Along about 1971 or 1972 Bill found himself employed as a shoe repairman. He found himself doing orthopedic prescription build up work for the local podiatry school. It was gainful employment from the start. He recognized that he enjoyed working with his hands and that he might be able to make a living at this humble profession. The work was meaningful and helpful to others. It was a pretty good fit for a hippie, musician and roust about.

Leatherwork, belt and purse making was a sideline that also attracted his interest. His wife Lauri and artistically prone and betwixt the two of them they started selling their handmade leather goods on a part time basis in the building that they now own.

They opened the day after Thanksgiving with an inventory of 12 belts and buckles, 6 hand tooled purses, 4 hand drawn ink pictures by Lauri’s sister and 4 macrame’ hangings by Bills Grandmother. The rest is a story of day in and day out pursuit of customer satisfaction. The store survived because of the unflagging patronage of the citizens of this region and community. Few people knew that times were quite meager for the two of them. They’ve always lived below their means and yet pursued their craft with a “devil-may-care” attitude.   They sometimes feel that they are living the life of an 1870’s leather smith or saddle maker, being born a hundred years to late.

They recognized early on that there is a trade off by being self employed. You always work more than an eight hour day but the lifestyle allowed them to travel to gift shows throughout the nation and eventually market their own products nationally.

Their products can be found in State and National Parks, some of the most famous museums, galleries and saddle shops.

The Buffalo Billfold Company is located on “main street” (Tenth Street – City Center – Worthington, MN.) in a building that is on the National Registry of Historic Places. The lower level is 100% production, and the main floor in 50% retail outlet and 50% production. You should note that this is production & working leather gallery. Machinery will be running and people should refrain from entering work spaces.

Five hundred buffalo hides have just arrived and this writing will have to come to an end.

Bill Keitel

Buffalo Billfold Company