I returned home from work travel today to find the box with my new moccasins. BEST SHOES EVER!! My feet love them...and I'll be reaching out to order this year's Christmas style. Thank you for your outstanding craftsmanship & Happy Thanksgiving! ...
I LOVE my pair! I have been wearing them a lot. They fit great, are super-cute, and are so comfortable. I put them on my Instagram page and my old boss already wants to buy some. ...
I received my moccasins and I love them. The craftsmanship is superb and I love the colors. I am sure I will be ordering more. ...
My mocs came a few days ago. I love them. To have footwear that fits both feet, of very unequal size, is a luxury I never thought I would experience. Love the orange hide with the blue laces. I just don't ever want to take them off! ...
Hello any potential customers out there. I want to tell you that I am so impressed with the service this company has given to me. If 5 stars were the highest rating, they would be a 10. A difficult foot to fit, the pair were too small, they were HAPPY to make me another pair, no charge at all. Got back to me quickly in emails, The owner is PAUL KIRKMAN. A gem. complete gem. ...
Itasca Moccasin was formed in 1986 in the tiny community of Lake George Minnesota, located in the northwest quadrant of the state just to the east of Itasca State Park which is famous for being the headwaters of the Mississippi River. The original store was a rustic, shopworn souvenir stand that attracted tourists driving to and from the park.
The founder, Mardel Bents, learned the moccasin-making business after having been sold a set of used equipment from a local craftsman. She worked during winter months making moccasins in preparation for the upcoming summer tourist season. As summers progressed, stock on hand dwindled until new pairs were made over the next winter season.
Over the years, Bents and her sole employee (who is now our Factory Store manager) perfected their moccasin-making techniques and turned out beautifully made, premium quality handcrafted moccasins; they also carved out a successful niche business doing custom pattern making for customers with hard-to-fit feet.
Though notoriously thrifty when sourcing leathers, Bents had the foresight to go beyond the use of basic cowhide and also sought out premium game hides like buffalo, elk and moose, as well as super plush sheepskin, used for slippers and baby mocs.
In April 2012, Bents retired and sold the business to Paul Kirkman who, if nothing else, was smart enough to retain the company’s sole employee. Kirkman rebranded the company as Itasca Leathergoods to extend its identity beyond its moccasin-making roots and focused on creating a more fashion-forward vibe that was more closely aligned with its heritage and premium quality craftsmanship.
The overhaul was extensive and included a fresh logo, a more modern website and renovated Factory Store, a focus on sourcing the best leathers rather than the least expensive, and refining the moccasin styles and colors.
To broaden its geographic reach, the company opened two additional branded retail stores. The first, in 2012, was in the prestigious lakes area of Crosslake MN; the second, in 2013, was in a historic brick building in downtown Hayward WI. Both stores are gorgeous and quickly became shopping destinations for both local residents and visitors.
In 2012, the company began to expand its product line, with new categories introduced annually since then. Our leather placemats are famous for being exceptionally durable and stain-proof with easy care. Our strap belts are sturdy and intended to last for years (if not decades). Our handbags are well constructed and full of style. Our backpacks, duffels and messenger bags are exquisite heritage-quality pieces. Our wallets are exquisitely sewn by a leather craftsman who apprenticed in Italy. Our leather bracelets are totally unique (and make great gifts). Our Letter Pad Portfolios and Journals are highly functional and use incredible leathers. And who knows what we’ll come up with next year….
In 2014, the company actively sought out independent retailers throughout the country to carry our great moccasins. By exhibiting at wholesale trade shows and through a permanent representative in Dallas Market Center, we’ve grown to have approximately 90 retailers, located mostly through the country’s mid-section from north to south.
With additional stores and product lines as well as a growing wholesale business has come the need for additional skilled employees. Besides the professional retail staff providing excellent customer service in our stores, we now have a growing shop of leather craftsmen, sewers, cutters and contract workers – representing stable, full-time, non-seasonal jobs in rural Minnesota. We’re proud of our workforce – our crew is fiercely loyal, focused on doing the best job possible and always looking for ways to improve the products we make.
In planning future growth, the company has identified several main areas of focus:
We will continue to introduce new products. Items on the drawing board include home goods (e.g. decorative pillows and Christmas decor) as well as small leather goods that will make perfect gift items.
We will continue to grow the wholesale side of our business and broaden our reach east of the Mississippi River.
We will deepen our commitment to sourcing the best leathers possible – working directly with the tanneries to develop leathers that are best suited for the goods we make and that are unique to Itasca Leathergoods in terms of coloring, pull up and finish. We’re already pushing the tanneries to create things they’ve never done before … and that’s really exciting to us.
We are developing prototypes for a new line of natural crepe rubber-soled moccasins that will extend the wearing season in northern climates and increase durability without compromising the extreme comfort that we’re known for. This is HUGE!
We will work to engage our customers through social media, blogs and other outlets to expand brand recognition and reputation throughout the country.
If circumstances are right, we will consider expanding the number of retail stores we operate. The interest lies in well-traveled high end resort communities that appreciate American-made, high quality leather goods. Got suggestions? Let us know!
We sincerely thank you for your interest in Itasca Leathergoods and for the part you play in making us successful.