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roberth

Feb 3, 2015, 8:36 PM

Post #1 of 10 (11167 views)

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Where to shop for leather goods in Leon, GTO?

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Hi all. We're headed for a day trip to Guanajuato soon, and are wanting to stop by Leon first to shop for some leather goods. Any recommendations on where in the city to head to to find some shops where we can price compare, do some shopping, etc? TIA!



chinagringo


Feb 4, 2015, 7:20 AM

Post #2 of 10 (11149 views)

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Re: [roberth] Where to shop for leather goods in Leon, GTO?

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You will be looking for the Zona Piel which is an extensive area of virtually all things leather. If you plug "Zona Piel, Leon, Mexico" into Google Maps or use the following link:
https://www.google.com/...824a595f33bbc1?hl=en
you will see that the main intersection is the junction of Lopez Mateos and Hilario Medina. On one corner sits the Plaza del Zapato and on another corner a Holiday Inn.

Comfortable shoes and a willingness to investigate blocks and blocks of stalls & stores selling leather products are both essential. A couple of warnings: 1) counterfeit product is everywhere & 2) watch for horse hides being substituted for cow.
Otherwise, it is great fun and some super buys can be had by the discerning buyer.

Some photos of Leon with an emphasis on the Zona Piel:
https://plus.google.com/.../5548735266573081761
We have enjoyed quite good lunches at El Brasserio restaurant (pictured in the album). It is located adjacent to the Plaza del Zapato
Regards,
Neil
Albuquerque, NM



roberth

Feb 4, 2015, 8:28 AM

Post #3 of 10 (11141 views)

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Re: [chinagringo] Where to shop for leather goods in Leon, GTO?

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Thanks Neil! Just perfect information, exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for posting!


skier14

Feb 4, 2015, 4:01 PM

Post #4 of 10 (11125 views)

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Re: [chinagringo] Where to shop for leather goods in Leon, GTO?

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More info please. I can easily tell cow hide from horse hide while it is still on the hoof. After tanning??????


chinagringo


Feb 4, 2015, 8:12 PM

Post #5 of 10 (11108 views)

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Re: [skier14] Where to shop for leather goods in Leon, GTO?

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I wish that I could claim to know how to tell the differnece but like you, I can tell "on the hoof". We went to Leon with two specific products in mind: ostrich boots and possibly sheepskin "Marlboro style coats". While we found some decent quality sheepskin coats, styling was a bit lacking and sizing a real issue. As for ostrich boots, I was aware that many so-called ostrich boots are manufactured from stamped/printed leathers made to look like ostrich. With that in mind, we checked out a number of boot shops that raised our suspicions. Finally stumbled on a shop owned by the manufacturer of Liberty Boots and manned by the owner that particular Sunday. He spoke just enough English to take the time to give me an education on ostrich leather during which I learned that there was a difference between the belly and the back leather of an ostrich. Sure I could have saved approx. $800MXN by purchasing an identical styled pair of boots manufacturered from ostrich belly but they wouldn't have been as durable. Those boots are the very first photo in the album. The two-color suede/leather driving shoes were an add-on from this same store and proved to be quite comfortable.

As for the horse issue, it really didn't come up until we got back to Tlaquepaque and were talking to the owner of a particular leather shop where we have been long time customers. All of their jackets, purses, briefcases, suitcases, etc have always been custom made for them in Leon. He was the one who made us aware of the horse issue and I am going to guess that the substitution of horse is showing up in jackets and the other products that they compete in? They have always turned out high quality products as evidenced by the huge collection of purses in a certain closet in our household! They are probably being beat up by price points by people who don't realize they are comparing horse to quality cowhides?

As for the sheepskin concept, I have pretty much decided to "bite the bullet" and get a custom sheepskin coat made here in the US. I view it as an investment and it will be the last one that I will buy in my lifetime.
Regards,
Neil
Albuquerque, NM



roberth

Feb 9, 2015, 11:27 PM

Post #6 of 10 (11062 views)

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Re: [roberth] Where to shop for leather goods in Leon, GTO?

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I have to say, we were pretty disappointed by the leather district in Leon. If you've felt that the one thing missing from your life was a closet full of cowboy boots, Leon is your place. If you've been dying to add some Puna, Nibe, or Koach products to your collection, dito. I guess I was most disappointed by the fact that there was basically zero variation in products between stores. >100 stores, but for the most part you could visit 5 and have seen everything the district has to offer. I was hoping to find a unique leather bag for my new Surface Pro 2, as well as a cool leather camera bag. Absolutely nada. Nariz. We actually went back to SMA with nilch to show for the trip. It helped that my girlfriend has a complete aversion for anything not sold at an outlet mall or by a name brand, but the fact that there wasn't anything approaching a cool leather bag for me was really disappointing.


chinagringo


Feb 10, 2015, 7:28 AM

Post #7 of 10 (11047 views)

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Re: [roberth] Where to shop for leather goods in Leon, GTO?

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Now that I know what you were looking for, I cannot say I am overly surprised by your comments. Since our first trip to Leon in 2009, we have observed a number of transformations in the mix of products being offfered and the same could be said for our favorite leather shop in Tlaquepaque. While retail tends to be driven by consumer demands most everywhere, I think markets in Mexico take it to an extreme with far too many retailers jumping on exactly the same bandwagon. And this isn't only in leather but also furniture, art, crafts, jewelry, etc. We enjoy the pursuit of market leaders but they may be well hidden and hard to find.
Regards,
Neil
Albuquerque, NM



roberth

Feb 10, 2015, 9:32 AM

Post #8 of 10 (11029 views)

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Re: [chinagringo] Where to shop for leather goods in Leon, GTO?

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Yes, I did have quite specific needs I was hoping to fill, so looking back I'm not too surprised that I had an underwhelming experience. Your comment about retailers being driven by consumer demands gets to the problem, but that wasn't really my impression. It's interesting to think about though. My impression is that it's almost like each city's "main" market has a single supplier of goods, where each individual stall gets their products. I've had a similar experience in the market on the highway south of Monterrey, and the market strung along one of the hills in centro SMA, and now the leather market in Leon. Stalls 1-5 might be devoted to jackets, stalls 6-10 to bags, and stalls 11-15 to shoes, but you'll find the same jackets, bags, and shoes in each of those stalls, with just the tiniest, if any, variation. My impression is that it's not so much about retailers responding to consumer demands, as it is a result of a complete lack of competition amongst suppliers.

From the googling me and my girlfriend have done, things seem to be different in DF, as one would expect, with such a large and relatively wealth market. There seems to be a much greater variety of goods in the markets there. It has just been a surprise that cities the size of Monterrey, Leon, and SMA can't support a greater number of suppliers in their most popular markets.


chinagringo


Feb 10, 2015, 11:53 AM

Post #9 of 10 (11021 views)

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Re: [roberth] Where to shop for leather goods in Leon, GTO?

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Having spent virtually all my working life in both retail and wholesale in the US - a number of observations:
1) Retailers tend to be like sheep who are so afraid of not having "the hot product" that they tend to chase the very same products as their competitors.
2) If you want to see a retailer go ballistic, wait for a hot product manufacturer to tell them they cannot have such! Some retailers go so far as to enter the gray market and bootleg product into their stores.
3) While there are innovative retailers who pop up every so often, they are few and far between and their failure rate can be high if they are not able to draw the numbers of customers it takes to survive. The good ones create a "buzz" and if that takes off, they can be a huge success.
4) Believe it or not, manufacturers tend to fall into many of the same traps as retailers. Many try to build a better mousetrap by taking a competitor's product and tweaking it slightly rather than starting with a blank sheet of paper and building a better product from the ground up.

Since we have visited the mercado you mention in San Miguel de Allende, I understand what you are saying about it. We have also been to large and small mercados in Guadalajara, Tlaquepaque, Tonala, Guanajuato, Dolores Hidalgo, Puebla, Oaxaca, Tecali de Herrera, Morelia, Patzcuaro and many smaller regional mercados scattered around the towns and villages of Central and some of Southern Mexico and your general comments fit many of them too. Part of the reason for that is that arts, crafts and certain types of manufacture are all so regional in nature. This has often been dictated by availability of raw materials and the availability of skilled people.

Lets take a look at a product that your region is known for - talavera pottery. I use a small "t" because the talavera from the Dolores Hidalgo area isn't recognized by the Govt of Mexico as the true Talavera. But with approximately 1000 kilns in the area, they turn out huge quantities of product. On the other hand, the officially designated Talavera produced in Puebla is produced by a very limited number of studios approved by the Govt of Mexico. When one takes a look at the talavera made in Dolores Hidalgo, a high percentage of the designs are simply the same with varying degrees of quality. Every so often a new studio will pop up with new and innovative designs but they can count on being copied if the market starts clamoring for same since there are plenty of sharks out there willing to eat the young.
Regards,
Neil
Albuquerque, NM



roberth

Feb 12, 2015, 10:44 PM

Post #10 of 10 (10961 views)

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Re: [chinagringo] Where to shop for leather goods in Leon, GTO?

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Thanks for sharing that perspective. It's not that I didn't expect those factors to be in effect down here. What's surprised me, just from the markets in the few cities I've visited so far, is the marked lack of the individual craftsman, who sells the wares she herself, or her studio, makes. I guess I had assumed that, with the lower cost of living here, it would be easier for the individual craftsman-type to support herself, so you would see more of these types of businesses for decorative and leather goods. I will say, I've seen plenty of it in the arts and organic food products sectors. Maybe it's just a great deal more difficult in those other industries.
 
 
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