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Itasca Moccasin was started in 1986 by Mardel Bents, who learned the moccasin-making business after being sold a set of leather-working equipment by a salesman from St. Paul, MN. The company was located in the tiny Minnesota community of Lake George, MN, just a few miles to the east of Itasca State Park in North Central Minnesota where the headwaters of the Mississippi River is located. For about 25 years, the company store was a rustic, shopworn souvenir stand that attracted tourists driving to and from the park. Bents (and subsequently one employee), handcrafted moccasins all winter in preparation for the following year's summer tourist season. As each summer season passed by, supplies were depleted until they were replenished during the next winter's moccasin-making season.
Due to its central location between the Leech Lake, White Earth and Red Lake reservations, the company attracted a significant following of Native American customers, who used the moccasins as a part of their regalia for Powwow dances and for other cultural events.
Over the years, Bents perfected her moccasin-making techniques and turned out beautifully made premium-quality moccasins, including custom pattern-making for customers with hard-to-fit feet. Not only did she use basic cowhide, but she had the forethought to introduce the use of premium leathers such as buffalo, elk and moose; she also utilized the most incredibly plush sheepskin for slippers.
In early April 2012, Bents retired and sold the business to Paul Kirkman who changed the name to Itasca Leathergoods to extend the brand identity beyond its moccasin-making roots. Kirkman maintained the company's sole employee and over the next two months completely rebranded the company into a fashion-forward business that was more closely aligned with its premium-quality craftsmanship. The original factory store was gutted and renovated inside and out. The logo was modernized while still clearly acknowledging the company's heritage. Moccasin styles and colors were updated. Advertising campaigns were designed and executed. And most importantly of all, a second store, deemed to be the company's flagship store, was built out and opened in the prestigious resort community of Crosslake MN. Both the original factory store and the new flagship store (re)opened by Memorial Day 2012 and immediately garnered rave reviews from its new and former customers and received generous favorable press. A third store, in Hayward WI, followed in spring 2013, located in a historic turn-of-the-century brick building on Main Street in the heart of downtown.
In 2012, in an effort to diversify product lines, Itasca Leathergoods introduced its first non-moccasin offerings: simple placemats and coasters constructed of durable rugged cowhide, as well as intricately hand-laced placemats and coasters made from dramatic embossed leather. These were followed shortly thereafter by a leather sleeve for Apple's iPad. Of course, all are made of leather, utilizing many of the leather working and hand lacing skills learned over the years. In 2013, the company procured a strap-cutting machine and began to make sturdy belts with honest construction for men and women that are expected to last for decades. Two styles of handbags were introduced in late 2013, along with exquisite men's and ladies' wallets; the wallets are made by a leather craftsman with an incredible pedigree - he apprenticed with two major Italian design houses in his youth.
With all of this growth came the need for additional employees. With the country having just come off a significant years-long recession, we're proud to say that we've increased from our original sole employee and now employ more than ten people - stable manufacturing jobs, the backbone of rural communities.
In planning future growth, we've identified three main areas of focus:
- Our push for 2014 and 2015 is for rapid expansion of wholesale accounts in high-end independent boutiques in urban areas throughout the country; in an effort to spur this growth, we're exhibiting at both national and regional wholesale markets across the country, focusing on product lines such as gifts, accessories and footwear.
- To further diversify our in-store offerings, we will continue to introduce new products and product lines. The near future will bring more styles of handbags and goods for the home, including leather knickknacks, decorative pillows, and (perhaps surprisingly) even leather Christmas decor.
- Over the coming years, we hope to open additional stores in the Mountain states, the South and the Southwestern United States. It is our goal to make Itasca Leathergoods a nationally-known and highly sought-after brand.
We sincerely thank you for your interest in Itasca Leathergoods.
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Lake George Factory Store
37144 US 71 N.
P.O. Box 228
Lake George, MN 56458
Shop Manager: Sam
Hours: Monday - Friday 9:00-6:00 Central
Frequently Asked Questions
Itasca Leathergoods accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express, and we accept payment via PayPal. Credit card purchases are secure. For PayPal purchases, you will be taken to their site for payment.
Custom orders require full payment at time of order.
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Returns and Exchanges
Full price stock items available on our website that are in unworn/unused condition may be returned or exchanged for 90 days. Refunds are for item cost but do not include shipping costs. Clearance items are non-refundable.
Items ordered with custom leathers or custom color selections are not returnable. Such items are not a part of our normal stock and cannot be sold with our normal merchandise assortments in our stores.
We guarantee a perfect fit for orders placed with custom foot tracings. If your moccasins do not fit, please return them and we will alter or replace them at our discretion to correct the fit. You are responsible for shipping costs back to the store but we will cover shipping charges when the altered or replaced pair is sent back to you. Please allow approximately two weeks for alternations.
Defects or Damaged Goods
Although rare, we occasionally manufacture a product with a defect that escapes our quality control review. We will repair or replace moccasins or other leather goods that are defective. Items that signify a defect include (but aren't limited to) mismatched leathers, a dropped stitch, cut or abrasion to the leather, or visible glue. Items that don't signify a defect include natural marks or blemishes to the leather, stains and dirt, damage from animal chewing, and normal wear and tear.
In the event you experience premature wear-through on the sole of the moccasin, we may repair or replace it upon our discretion on a case by case basis. This offer for repair does not include normal wear and tear over the years.
Some repairs are relatively easy; others are more difficult. For information about repairs, please call the factory store to discuss whether or not a repair is possible or advisable. Cost for repairs is handled on a case by case basis. Please call 218-699-3978 or send a request on our Contact page.
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Most items are custom made just for you at time of order. All work is done at our facility in Lake George, MN. Please allow two weeks for your item(s) to be made.
Domestic Shipping Service
We use several carriers for shipping. In the Midwest we typically use Spee-Dee Delivery. For Deliveries outside the Midwest, we typically use US Mail. Alternate carriers include UPS or FedEx. The choice of shipping carrier is left to our discretion although we will try to honor special requests.
Domestic Shipping Costs
- Deliveries: Customers pay for shipping. Our standard shipping and handling rate for deliveries to destinations in the United States is $11.95.
- Returns: Customers pay for shipping back to the Factory Store. Our address is 37144 US 71 N, PO Box 228, Lake George MN 56458.
- If we repair or replace your moccasins, we'll pay the outgoing shipping costs for the pair that is returned to you.
We offer international shipping via US Mail. Package tracking is typically not available. Typical transit time takes up to ten days - but passing through customs may delay total transit time. Shipments going to other countries are often subject to duties and taxes that are billed by your country's customs department upon arrival. Any duties, taxes or customs charges are the customer's responsibility. We will not indicate on customs paperwork that your purchase is a "gift" to avoid duty charges. Some countries have high incidence rates of theft of incoming packages and we will not be liable for any losses incurred.
International Shipping Costs
When placing an international order, please be aware that we will contact you via phone or email to confirm final shipping costs. Shipping charges for international deliveries are billed on a separate invoice from your original purchase and we will need credit card information to make that secondary sale. For your privacy and security, we will never request your credit card via email but instead will take the card number over the phone.