Two years ago Vi and Ivan Hostetler made the decision to purchase the Amish Country Leather Shop in Berlin, a decision that began their adventure in retail. Vi says the church they attend encouraged parishioners to pray about their dreams and about how to pursue and achieve those dreams. After some time spent doing just that Vi says she “finally got up the nerve to come in and talk to” the owners of the leather shop. She is convinced it was not luck that led to ownership of a business that incorporates her appreciation of motorcycles with earning a living; as it happened the previous owners because of health concerns had been discussing putting up a “For Sale” sign so the Hostetlers’ inquiry seemed providential.
Vi was born and raised in Holmes County and Ivan right next door in Wayne County. She laughs when she describes the difference in perspective that came with owning a business supported by tourists as well as locals. Tourist season is “not an annoyance” but rather it is something to look forward to. She acknowledges freely that this county owes much of what it is to the financial contributions made by the many visitors to the area. When asked what she likes most about Holmes County Vi knows straight away what that is. “When somebody is in trouble, it’s like the whole community just rallies around and helps.”
Vi and Ivan’s sons Tyler, Creed, Damon, and Derek are helpful in running the store but with one in college, two in high school and one in middle school that help is limited. Ivan holds a full-time job with a local cabinet-maker which leaves the day-to-day operations at Amish Country Leather up to Vi. She says she loves taking care of the business describing herself as a “pencil pusher” with a head for keeping the records straight.
The quaint little house beside the church on Main Street is larger than it first appears and it holds an impressive variety of items from gloves, jackets, purses, saddlebags, and chaps, to bike-cleaning products, doo-rags and much more. The smell of leather welcomes customers as soon as they open the door and with several levels filled with merchandise there is plenty to choose from. The belts made on-site with leather from Weaver Leather in Fryburg are popular items; Vi manufactures the finished products with the help of her family and four employees.
A shared love of motorcycles makes Amish Country Leather a great fit for Vi and Ivan. They hope to continue expanding, possibly offering motorcycle parts and services eventually. Meanwhile they enjoy a full and busy life taking time during the summer months for frequent bike runs around the beautiful hills of Holmes County.
For more information visit Amish Country Leather’s website at www.acleather.com.