Made in America

CoachCruiser

Member
Jun 9, 2011
4,493
1,056
MA
I've been on vacation with my husband in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire...we've had beautiful weather, done a lot of hiking, checked out cool new things, and did some browsing and shopping in North Conway, about 45 minutes east from where we are. We leave this morning --- I could stay another 2 weeks!

We came across The Beggar's Pouch on Main Street in North Conway...as soon as you walk in, all you can smell is LEATHER!!!! Beautiful LEATHER. They carry a few brands from other companies, but they're known for making their own products. We met Mike, one of the owners and leatherworkers, and talked to him forever about how he makes wallets and handbags, which he's been making in that shop since 1973. He really seems to love what he does, and he patiently and enthusiastically answered all my feverish questions about the process of making handbags/etc.

My husband bought one of his handcrafted wallets (the one of Abbey Road in the picture below w/the other wallets; he's a huge Beatles fan!), and of course, I had to buy a lovely purse and matching double-coin purse in one of my favorite colors - purple!!! The leather is so soft and smooshy!

I'm attaching pics of Mike behind the counter in his work space, pics of leather in pieces waiting to be assembled by hand into beautiful purses, the finished products in the store, and what my husband and I purchased after looking a long time. :smile:
The prices are extremely reasonable -- my purse was $64, and the coinpurse $8. My husband's wallet was $58. Incredibly reasonable, I think!

I think it's so cool that there are still people and shops like this out there -- products completely made with pride in America. If you check out his facebook page, there are pics of customers/women who returned wearing a handbag that they purchased from him 20-something years ago -- not a bad record!

It felt special buying from someone who was working on bags right in his own shop, and from someone so eager after so many years to talk about the craftsmanship that goes into his pieces. I thought all of you lovely handbag fans would appreciate these pics. :smile: It really was a fantastic experience.
 

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Jul 21, 2006
12,966
1,744
Southwest Florida
Now THIS is my kind of place! I can't tell you how many bags contemporary designer bags I own now, and I know that China has had a hand in at least 95% of them. I am stopping this practice and going for Made in America. There is another leather shop that is similar to this in Savannah, Georgia, and their bags are so well made it would make your head spin. Thank you for introducing me to this wonderful shop. I will certainly check out the Facebook page. I would buy any one of those bags sight unseen.
 

CoachCruiser

Member
Jun 9, 2011
4,493
1,056
MA
Now THIS is my kind of place! I can't tell you how many bags contemporary designer bags I own now, and I know that China has had a hand in at least 95% of them. I am stopping this practice and going for Made in America. There is another leather shop that is similar to this in Savannah, Georgia, and their bags are so well made it would make your head spin. Thank you for introducing me to this wonderful shop. I will certainly check out the Facebook page. I would buy any one of those bags sight unseen.
No problem!! :biggrin: I thought someone would love it! I own lots of Coach bags and other designer bags myself...and I still think they're absolutely gorgeous. I love them. But it's dismaying to know that - as you mentioned - many are making them in China now w/underage or underpaid workers/etc.

No matter what the brand, I've always been interested in the craftsmanship behind the bag. I love youtube videos about how designers create their products, so this experience right here in New Hampshire was a real thrill for me. Getting to talk to someone so fun and so knowledgeable was really awesome. Everything he makes - right down to the pull tag on the zipper (of a cute little pouch!) - is made in his shop. It's really something...this is what it used to be like everywhere -- hard to believe, isn't it?!
 
Jul 21, 2006
12,966
1,744
Southwest Florida
Hey, CoachCruiser! I just checked out their site. I am totally in love. The amazing thing is, I purchased a Victoria Leather bag in Venice, Florida, about a year ago and I simply cannot believe the quality and craftsmanship that went into that bag, and the Beggar's Pouch actually carries these bags, too. I am going to order one of their bags tomorrow...probably the Chatham Purple. I love that all of their hardware is solid brass because hardware is a big thing with me. Their prices are under the radar. I am excited! Thanks!
 

dcooney4

O.G.
Apr 15, 2007
29,248
23,415
I love these kind of shops. I know of a couple myself that I have shopped in. Not only are you buying from a craftsman and helping a small business you are getting a very unique bag. The one is in Sugar Loaf,NY called Into Leather and the other is in New Hope ,PA called Fred Eisen Leather.
 

CoachCruiser

Member
Jun 9, 2011
4,493
1,056
MA
Hey, CoachCruiser! I just checked out their site. I am totally in love. The amazing thing is, I purchased a Victoria Leather bag in Venice, Florida, about a year ago and I simply cannot believe the quality and craftsmanship that went into that bag, and the Beggar's Pouch actually carries these bags, too. I am going to order one of their bags tomorrow...probably the Chatham Purple. I love that all of their hardware is solid brass because hardware is a big thing with me. Their prices are under the radar. I am excited! Thanks!
That's SO GREAT! When you speak with Mike (or Ben), could you tell him the woman w/the checkered hat who bought the purple purse (and hubby bought the Abbey Road wallet) told you about his shop? I just wrote him a letter on his facebook page telling him I was spreading the word about his work, and about how much I enjoyed the experience. :smile:

That's crazy that they carry the same bag that you bought in Venice, Florida! I'll have to check it out online.

I agree w/you about the hardware...and the prices are incredible. So glad you enjoyed his site!
 

CoachCruiser

Member
Jun 9, 2011
4,493
1,056
MA
I love these kind of shops. I know of a couple myself that I have shopped in. Not only are you buying from a craftsman and helping a small business you are getting a very unique bag. The one is in Sugar Loaf,NY called Into Leather and the other is in New Hope ,PA called Fred Eisen Leather.
Thank you for the names of those stores! I will seek them out online. :smile:

I agree, it's so special knowing you're buying a one-of-a-kind bag made by a passionate craftsman and helping out a local business!!
 

unfurling

O.G.
Oct 26, 2008
1,059
3
This is too funny - my husband and I were up there in April, and I bought a purple flap shoulder bag from there :smile: I'll have to take a picture... but it's seriously the softest leather I've ever felt in my life, and I think it's just so neat that it was made by hand literally 20 feet from where I purchased it! :smile:
 
Jul 21, 2006
12,966
1,744
Southwest Florida
When I get mine, I will post a picture. I am all about leather and hardware and not the label. Others should come forward to post about these great boutique-type privately owned and operated businesses, hopefully. And, I definitely will mention the fact that you referred me, CoachCruiser!
 

Mariapia

Member
Feb 21, 2012
10,107
6,275
France
BeggaŕsPouch is proving to us that the designers who pretend that making a bag in their home country would cost a fortune are liars.