their supplies stateside, including boxes upon boxes of leather hides. Keith thought folks at the Rendezvous would have some use for leather, and much to Tracy’s chagrin, he bought several hides. Keith’s intuition was right. They sold every hide that following weekend.
Keith quickly went back and bought a few more hides from the bootmaker and just as quickly sold those too. At this point, Tracy had been won over, and they realized they were on to something. Keith reinvested their leather profits to buy more hides, eventually going back for everything the factory had left.
As the Brubakers sold more and more leather at the weekend gatherings, Keith became known as “the leather guy” around the Rendezvous and thus it became their camp name.
From there, Keith learned the ropes of contacting tanneries and working out purchasing while Tracy wrestled with the bookkeeping side of their new small business, all while still holding full time jobs and raising their kids.
After a few years of selling only at weekend events, Tracy got word that her full-time job was coming to an end. Being a little soured by corporate life and wanting to be more available to the kids, Tracy thought selling leather on eBay might be a good way to satisfy both things.
Under The Leather Guy banner, they set up shop in their garage and launched the leather business properly on eBay. Tracy could run the business from home as her new full time job, and she and Keith would continue to sell at events on the weekend.
The business steadily grew and grew, allowing them to hire their first employee. They were now too big to fit in their garage. Luckily, they had the perfect location just down the street from their home with an empty western & saddle shop looking for a new tenant.
They moved into their first physical store and started their first website, which allowed them to grow even faster.
A short ten months after moving into their first shop, southeastern Minnesota was hit with a 100 year flood and unfortunately, The Leather Guy’s new shop was right in the path. Keith and Tracy had to toss out much of their stock due to damage. They had to set up shop in a large circus tent for 5 weeks while the building was repaired. They put in the time, and got things back to normal as quickly as they could.
But that setback didn’t hamper them for long. Hard work and word of mouth paid off as they once again grew too large for the space they were in and had to move into yet another new building. With this new space came a larger team (including Keith, who was finally able to join on full time) and a new logo. And that lands them where they are today.
Growing from two folks selling closeout leather in a tent to a warehouse shipping high quality products around the globe, The Leather Guy has been a labor of love. Keith and Tracy set out on their path wanting to create a business that is both caring and supportive, involved in their communities, and developing a community of leather workers to partner with them in their success
From our superior customer service and friendly staff, to our informative and detail driven website, to our desire to give back in any way we can, The Leather Guy prides ourselves on being a company that is here to serve.
Here at The Leather Guy our mission is to encourage, inspire, and help small businesses grow by providing services that are affordable, reliable, and friendly. We strive to stand out as a company that takes care of the details so our customers can focus on the bigger things. We’re here to care for and lift up those around us; including not only our families and work family, but also our communities.