North Lawrence leather, shoe repair shop to temporarily relocate after fire

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Post updated at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 3:

About five months after a destructive fire, a North Lawrence shoe repair shop will temporarily move into a building just outside of downtown in East Lawrence.

BKB Leather owners Bruce and Kris Barlow lost their shop in an electrical fire in August.

The shop, which had been established in a building on their family’s property for about 23 years prior to the fire, will move to 313 E. Eighth St. while reconstruction is underway, according to a Facebook post.

“This will bring new life to our shop and get back to work as well as offer a bit of breathing room for our build,” the post reads.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Kris and Bruce Barlow and their 3-year-old dog, Dusty, stand in front of BKB Leather on Aug. 9, 2023.

In the early morning hours of Aug. 7, the Barlows awoke to smoke. Flames had devoured their shop. Luckily, their home next door and surrounding homes went untouched, and no one was injured.

Sewing machines, chairs, tools, shoes, materials, crafts and more were destroyed in the fire. The Barlows lost precious collections of letters, sentimental items, and Bruce’s instruments, too.

Community members donated more than $21,000 to a GoFundMe page organized after the fire. Funds are contributing to cleanup and rebuilding costs as well as customers whose items were destroyed in the fire.

The Barlows plan to rent out the 313 E. Eighth St. space for a year. Afterward, they hope to move into their newly built shop.

BKB Leather will transition to the new location near Eighth and Connecticut streets in the early days of the new year, and the Barlows hope to open operations there by Feb. 1.

John Hachmeister, property owner of 313 E. Eighth St., has been a studio artist for almost 50 years. He began purchasing buildings in 2011 to fill what he saw as a need for professional studios local artisans could utilize.

The Barlows will be sharing the space with glass artist Brad Chun, who’s operated there for years, Hachmeister said. Three studios — A, B and C — occupy the front of the building. Chun and the Barlows plan to use Studio A as a shared sales and gallery space; meanwhile, BKB Leather will work out of Studio B, and Chun will continue in Studio C.

“I am very happy to have a space for my friend Bruce Barlow, BKB, to rebuild his leather business,” Hachmeister said via email. “Bruce is an amazing artisan and individual.”

Hachmeister said he will soon share details about a future opening celebration at the studios.

Stay updated with BKB Leather’s progress via its Facebook page, BKB Leather, and website,

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Bruce Barlow navigates through fire damage inside the BKB Leather shop on Aug. 9, 2023.
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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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