When the door opens, the distinctive smell of new leather assaults the senses. It conjures an image of all things “cowboy.” Meece Saddlery has been open since July on Highway 59 North, featuring a variety of leather goods, services and items needed by horsemen.
Although Jerry Meece dabbled in leatherwork when he was young, the real push into the field came while he was in the Marine Corps. He was stationed in California as an instructor at the Mountain Warfare Training Center. In this position he was responsible for teaching how to load mules and other animals necessary for transportation and for moving supplies in regions where it was impossible to use motorized vehicles.
“One thing that I did was revise the Marine Corps Animal Packers Manual,” Meece said. “It had not been updated in more than 50 years, and it will be an asset not only now for the war in Afghanistan, but also for future wars. Studies show that out of 10 possible regions for another war, nine of them are mountainous terrain where we would have to use animals.”
As part of his work, he had to know how to make and repair leather items for the animal packing program. Consequently, he became skilled in the craft and put it to use after he left the military, first opening a shop in Nevada.
“I have a workshop at my house in Hudson, and many people come there to have me make or repair items,” Meece said. “I set up at a lot of Trade Days like Canton and Livingston, and I go to a lot of rodeos selling my goods.”
Those items range from small things like watch bands and wallets right on up to holsters and saddles. Besides creating new things, much of Meece’s work consists of repairing and cleaning items brought in by customers.
One thing that he did while in the Marines was make custom leather plaques for the honor graduates of the Training Center. He indicated that he wanted to do something special to recognize them because such a small percentage was able to successfully complete the training, much less with honors.
“But I wouldn’t say that I am an artist, even though I can be artistic,” Meece said. “I primarily want to make stuff that will last.”
In addition to leather goods, Meece Saddlery can supply just about any item related to horses, rodeos or trail rides. He stocks ropes, bull riding equipment, halters, and cowbells. He is the local distributor for several brands and says that he wants people to be able to get the equipment they need.
If he doesn’t have it in the store, he can usually get it. His web site displays traditional horse-related items but also has everything from cell phone cases to home decor to Bible covers.
“I’m really passionate about animals, especially horses,” Meece said. “I like anything that has to do with cowboys, so I want to serve people that have a similar interest.”
Store hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Additional information is available at www.meecesaddlery.com, and on Facebook under Meece Saddlery.