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MiVT: Queen City Dry Goods

Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 1:28 PM EDT
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WILLISTON, Vt. (WCAX) - If you’re one of those people who loves the smell of leather, the Queen City Dry Goods storefront could be your paradise.

“We’ve been doing a lot of different leathers, some bison leather, some cow leather in different colors,” said owner Matt Renna, showing off his designs.

Renna’s bustling business began as a shoemaking hobby following a trip to Europe in the ‘90s.

“I moved to Vermont and I just started researching it as a project and it was really difficult to find information on how to make shoes at that point. It was sort of early internet days and it was not easy to find info,” laughed Renna.

After reading and shadowing local tradesmen, he eventually got the hang of it.

“Took me a long time before I actually made anything... functional,” he joked.

Queen City Dry Goods has been around for 10 years or so, originally on Church Street. Renna’s business venture downtown began as a custom shoemaker in the same building as Champlain Leather.

He’s since moved his operation to Williston, and during the pandemic, expanded their selection of leather goods to include something a little cozier.

“House shoe is our name for a slipper, basically. A lot of people when you think of a slipper, it’s a puffy, you know, puffball on your feet. House shoes are a little more sleek and stylish,” Renna explained.

Adjacent to the storefront sits a tiny shoe factory run by Matt, and his team Brit and Mike.

“Everything sort of starts digitally. We’re sort of like, old school and new school,” Renna explained.

Renna showed us around the shop, as team member Brit was working on cutting the hide into shapes needed to make shoes.

“This machine projects the patterns onto the table. The machine comes out with a knife and cuts all the parts out,” he explained.

Then, the shapes are hand-sewn and glued together to create a house shoe.

“It’s kind of an interesting juncture there,” Renna said of the technology.

Whether it’s a mason jar holder, weekender bag or one of their sleek slippers, it’s all made with care, and made in Vermont.

“There’s not a lot of footwear that’s actually made in the states at all and so that’s sort of our whole identity. People know where their products were made, by grown-ups,” he said.

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