Nestled along a small-town main street, is shoe repair shop, Weaver's Leather Store, owned by LeRoy Weaver, of Buffalo Center, Iowa.
Weaver's, a family-owned business, dates back to around 1925. According to the family, it was first established in a wooden building that sat across the street from its present location at 112 N Main St., where it moved in 1930.
Weaver's is operated by LeRoy's son, Tim; grandson Tanner; and daughter-in-law, Julie.
LeRoy, who will turn 90 in March, said he enjoys meeting people, and being around the machines, and although he is retired, he still looks forward to coming to the shop every day.
Upon entering the shop, customers are greeted with a combination of glue, leather, and shoe-polish scents. The main entrance of the shop transports customers back in time with the simplicity of a store front that seems to be untouched by technology.
“Weaver's Leather Store is something you’re not going to find everywhere,” said Tim Weaver. “It’s a unique store, and when you walk in your first impression when you walk in is the smell of leather and glue; 70-80 percent say 'oh it smells so good in here,' and we are like, 'what are you talking about?' because for us, we don’t even notice it.”
To the right of the entrance is LeRoy’s work station with a sewing machine. The counter is packed with shoes to be repaired, shoe shines, and materials, it gives one the impression that a shoe storm hit.
A map is hung in the store, pinpointing customers' origins; some from South America, Europe, United States, Africa, all gained simply by having been visiting Buffalo Center for some reason or other, and wandering into Weaver's.
“It reaches out a long, long ways,” said LeRoy about his services. “About an 80-mile radius. We have customers from Mason City, Fort Dodge, Minnesota and we have served customers all over the world.”
The Weavers credit their business popularity to great customer service, quality workmanship, and a wide variety of brands and sizes available to their customers.
“Tim and Julie are awesome, as was LeRoy,” said Shelly Meyer West, who grew up in Buffalo Center. “We brought all our shoes there. Superb family and quality products.”
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“We pick up six to eight costumers weekly that have never been in our store before,” said Tim Weaver.
“It’s what I’ve grown up around and what l love doing,” said Tanner of his position at Weaver's. “It’s all I’ve known.”
The Weavers have had some memorable moments along the way. The store was once used in a scene for Iowa Public Television series “The After Life.”
Another time, Joe Senser, former Vikings announcer and tight end, visited the store. According to Julie Weaver, Senser was in town visiting a friend who told him he had to check out Weaver's.
“He purchased shoes for his wife and daughter,” said Tim. “And on another visit, he brought over a little boy and his mother who had come from Chile. The University of Minnesota had brought them to the United States because the boy need surgery to have ears constructed so he could hear. We supplied them with shoes at no charge.”
LeRoy’s most humorous memory as a shoe repair owner was when a local lady came in and asked to have her leather skirt shortened while she was still in it.
“I thought it was short enough already when she came in,” said LeRoy, with a chuckle. Another humorous moment was when someone wanted work done on a bra.
“My father started Weaver's as a harness repair shop,” said LeRoy, who learned the trade from his father. “I picked it up at a pretty young age and knew it was what I wanted to do as I was growing up.”
After all these years, LeRoy still comes in everyday to the shop and helps out with patch work. ”I work on the small stuff,” said LeRoy. “I don’t have the strength I used to have and it requires a lot of arm strength.”
Weaver's Leather Store offers over 45 brands, such as New Balance, Chippewa, Justin, Durango, Sketchers, and Red Wing, with a shoe inventory of 13,000 and sizes ranging from 0 to 17. They also offer Carhartt clothing and western wear. One feature that many customers enjoy about Weavers is that they do offer clothing sizes for all including big and tall sizes.
Weaver's Leather Store is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday though Friday, and from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
Jesusa Christians is the Community Editor of the Forest City/Britt Summit-Tribune.