Retiree enjoys saddle repair

Friday, July 23, 2004
Voy Bailey displays a saddle that he restored. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Voy Bailey of Leachville went from repairing vehicles to repairing and restoring saddles. Bailey has had a business at the same location on Main Street in Leachville since 1966.

He owned and operated Bailey's Service Station and Garage for many years. He said he knew that he was going to have to get out of the auto mechanic business but was not ready to completely retire. He turned his garage into a tack shop and saddle repair about 10 years ago.

Bailey has always liked horses and was raised up with horses. His job as a kid was keeping their two saddles oiled. It seemed only natural when he went into the tact business. He has two horses that he keeps at his brother's place in Bald Knob.

"The right saddle is important. It is like buying new shoes, they need to fit. Many people would rather have their favorite saddles repaired and restored than break in a new one," Bailey said. "If the leather on a saddle is not been let go too long, I can usually make a very good saddle out of it. If someone has a good quality saddle, it can be better to restore than to replace. If the saddle is low quality they could be better off buying a new one."

Bailey said he jokingly tells people he has the largest saddle shop and selection in the town.

Seriously, Bailey does try to keep a good supply of new saddles, tact and only uses top grade material when restoring the saddles.

He is open Monday through Friday.

The saddle business was his way of dealing with retirement.

"I knew I had to quit working on cars, but I did not want to quit work. The shop gives me a good "loafing" place," Bailey said. "It would be hard to make a living at the saddle business but it helps pay the bills.

The time it takes to restore a saddle depends on what he has to do but most of the time he can get the work done within a week. He resets the leather and starts oiling it to bring it back.

Bailey said saddles need to be oiled at least once a year and should be kept out of the rain. They should never be stored in the sunshine.

"If a saddle gets wet, it will need to be oiled," he said.

Bailey keeps oil, as well as saddles and equipment in stock for his customers.

"Saddles are like everything else they come in expensive to cheap. I try to keep a good grade of saddles. I don't want anyone getting hurt. There are a lot of brands and some good saddles don't necessarily have to have "brand" names," Bailey said.

He recently made an old-time saddle horse bridle and the first one he made sold. Bailey copied it off an old bridle that his dad had for his horse. He used solid brass hardware. He also makes leather saddle bags.

Bailey said he has been at the same location almost 40 years.

"I can remember when I was advertising my gas for 33.9 cents per gallon and the grocery store next door had hamburger meat advertised for three pounds for $1."

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