In love with leather

TRACY – Ron Boje has expanded his hobby of working with leather into a small business in Tracy.

Just south of the railroad tracks on Center Street, Boje has opened Ron’s Tack & Leather Shop in a double garage that he rents, offering everything from halter and tarp repairs, to saddle work and custom gun belts.

Boje adds his own designs to his work using a hot iron to burn the leather.

“I’m working on a buffalo one now,” Boje said.

“I had horses for many years, and that’s when I got started,” Boje said. “I fixed my own saddles.” Boje’s wife also shares his passion for working with leather and lends a hand in the shop.

Boje graduated from Tracy High School in the early 1970s, then went on to live in Jackson and even spend a few years in Colorado. Now he is back in his hometown of Tracy doing something that he loves.

He said it started out innocently enough as a hobby, “something to do in the evenings,” Boje said. “It was supposed to be just a hobby, but now it’s turned into a business.”

Boje said that he is in his shop from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the work week; and anyone is welcome to stop by and see his work.

“I do any kind of leather repair,” Boje said, but he also specializes in custom leatherwork.

“I make rifle cases, gun belts and holsters all from scratch,” Boje said. “I don’t touch them with any machine; I do them all by hand. People seem to like that better.”

Boje does use a sewing machine for heavier work on shoes and harnesses, but it’s as close to handmade as you can get. He uses a Landis sewing machine that is more than 90 years old. He said he bought a new machine a few months ago, but it kept breaking down, so he has gone back to his old, but reliable machine.