You’re a traveler of distinction, looking for a luggage-buying experience that isn’t just another mall store or discount outlet. While most of the mainstream luggage has moved to chain stores, the St. Louis area still offers a few boutiques that can help you find just the right bag. Shop at a store that offers luggage repair services because it will know which products are reliable and will stand behind what it sells. Look for handcrafted items in a leather gallery where you can watch the craftsmen work. Or check out one of the area’s most unique vintage shops for a retro train case.
Shoemakers House in West County is owned by a second-generation leather craftsman who repaired his first pair of shoes at age 14. In business since 1968, the store has a reputation for repairing and restoring fine leather designs by Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Coach. The shop repairs shoes, handbags and other fine leather goods, including luggage. More than four decades of experience in mending broken handles, wheels, strapping and hardware translates into a unique ability to advise you on which pieces are built to last. The store carries a selection of luggage, briefcases and mobile cases and would be happy to guide you to the right piece for your needs. You can even check out the selection online.
On the Illinois side of the river, you’ll find this very unique shop that puts the art of leather-working front and center. As you browse the selection of shoes and leather accessories, the craftsmen’s tools are right in front of you, and you’ll often be able to see them at work. There’s an art gallery in the space as well, and on the first Friday of each month, the whole space is turned over to gallery openings and art happenings. The selection of handcrafted luggage items is mostly limited to messenger bags, book bags and briefcases, but if you’re looking for a truly distinctive carry-on piece or business case, this is old-world craftsmanship at its best.
TFA (The Future Antiques)
6514 Chippewa St.
St Louis, MO 63109
The cool kids in the Lou know that TFA is the king of resale shops. Too retro to be a thrift shop but not as pricey or exclusive as an antique store, this is the perfect niche for hipsters, pinup girls, rockabillies and those who cultivate a unique look that crosses eras. The store offers furniture, clothing, housewares and a sweet collection of old-school train cases, suitcases and wig boxes for the glam traveler. Finding what you’re looking for at TFA is not just a shopping trip, it’s an adventure. It’s a “retroplex” full of charm, wit and nostalgia.
Lauren Haas was the founder and publisher of The St. Louis Area Family Gazette magazine, and editor-in-chief of Marketplace Magazine. Now, Lauren is a full-time freelance writer who travels the world, using St. Louis as her base. Contact her at Lauren@LaurenHaas.com