Bryan Wildt, owner of Wildt Leather in Benton, AR, grew up watching his parents repairing
leather shoes at the family business in Illinois. He joined the team as a teenager, before taking a break for a few years. But saddles brought him back to the leather business when he moved to Arkansas in the 1990s. “I fell in love with saddle making and I really wanted to learn how to build saddles,” Bryan said. “That was the one thing that captured me about leather work--saddle making.” Whether making saddles or tote bags, Bryan finds a lot of satisfaction in building work that lasts. “It wasn’t because I’m a horseman, because I’m not,” Bryan explained. “What always appealed to me--and still appeals to me--is the thought of making something quality and seeing it still in use in fifteen years. It’s not a five year saddle or a ten year saddle. It’s a life-time saddle. I feel passionate about building quality products that hold up.”
He loves hearing the stories from his clients, as well. “I love having a guy come in and say, ‘I
bought this belt from you ten years ago and it’s the best belt I ever bought,’” Bryan said. “That’s very satisfying to me.” To build quality, Bryan relies on English bridle leather and his equipment, including the German-made stitcher Adler. “I bought it brand-new when I went into the business 25 years ago,” Bryan shared. “It was expensive then, and it’s even more expensive now.”
The heavy sewing machine handles the weight of the leather material in a way that a home
sewing machine can’t. “The quality makes for such a nice stitch,” Bryan said. “You can use
heavy thread in it and multiple layers of leather. And when you’re using heavier thread, you’re obviously making a more durable product too.”
Wildt Leather still offers saddle repair at the leather shop in Benton, AR, along with high quality leather belts, holsters, knife sheaths, tote bags, and purses.
Come see the store!
Wildt Leather is about eight blocks from Harps Food, and five minutes off the Interstate using
exit 121. For those using a navigation system, the store can be found at 3434 A Salem Road, Benton, AR.
The hours are 10 am to 6 pm, Monday through Friday or on Saturdays by appointment. The
store is closed on Sunday.