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Hand-embroidered leather purses like this one can be found in Zack White Leather Company in Ramseur. (Greta Lint / Randolph Hub)

Leather shop in Ramseur has customers around the world

RAMSEUR — A store in Ramseur draws customers from 20 foreign countries to purchase leather, belts, purses, holsters, hats, vests, wallets, craft and agricultural supplies and dog collars.

Oh, there is much more than that to see at Zack White Leather Company in Ramseur.

Tim Cox, owner of Zack White Leather Company, became fascinated in leather when he was at Elon College. 
He now runs one of six leather companies in the nation. (Greta Lint / Randolph Hub)

You can spend hours looking, touching and feeling a multitude of different kinds of leather. It’s a fascinating place where you can outfit the entire family in leather attire, place custom orders, buy supplies for the farm or buy items for your own store.

Walking in the front door, you would never know that a manufacturing company is set up in the back.
Zack White Leather Company is located at 809 Moffitt Street in Ramseur and is one of only six such stores and manufacturing plants in the country that specialize in all types of leather.

Rolls of rawhide, buffalo, suede and many other types of hides fill tall bins in the back. They hang from the walls and are rolled up in large boxes.

Old sewing machines and hydraulic press machines, called splitters and clickers, are still used like they were 50 years or more ago. Holster patterns hang from the wall. A large work table has hides rolled out for cutting. In a large corner, shelves are packed with little hammers, or stamps, used to emboss the leather, such as making flowers, names or beautiful abstract designs.

You need the right tools, and many of them, to work work leather. (Greta Lint / Randolph Hub)

The main product line for finished goods is Maxwell / Leigh Creations and is sold in several stores nationwide and on Etsy. 

Ramseur native Tim Cox owns Zack White Leather Company. His website outlines that Zack White “offers one of the largest selections of belts and private label leather goods to small stores and tack shops nationwide. It stocks a complete line of Osborne Tools and Fiebing’s Leather Dyes and Finishes. The company’s focus on leather craft is complemented by being distributors for The Leather Factory and Tandy Leather. Zach White represents many of the best tanneries in North America and stocks a complete line of leather for the craft and tack trades.”

It’s a small operation with only eight employees. Cox is joined by wife Lisa, son Max and mother Mary “Maggie” Cox.

Maggie wears a great big smile when people come in the door. The 89-year old is retired from First Horizon Bank and enjoys seeing her former customers. She works in the retail side of the company while Max and Tim are busy in the back, cutting, styling, hammering and working with the leather.

Leather belts are the top seller for Zack White Leather Company in Ramseur. Tim Cox, company owner, will fit walk-in customers with a belt at no extra charge.  (Greta Lint / Randolph Hub)

“Most walk-in customers are looking for things they can use in their own hobby business,” Maggie said. “They come here to buy supplies. We sell a lot of belts and Tim will customize them to fit.”

Along with the retail store, Zack White items can be found on Etsy.

Max, 31, is a 2008 graduate of Eastern Randolph High School and went to work in the family business. He enjoys making things and working with his hands.

“I like making stuff from scratch,” he said. “I like the tooling.”

He says that on a typical day, he fulfills Etsy orders, works on pocketbooks, guitar straps and much more. He father praised him for his detailed work.

Tim tells the story that when he was an Elon College student, he got into working with leather to impress a girl. He stayed busy selling his leather goods at street fairs and trade shows. He purchased his leather and tools from Zack White Leather Company in Raleigh. 

Max Cox, 31, ‘likes making stuff from scratch.’  (Greta Lint / Randolph Hub)

Back then, it was a large operation and owner Zack White had a sizeable customer base of shoe companies. As shoes became disposable and people no longer repaired them, the leather market started to shrink. To weather the storm, White changed his business model and added leather craft supplies, horse products and much more. He published a catalog and product shipments went to customers in 19 states. Tapping into the horse trade was a wise move for White.

Tim continued to purchase leather and supplies from White. They developed a strong relationship. When Zack White reached 70 years of age, he sold out to Tim in 1984. 

A Ramseur native, Tim relocated the business to his hometown. He built a new building to house the leather company in 2003. He kept the name Zack White Leather Company because so many people recognized it.
“The leather industry is one of the few industries that could stay in business and not close down because of COVID,” Max said. “While people were staying at home, many were making things. We are one of the businesses that crafters like to go to.”

The manufacturing area is filled with old equipment that is still used today. At left, old holster patterns hang from a tall shelf. (Greta Lint / Randolph Hub)

The website www.zackwhite.com is an educational portal for anyone who wants to learn about leather or who wants to make things. 

Videos show how to measure a belt and how to dye leather. The glossary is a helpful tool for crafters and for people wanting to place orders. They need to know what kind of leather they are getting, as Tim says he stocks hundreds of different types and colors.

On Saturdays, Tim is usually in the back embossing leather bags, key chains, dog collars … the list goes on. Max said they typically work at least 50 hours a week, often more. 

And, yes, Tim is hiring.

For information about Zack White jobs and products, call 336-824-4488 or email wecare@zackwhite.com.
Zack White is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m.-1 p.m.