July 15, 2011
Dillingham gets international notice
Whiskey holsters catch the eye of Jim Beam
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Bo Dillingham of Old Man Leather in Cortlandville loads two Jim Beam whiskey bottles into a custom leather belt he made for Jim Beam Global Wednesday.
Bo Dillingham is into crafting the unusual.
The owner of Old Man Leather on Route 13 in Cortlandville, he made a special liquor bottle holster — for Jim Beam whiskey — for Cortland bar owner George Seibel.
Now, the international company, Jim Beam Global, has taken interest and has just ordered 10 of the belts for its company.
The bottle holsters resemble a gunbelt for a pair of six guns, except the holsters are designed to hold Jim Beam bottles, Dillingham said.
“I just got a kick out of it. I don’t know if they are having a promotional party or convention,” Dillingham said. “This is something that kind of started in Cortland. I’m just getting a kick out of this. It’s so cool.”
“George Seibel of the Dark Horse came to me a couple of years ago with one of these holster things, maybe for beer bottles, made in Mexico (actually from New York City, according to Seibel),” said Dillingham, a retired mechanical engineer.
He said the piece was beat up and made of poor leather.
“‘Can you make us a nice one for Beer Goggles?’” Seibel said to him, of another Main Street bar he owns. But he wanted his leather holster to have square pockets, not round, and large enough to hold the whiskey bottle instead. Seibel said when he was in New York, he saw a belt that a girl wore that was specially designed to hold shot glasses.
“I thought it would be nice if it had bottles on it,” said Seibel. “When the Jim Beam promotional team came to Beer Goggles, they like them,” he said.
Dillingham, who specializes in belts, sandals made to order, pocketbooks, and anything leather, added a little flare by imprinting “Jim Beam” on the belt for Seibel, with the square holster on one side. On the other side was a leather holder for a couple of shot glasses.
“Then, a couple of weeks ago, out of the clear blue sky, I get contacted by Jim Beam Global. They wanted 10 of them,” Dillingham said.
“Jim Beam saw it and liked it and ordered them based on our design,” said Seibel, owner of the Dark Horse. He called it a collaboration between Dillingham, himself, and Jim Beam executives. For the latest holster belt ordered by the company, there are two Jim Beam bottle holders, one on each side of the belt.
Dillingham was excited. He sent them off in the mail Thursday. The holsters, like everything else in the store, are made by hand, well crafted and sturdy. Each belt took about six or eight hours to make. The leather has to be wet though to manipulate.
“You have to get it soaking wet, do something, and let it dry and work on it,” he said.
Most of his customers are horse people, bikers and civil servants like police officers, that need repairs done on their gear. He not only works on leather, but other fabrics and belts. “If it has grommets, snaps, rivets, heavy stitching, buckles, I can fix it,” he said. “This is my retirement gig. I only work a few days a week. I make every single thing in here,” he said.
Dillingham opened his shop in 2007.
“Maybe I should call myself Old Man International,” he joked. He filled another order for Global Dog Design.
His hand bags are one of a kind, nailed, not sewn or glued. “These nails are made for me by a company in Massachusetts,” he said. “I am the only guy on the planet that does this,” he said. He shapes his bags by hand, without molds.
“I get a kick out of doing something like that. One-of-a-kind stuff.”
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