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Horsin' Around

Family owned equestrian store
caters to all things leather

Collier & Sons Leather
merged the couple’s talents

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (October 2010) – Oldham County has long been known for its rolling hills and beautiful horses, centrally located between Louisville and Lexington. Once Bill Collier discovered this, he decided it was the perfect place to open an equestrian business.

Bill Collier

Photo by Helen McKinney

Bill Collier crafts a pair of leather
chaps inside his store in La Grange, Ky.
Below are some of his creations.

Collier & Sons creations

In March 2010, Collier and his wife, Lisa, opened Collier & Sons Leather at 106 N. Sixth St. in La Grange in the property that used to house J.R.’s BBQ. Collier, 51, retired from the U.S. Army and went into the leather business on the suggestion of his wife. Lisa Collier, originally from Oldham County, has been a trainer for show horses, ran her own business for a while, taught others about horses and competed in the Kentucky State Fair.
Collier first fashioned a leather lead chain for his wife then tried his hand at a gun belt, which he took to the Tandy Leather Factory on Bardstown Road for feedback on his work. With further encouragement, he entered his work in five categories in the Kentucky State Fair, winning five ribbons and Best of Show.
“I talk with a lot of leather crafters,” said Collier, who is originally from Lexington, Ky. He has had no formal training in leatherworking but has corresponded through the Internet with many crafters to perfect his own technique and create his own style.
“I like leather because you can bend, twist, mold, and stain it, making it look the way you want it to look,” said Collier. He handcrafts gun holsters, belts, lead chains and saddlebags with a traditional Old West look. Collier & Sons Leather also sells equine supplies for any discipline of horses.
Collier actually began the business by crafting western gun leather items but switched gears when he realized there was not a large market for these types of items in and around Oldham County. In the past he has attended local Cowboy Churches, setting up a booth to showcase his hand-crafted leather items.
Collier will repair saddlebags if possible, or send them to Master Saddler, Fran Smith of Crestwood.
The building has a “tack shop feel when you walk in it,” he said. The Colliers have developed their own line of horse care products, including eco-friendly fly spray, poultices and liniments. Upon request, he can order show clothes from a supplier in Ohio and boots and shoes. Bits, leather reins and belts adorn the walls for customers to browse through.
Future plans include carrying more farrier supplies. He can make farrier aprons that he said often “take a beating” because they are used so much.
Collier & Sons Leather is comparable to a second full-time job for Collier. For the past eight years he has been a Corrections Captain at the Kentucky State Reformatory’s Roterer Complex in Buckner. He is attending ITT Technical Institute to obtain a degree in Criminal Justice.
The Colliers own property on Hwy. 42 near Bedford, Ky., where they care for rescue horses. Many of their horses have come from Pennsylvania. “We take something no one wants and give it a second chance,” he said.
Collier also has two saddlebreds, a 28-year-old that used to pull carts for the Amish and a 3-year-old. He hopes to show the younger one someday.
As to why Collier opened a shop in La Grange, he said he “likes the small town atmosphere and historical aspect of the town.”
Collier hopes to stock more equine products in the future. For now, he labeled the business a “mom and pop operation” with potential to expand based on customer needs.

• Collier & Sons Leather’s website is currently under construction but will soon be up at www.CollierLeather.com. For more information, call Bill Collier at (502) 265-1256.

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