Votruba Leather Goods Co. in Traverse City, Mich.
Michael Norton

Votruba Leather Goods Co.,  Traverse City, Mich.

Its East Front Street facade doesn’t look like much, but then again, looks can be deceiving. Inside VOTRUBA LEATHER GOODS CO., the oldest store in Traverse City, Mich., is a stunning collection of specialty leather goods with an overwhelming bouquet, reminding visitors that luxury often is found where it’s least expected. Turning 140 years old this year, the store is a staple in this year-round Northern Michigan resort destination. Shoppers will find all kinds of leather curated from the finest offerings around the world: buttery briefcases from Mosaic Travel Gear and Buxton Co.; delectable Dopp kits from Dorado and Osgoode Marley; and plush gloves, wallets and notebooks aplenty. The storied tradition began in 1874 when Frank Votruba, a local businessman and philanthropist (he and his brothers-in-law built one of the city’s oldest cultural institutions, the Traverse City opera house, in 1891), opened his downtown leather outpost. The store passed on to Votruba’s son, Bill, after World War I. Local merchant Earl Glaesmer bought the shop in 1965, later handing it down to its current owner, Earl’s son, Kerry. With two father-son partnerships spanning 14 decades, it’s a family affair that’s as strong and as durable as the leather it sells. “We’ve got a lot of experience in the luggage industry,” says Kerry Glaesmer, who notes that all luggage is carefully inspected for the construction of its wheels, handles and zippers before joining the family. “Our philosophy is to sell a better piece of luggage.” Now that’s a family tradition we can get behind. Visiting before Valentine’s Day? The store offers monogramming at no charge on items purchased at the store. 112 E. Front St., (231) 947-5615