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Sweet Water Leather Co. Sets Up Shop
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New shopkeepers, Judy and Gary Rose, have opened Sweet Water Leather Co. at the corner of Second and Coley, offering a unique western shop and classes in leather tooling and wood carving. Marg Jackson/The Times

Tired of always setting up and tearing down at trade shows and vendor fairs, Gary and Judy Rose of Escalon have decided to put down some roots.

The couple recently opened their Sweet Water Leather Co. at 1601 Second St., right next door to the horseless carriage garage, on the corner of Second and Coley.

“I’m tired of packing up, setting up, tearing it down,” Judy said with a laugh. “I’m getting my house back, too.”

With all the items they used to haul to shows throughout the Central Valley now in one central location, the storefront, their home is more like a house. The shop is where they will now do most of their business, though Judy said they will still travel to a few local shows, including the Cowboy Christmas in Oakdale.

Along with the leather items and handcrafts, there is jewelry, yard art, knick knacks, purses and more. A ‘workshop’ has been built in to the store by Gary, who made the entrance to the back room look like an old-time saloon.

The workshop will be the scene for upcoming classes, taught by Judy.

“We will be teaching leather tooling and woodcarving and we will have an introduction to those classes on Saturday, Oct. 12,” Judy explained.

The free class will run from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, with additional times and fees for classes announced later.

Both Judy and Gary enjoy working with their hands, from the leather tooling to wood carving to making custom items so it’s ‘just right’ for their customers.

Gary is a retired firefighter (34 years with the Livermore Fire Department) and now has time to help in the shop, while Judy has been involved in the business for years, finally deciding to take the plunge and open the store.

It became a thought in March, more of a workable idea in May and then finally became a reality in August.

“We’ve just kind of defined it as a unique western store,” explained Judy. “I do custom items, all the custom framing, make all the custom pillows and décor items.”

They also have saddle and harness hardware, and will work to bring in items customers need if they don’t already have it available. Antler art is typically a big seller, the duo added, and they also offer gift certificates. Other big sellers are the axe belts and leather fire radio holders for firefighters.

Hours for the shop are Tuesday, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. They are closed Sunday and Monday and can be reached at 838-2487.