WILLISTON, Vermont (WCAX) – If you’re one of those who loves the scent of leather, the Queen City Dry Goods storefront could be your paradise.
“We made a lot of different leathers, bison leather, cowhide in different colors,” said owner Matt Renna, showing off his designs.
Renna’s bustling business started as a shoe-making hobby after a trip to Europe in the 90s.
“I moved to Vermont and just started researching this project and it was really hard to find information on how to make shoes at that time. It was sort of the early days of the internet and it wasn’t easy to find information, ”Renna said with a laugh.
After reading and following local traders, he finally got it.
“It took me a long time to do anything… functional,” he joked.
Queen City Dry Goods has been around for a decade, originally on Church Street. Renna’s downtown trading business started as a custom shoemaker in the same building as Champlain Leather.
He has since moved his operation to Williston and, during the pandemic, expanded his selection of leather goods to include something a little more comfortable.
“House shoe is our name for a slipper, basically. A lot of people when you think of a slipper, it’s a ball, you know, a ball on your feet. House shoes are a bit more sleek and stylish, ”Renna explained.
Next to the storefront is a small shoe factory run by Matt and his team Brit and Mike.
“It all starts out digitally. We’re a bit like the old school and the new school, ”Renna explained.
Renna gave us a tour of the store, while Brit worked on cutting the hide to get the shapes needed to make the shoes.
“This machine projects the patterns onto the table. The machine comes out with a knife and cuts out all the parts, ”he explained.
Then the shapes are hand sewn and glued together to create a house shoe.
“It’s kind of an interesting time there,” Renna said of the tech.
Whether it’s a mason jar holder, a weekend bag, or one of their stylish slippers, everything is carefully crafted and made in Vermont.
“There aren’t a lot of shoes that are actually made in the US, so that’s kind of who we are. People know where their products were made, by adults, ”he said.
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