Leather-clad locals looking for a place to repair the boots, belts and biker chaps that do not survive Halloween weekend will have to search outside of Isla Vista this year.
The Leather Guild currently located at 6529 Trigo Rd., will close its doors on October 29 after 32 years of business in I.V. Store owner and operator Jim McQueen said he chose to shut down the establishment because the building’s new landlords raised his rent from $500 to $2500 per month. The Leather Guild, which specializes in the manufacture and repair of leather products, will be moving to a new location at 4188 Carp Ave. in Carpinteria.
The increased rent would make it too hard for the Leather Guild to turn a profit without charging exorbitant prices, McQueen said – something he is unwilling to do.
“I don’t charge a lot of money compared to other people,” McQueen said. “[If] my rent doesn’t go up, my prices don’t.”
The Leather Guild may be replaced by a Peet’s Coffee and Tea store, McQueen said, as the owners of the Peet’s chain know the owners of the building where the Leather Guild is currently located.
McQueen said he will continue to offer services such as shoe, boot, backpack and jacket repairs until the store relocates. He said he will also continue manufacturing and selling his own belts, sandals, buckles, leather straps, and other leather products, for the time being.
McQueen said he never attended tailoring school and taught himself many of the skills necessary to run his store. He said he has spent the past three decades expanding and adapting the store’s services to meet the needs of his customers.
“One year someone said to me, ‘Can you put a zipper on my jeans?'” McQueen said. “So I went down to the thrift store and bought 10 pairs of jeans, and took each of the zippers off and replaced them.”
When the local dry cleaner went out of business McQueen said, a customer came in and asked McQueen to launder his dirty clothes. McQueen said he took the laundry to another dry cleaner and called the customer to come pick up the clean laundry back at the Leather Guild.
“I told him, ‘Well, bring it over here and I’ll see that it gets clean,'” McQueen said.
John Edwards, who owns John Edwards Salon, located next to the Leather Guild, said the block will be different without McQueen. Edwards said he will miss McQueen and his shop.
“[McQueen’s] business, I.V. Market and myself are probably some of the oldest businesses in Isla Vista,” Edwards said. “He’s a great guy – hate to see him go. We visit every day.”
Last weekend, the Leather Guild hosted a sidewalk sale to get rid of vacuums, machines and other leftover items collected during the store’s years in I.V.