Leather aficionado Bill Adler’s esteemed company, Will Leather Goods, has long called the city of Eugene, Oregon its home. Since 1992, Spirit Leather Works — Will Leather’s parent company — operated in Eugene solely as the company’s headquarters, serving as a design, production, and shipping facility for the business. Throughout the years, the company’s logo has long pointed to the city as its source of origin, though Adler had yet to open a formal storefront in the area. After a chance encounter with one of America’s oldest forms of transportation, Bill now offers people the ability to get a first-hand look at his dazzling collection right in the city where it’s made.
For years, opening a shop in Eugene had always been in Bill’s plans, though it wasn’t until he stumbled upon a vintage freight car that his dream transformed into reality. After coming across an old livestock boxcar near his hometown this past January, the team at Will Leather Goods needed just five short months to spruce up the rig before officially launching the company’s next venture. On May 15th, Adler’s aspiration came to life as the company flung open the doors to its affectionately named “boxcar boutique” in Eugene’s posh Fifth Street Market.
From the outside, Will Leather Goods’ new storefront appears as roomy as — for lack of a better comparison — a boxcar, something accentuated by the fact it only took up seven of the market’s available parking spaces. Though after stepping foot inside the just over 500 square foot retail space, the freight car is far from cramped, offering an incredibly spacious, well-lit area perfect for perusing the company’s fine leather goods. Moreover, the team flanked the store’s entrance with several big windows which give the entire car a warm natural lighting, and allow the products to stand out even more.
The crew responsible for the finished exterior — which is a bonafide work of art in itself — adorned the boxcar with a vibrant coat of red paint, several Will Leather Goods logos, and decked the car’s side doors out with a gorgeous fir trim finish. During production, students from nearby University of Oregon’s acclaimed architecture school helped design and implement the company’s vision for the unique store. This exclusive partnership allowed the students to see their work come alive in the real world, and gave the Will Leather Goods team a chance to utilize some of the brightest young adults in the architecture community; this was clearly a big win for everyone involved.
Aside from the interior’s kiln-dried fir siding, much of what the customer sees is the original boxcar in all its vintage glory. From the original freight car’s sturdy flooring — of which the team hardly touched during its restoration — to the authentic tin ceiling panel, old and new are in perfect harmony throughout the entire store. Even the store’s support beams, which run from end to end, were salvaged from a burned down cabin on Oregon’s gorgeous Mt. Hood. Repurposed and refinished, the beams give this boxcar boutique a particularly cozy feel, emphasizing the company’s proclivity for making customers feel at home. Adler even included a classic model train which constantly navigates its way around the store’s ceiling, further adding to the shop’s “life always moves” motif.
A complete sum of its parts — the distinct smell of leather, the captivating display of Bill’s personally sourced merchandise, and a palatable cup of cold brew coffee provided by the employees — Will Leather Goods’ boxcar boutique is a righteous achievement of both quality and style. Though like each product found in Adler’s stunning collection, it’s a quality his customers have come to expect.