GALLIPOLIS — River City Leather and B & E Shoe Services will be combining forces early August to make the most of their leather forming businesses in a new 2nd Avenue location.
“Bill Stapleton owns B & E Shoe Services and has since 1969,” River City Leather proprietor Aaron Buckley, 29, of Gallipolis, said. “Steve, his son, has worked there since he was 15. I started bugging him until he let me work there. He said no at first, but I just kept coming back and hanging out until he said yes. So I started shining shoes and cleaning shoes and picking stitches. Eventually, I started making a few of my own things. That year, I made my wife a leather tote bag for her birthday. We posted a picture on (social media) and we sold like two or three that week to friends. It worked out really well. It kinda took off on its own.”
Buckley stated that he worked for GKN Sinter Metals for a time while continuing to do leather work on the side with support from his wife, Erin Buckley. Aaron stated his first leather working shop was out of he and his wife’s home. They eventually ended up working out of a shed. Once they grew out of the shed, they worked in a shop on 2nd Avenue, close to the current location of Envy Ink Tattoos.
“That was our little shop. It was like 17 by 13 feet,” Aaron said. “It worked out great at first. And then in September 2013, I quit my job at GKN and went full-time with River City Leather. We started the actual business in 2012.”
Aaron stated the business bought the current location on 2nd Avenue in May across from Gallipolis City Park and next door to Courtside Bar and Grill. River City Leather purchased B & E Shoe Services and will still offer the same services as both businesses combine. Aaron stated that River City Leather already has a few promising manufacturing leather deals that help sustain the business and the added shoe and boot markets will help grow the organization. Aaron stated a chunk of their business comes from making things like bags and wallets but they may possibly diversify in the future. The business has also been known to take custom leather orders.
“I feel like we’re open-minded enough that we could do anything, it’s just about having the right people here,” Aaron said.
Aaron stated that after painting was done, he was fairly certain the business would open Aug. 10. In the front of the shop, the business will offer its retail items, and in the back will be the workshops.
“We’ll treat each part as B & E and River City Leather, but the actual name of our business will be River City Manufacturing Company,” Aaron said.
Aaron stated his organization has hopes of getting into wax canvas as a useable building material and looks forward to seeing what challenges the business can overcome. He estimates River City Manufacturing will have five employees. He looks forward to being able to support a life with the help of his wife for their current child and one soon on the way with a business they enjoy doing.
“It’s all a risk but you’ve got to make money somehow,” Aaron said.