Village Tannery

Village Tannery
Village Tannery

Neighborhood: Greenwich Village
Type of Place: Handbags

When each dollar counts, quality becomes all the more critical. And that's part of why when my friend Lisa and I wander into the Village Tannery, which specializes in leather bags, we find a steady stream of customers. The shop has been in business for 36 years and gives a free-repair guarantee for the lifetime of every item sold. Amazing.

Cut by pattern a few blocks away from the shop, the bags can be custom designed to desired sizes, colors, and design details. Co-owner Semih Tokat (there are 4 partners total) shows me around, explaining that the leather used is domestic and that new leathers arrive every three weeks or so. He also shows me a letter of appreciation from customer William Jefferson Clinton, who owns a portfolio case from the shop (his senator wife, Hillary, owns some of their bags as well). NBA players, he says, are also frequent customers, in part because they can custom design bag straps to accommodate above-average height. And he shows me a bag in for repair. It's 18 years old and, after the minor repairs are completed, will again be going strong.

I'm a vegetarian who actually tends to avoid leather goods as well as meat, but the items here are of such solid craftsmanship that I'm quickly impressed. And in any case, I'd much prefer that people have one leather bag to see them through 25 years (or more) than a different poorly made, casually disposed leather bag every two years or so.

Prices start at $125—and for that price are some gorgeous saddle bags, currently available in brown, purple, and green. I also loved a pink saddle bag with orange fringe ($199), rectangular message bags in brown or black ($199), a cherry red "baguette"-shaped bag ($250), and a gorgeous burgundy satchel ($600). And then there are a few exquisite bags made from Turkish kilims (the owners are from Turkey); a beautiful rectangular model is $750.

Basics or colors, solids or prints, small or huge: The variety is strong. And if you don't see exactly what you want, that's where the custom-design option will come in. I'm impressed with the quality of the leather, the skill of the craft, and the beautiful final results; and hey, when was the last time you were offered, on anything, a lifetime guarantee?
  - Pamela Grossman

Village Tannery
173 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 673-5444

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