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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Purse Restoration

I have friends that change purses for every occasion.  I think that’s simply too much work.  I don’t think of a purse as an accessory; to me, it’s more like a necessary tool.  It holds things that I need to function in everyday life – phone, keys, money, small notebooks (one for work and one for volunteer work), things Gray needs for school, Jolly Ranchers.  Basically my purse organizes my life.  So, I like to find an all-purpose, good-quality purse that I can use for pretty much any occasion, and when I find the right one, I hang onto it until it no longer conveys the nice, crisp, tidy image I’ve worked so hard to earn.

Recently, Brian sent me a text with some photos of a few purses he’d had restored.  My first question was, “When did you start doing that?”  In my head I was kicking myself for not asking him about the Michael Kors bag I recently donated because it was showing lots of wear.

Restoring leather and suede bags is not an easy process; it requires years of experience, the proper equipment, plenty of space, and sometimes many, many hours.  That’s where our friends at Arrow Fabricare Services based out of Kansas City, Missouri come in.  I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Susie, a third generation garment care expert.  Her family’s business has a fascinating story!  Her grandfather was an immigrant from Poland with expert tailoring skills, and he started the business in 1914.  When her dad came back from serving in the Air Force in 1945, he expanded the business into fine dry cleaning and leather cleaning.  In fact, her dad, at age 91, still comes into work every day.  Her brother now runs the business, and they started caring for handbags 10 years ago.  And just take a look at these results!



I asked how they performed such miracles, and of course, that’s a trade secret.  What she did tell me was that they have 5 different ways they clean leather, they use 3 different solutions, there’s a lot of hand cleaning and wet cleaning, most everything goes to a dye booth (that’s where the magic happens), there’s pressing involved, and their facility is 26,000 square feet.  I was curious as to whether there have been times when they couldn’t restore something.  “Oh sure,” she replied.  “There are times when things can be fixed, and there are other times when we can’t.”  She went on to tell me about a 1970’s leather bag with lacing they received.  The leather was as hard as a rock, and after evaluation they determined that it couldn’t be softened.  They told the customer there was nothing they could do.  “He said to throw it away,” Susie shared. “We will always give an honest answer.  If it’s not worth fixing, we’ll tell the customer.”  But then there was this $49,000 alligator bag that 3 people spent 10 hours on that came back looking brand new.

High-quality handbags are not meant to be carried one season and then replaced.  Your bag likely has unique features and characteristics that drew you to it, and to find something new that fits all your needs is difficult.  Why not let us take a look at your suede or leather purse, handbag, or briefcase to see if it can be revived so that it can continue to serve you faithfully?  Just drop by one of our three locations and let us take a look at it.

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