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Discussion Starter #1
I've been a member here for close to three years. I've seen at least a half-dozen gunleather Makers wind up in troubles of various degrees in that time, some disappearing forever, others disappearing then magically re-appearing--and thought I'd pose a question. I didn't want to do a poll because it limits the amount of discussion available. This way, you can offer your opinions, and maybe shed some light on the whole deal.

Personally, I don't accept orders (at this time), and I do not accept pre-payment. My personal reasons are that I don't want to have your money until I've shipped your product.

Companies and individuals like Sparks, DelFatti, K&D, etc., have a history of doing what they say they'll do when they say they'll do it. I would have no problem whatsoever pre-paying these folks. Others, less-known, or with a shorter history, I'd have an issue with paying them in advance.

Where's your "comfort-level?" How much, if any, would you be comfortable paying in advance on a custom gunleather order? Half down? Zero down? Payment in full?

I'm curious to see your responses, just as I'm sure other Makers reading these threads are.
 

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After seeing the same things you have, I won't pay in advance until they're ready to start my order. If my order doesn't get to me when they say it's going to, I'm disputing the charges. If they want to charge me when my order is done, even better. No up front payments. So far I haven't gotten royally hosed by a holster maker and I hope I can say the same thing 20 years from now.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
After seeing the same things you have, I won't pay in advance until they're ready to start my order. If my order doesn't get to me when they say it's going to, I'm disputing the charges. If they want to charge me when my order is done, even better. No up front payments. So far I haven't gotten royally hosed by a holster maker and I hope I can say the same thing 20 years from now.
I agree, completely. Since the time to dispute a credit card charge is limited, and many of the custom-Makers list delivery times far beyond your time to dispute a charge, by the time one realizes he/she's being jerked around, you don't have any recourse via the credit card issuer. The time has run, and you're out of luck.

I won't pay "in advance," nor will I recommend doing so. I will happily pay at the time of shipment (or, at the time of "cutting leather") assuming I get a confirmation my item/s have shipped within a week or so. That includes a tracking or delivery confirmation number.

That way, if I receive a sub-par, or junk product, I have time to deal with it first through the Maker by returning it and seeking a refund, or, if necessary, getting a chargeback from my credit card provider.
 

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I like using Paypals or my CC. This way I have some recourse.

Otherwise the seller makes the terms of payment .
 

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Fist has hundreds of satisified customers and delivery is usually in 4-6 weeks...:yup:

Hey, what did you think I was going to say?:danceban:

This site has some great holster makers, too! I think you can quickly find out who delivers and who stalls...:ziplip:
 

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Where's your "comfort-level?" How much, if any, would you be comfortable paying in advance on a custom gunleather order? Half down? Zero down? Payment in full?
I generally only purchase quality products from reputable sources. When it comes to anything custom to spec, though, I'm in the "Payment in Full ahead of time" camp. The line of my comfort level is determined via vendor selection, not via payment method.
 

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I would pre-pay only if the maker had a long history of ethical business practices. Although I have never been burned from the standpoint of non-delivery, I have had to "fight" to get holsters delivered months after the promised date.

With long established makers such as Sparks, I have no problem giving my credit card, and them not charging until they are beginning to work on my order.

If a business must have all the money up front I consider that they must be in financial troubles, and I may never get the item or the money back.

I once order a custom gun from a maker. He was young and had an excellent reputation as a custom smith. He required 3/4 down up front and about 15 months to deliver. As it turned out he died, and guess what about the money? I did get some parts, but nowhere near the worth of the deposit.
Live and learn, and "A fool and his money are soon parted."

Regards,
Jerry
 

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Discussion Starter #9
"...With long established makers such as Sparks, I have no problem giving my credit card, and them not charging until they are beginning to work on my order.

If a business must have all the money up front I consider that they must be in financial troubles, and I may never get the item or the money back.

I once order a custom gun from a maker. He was young and had an excellent reputation as a custom smith. He required 3/4 down up front and about 15 months to deliver. As it turned out he died, and guess what about the money? I did get some parts, but nowhere near the worth of the deposit.
Live and learn, and "A fool and his money are soon parted."

Regards,
Jerry
I agree with that, too. With Sparks, there's a crew of (I believe) 5 or 6 people making their products. If one were to keel over belly-up, then you still have 4 or 5 folks able to competently fill your order. That's one of the reasons I cited Sparks in my original post. The other reason is their spotless, long-term reputation.

With a sole proprietor, you don't have that assurance. He or she could die, quit, or run off. In each case, you're out your investment unless it falls within the credit card company's window of opportunity to dispute the charge.

I'm curious to hear what folks use as a deciding factor in whether or not to lay-out a chunk of money on the word of a holster-maker. Primarily, why you would trust one, but not another. Or, why you would trust any.

Names aren't necessary--in fact, I'd rather no names are mentioned. I'm more interested in your personal motivations. Why do you trust who you trust. Why DON'T you trust who you don't? And, don't feel it necessary to name them.
 

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I am a new holster maker who works at holsters part time. Most of my clients pay up front but there is not an option to pay until we have all the details worked out. If someone is not comfortable then I will accept 50% up front and the balance once I am ready to ship. I completely understand someone not wanting to get burned or have money tied up for months on end. Please understand that I also do not want to be burned. I am a small business and would hate to make a custom holster for someone just to have them back out at the last minute.
My situation is a little different than bigger operations. I only make holsters for customers that have established an order with me. I do not make anything in advance or keep on hand stock holsters. In my opinion...if someone wants custom leather, they should be willing to pay at least half in advance.
Just my $.02.
Thanks,
Carl
 

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Discussion Starter #11
"I am a new holster maker who works at holsters part time. Most of my clients pay up front but there is not an option to pay until we have all the details worked out. If someone is not comfortable then I will accept 50% up front and the balance once I am ready to ship..."
I just took a look at your site, Carl, and you do very nice work. I appreciate your taking the time to post on this topic.
 

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A lot of it depends on the maker and his reputation. I've had some difficulties with a maker and it was frustrating but I'll admit, he more than made up for it in the end. Would I do it again? At this point, yes. There are a couple that I'll never order from again but everything was resolved one way or another.
I've also paid upfront with Lou Alessi, Gordon Davis, Ken Null, FIST, Comp-Tac and Nate at UBG before he started his current policy. There are many others that I'd feel comfortable doing so because of their reputation. John Ralston at 5-shot, Milt Sparks, Matt Delfatti just to name a few. Some of the makers on this forum like MNBurl or maybe even Bruce Gibson :wink: wouldn't concern me in the least.
Reputation is everything. Some get it, some learn it the hard way and some never do.

BTW, Bruce, I check your site at least a couple times a month. When are you going to start making belts again?
 

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I just took a look at your site, Carl, and you do very nice work. I appreciate your taking the time to post on this topic.
Bruce, you are welcome. I don't know if it helps your situation but I just wanted everyone to know it can be scary from either side of a transaction.

I have admired your work since seeing it on LW. Good luck on your site updating...you don't need luck on your leather.
Carl
 

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I can't find fault with anything stated above by Bruce Gibson or JD.

I should mention that DefensiveCarry members are quite safe buying from DC forum sponsors because they will not stay sponsors for very long if they start crapping around & playing games with member money.

Milt Sparks, Matt Del Fatti, Pure Kustom, UBG, Desbiens, Gibson Gunleather, Crossbreed, High Noon, South Fork, FIST, are all obviously non-problematic.

Eric from HBE (to his credit) has turned himself around and now does not charge customers until he is ready to ship their product.

Sadly Louis Alessi has passed away but, I am positive that the folks that are still producing fine holsters under the Alessi name would never conduct that business in such a way as to embarrass or demean the Alessi good name.
In much the same way that Tony Kanaley would never ruin the good name of Milt Sparks.
Sparks is just flawless regarding the way their business is run....thanks to Tony K.

And then the reason that I decided that I am All For Human Cloning is that scientists really need to clone Matt Del Fatti. The world desperately needs about 10 more Matts. :yup:

New to DefensiveCarry or entry level custom holster makers are treading on very thin ice when they charge a credit card right away these days.
That would be because the water underneath that thin ice has already been severely polluted by some real crooks that have preceded you.

So if you take that money in advance then you had best work all night on Sundays and even on Christmas Morning in order to meet your promised delivery dates or the Internet bad-mouthing will start and that is never very good for business.
Word travels lightning fast on the Internet and once it starts there is no stopping it.

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I should add that we have so many new members joining DefensiveCarry every single week.
Many of those newbie folks are probably asking: "Just Who IS This Bruce Gibson Guy?"
Bruce has had an interesting life.
You can read his story by going here: ~~~~> http://www.gibsonprorodeo.com/ABOUT US GIBSON PRORODEO JB GIBSON COMPANY.htm & though he is not quite as good looking as I am, there is a photo posted of him there also. :hand5:
Bruce is a genuine official Bull Rider. His assorted "Cowboy/Rodeo Leather" is of the very highest uber-professional quality.
I have never met Bruce "face to face" but, I am honored to call him a cyber friend.
These days his holsters are just as fine as his other Western leather work.
 

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Pretty much the same as people here: those companies with a track record of trustworthy delivery promises tend ALSO to not charge the CC until the rig is ready to be built. I would order from any of them (and indeed HAVE ordered from most of them) without a second thought.

But having been burned (and hearing a hundred or so similar stories here) by the one man shops who shine you on with a bogus delivery promise; then charge your CC within microseconds of taking the order; and then instantly become non-responsive and even evasive to follow-up phone calls; or when you actually get hold of them, it's always "your holster/belt/whatever is right here and will ship out this week" and of course doesn't; then next thing you know it's been 9 months and there's no products -- never again. We all know who these companies are ...never again.
 

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Pre-Order

I have issues, as a new holster maker, not taking something up front.
My business is MUCH smaller than the ones who have been doing this for 3x's as long as I have.
The money I receive is split between my survival and the holster building.
I have also been stiffed by a few people, even recently, who said they were going to pay when it was ready.
One had the audacity to say he sent cash, registered mail. It was then signed for by a Tony, not a Tonii (my wife).
Then when I asked him for proof, his computer ironically crashed and he couldn't pull up the record. When confronted, he promised money... let's just say I am now stuck w/ a Tuckable rig for a 92 and a belt.
I do not have deep pockets nor can I have a normal job type job. And thanks to disabilities, I couldn't retire; so my only promised income is from VA, which is only 50%. How could I even begin to survive. However, my wife works and helps me but I think you see my point.
I have made it a habit to be upfront, honest and if someone is unsure about buying from me, I will take a CC or PayPal before it is mailed. I often don't keep 35% for restock, because I know times are tough.
However, if it is an expensive rig, like the elephant one my wife now carries, due to a deadbeat, it has to be 50% up front, no matter what or no deal.
I think a buyer needs to do alot of research before buying from some of the newer businesses. There are so many forums and blogs, the information is almost endless. Also, call the builder or schedule and appointment to talk to them over the phone; or, if allowed, go to their shop and talk. I do that before having a smith work on my guns or someone work on my truck.
I agree w/ the comment that doing something dumb, as a builder, will ruin a career w/ the forum age, so to speak. It has helped my business and of course, there are a few who didn't like ME for some reason, which is fine.

Oh, another thing for buyers to look at, just from a buyer standpoint (which I truly am. I have a rig on order from Tim w/ TT for my Glock 27. Thanks Tim!) look at return policies, warranty and compare the look.
Most makers have a 3 day return policy; some longer. I believe all or all should, have a warranty to fix or replace something that was done at the builder level. Another thing is compare. You can pull up beautiful pics of the builders rigs. Look at the leather, look for scars. Stitching is big with me, because I am trying to get better and better w/ each one; granted, I have to say Mr. Del Fatti's is THE MOST AMAZING (bring in the 10 clones, pls.), it is dress, right, dress!
Look for tooling marks, ejection ports that are TOO detailed, to a degree, etc, etc, etc.

I appologize for going slightly off topic. I believe buyers should be informed. I have sent alot of people to Sparks, Rosen, HBE, K&D, UBG, and many other makers because I couldn't help them, I wasn't ready for what they wanted/or the level of perfection they are used to (Del Fatti, Nossar, etc). I would rather be brutally honest and lose a customer for a moment than get someone really ticked, for one reason or another, because I couldn't do what they wanted.

I will shut up now.

Cheers!
 

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I have been burned by a holster maker - Brommeland - who cheerfully took my money up front, then continued to lie about delivery dates for the next two years. Of course, this is a guy who, among other excuses, blamed his customers for his inability to deliver production. Lots of other people had similar experiences. I'll never, ever do business with him again and will tell anyone who asks to avoid him like the swine flu.

On the other hand, I paid in advance for several orders from Tucker Gunleather, and they came through earlier than promised, in every circumstance. I would not hesitate to order from them or recommend them. Although I've not done business with them, I'm aware of Milt Sparks excellent reputation and would have no qualms doing business under the terms they specify.

Eric Larsen, of HBE, had some troubles in the past, but never made excuses and took responsibility for his delivery problems. He's turned his business around and has kept every promise he's made to me. His policy is not to take payment up front, but only when the order actually is ready to hit the workbench. Plus, he lets you know when you're going to be charged. No qualms here about ordering from or recommending Eric.

As always, caveat emptor. Support the good people and spread the word about the jackasses.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
"...BTW, Bruce, I check your site at least a couple times a month. When are you going to start making belts again?"
Thank you for your input. I refer everybody looking for a gunbelt to Gun Belts by The Belt Man --Jim and his staff do excellent work, and I've never seen a bad word written about him. Belts are a major pain in the backside (in my opinion) not from the standpoint of actually making them, but from the "getting the right measurements from the customer" side. I've tried every way I know to take out the guesswork in getting a customer to provide an accurate waist measurement, but I was still getting way too many that either couldn't do it, or (in most cases) wouldn't do it. I need to call Jim and see how he does it.

I like making belts, and I'll be back at 'em again in the near future. In hopes of avoiding the problems I described, I'll probably just make standard sizes and offer them as they're available. Still avoiding taking advance orders. Credit for that suggestion goes to a friend of mine y'all know here as BikerRN.

Thank you, Silver Wolf for a very interesting and well-reasoned reply. I really appreciate the input from other Makers--it gives everybody a look at our side of the equation.

Personally, if something is what I'd call a "one-off," that being an item that's unusual (that I'll probably never make again) or that I wouldn't have much chance to re-sell if the original order-placer didn't ultimately pay for it, then I wouldn't have a problem with a deposit up-front. In my case, I almost always pass on those, and refer them to someone else. In most cases (unless they charge a bunch) a Maker will lose money on a "one-off."
 

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While I recognize the problem of the small shops, I believe that since it takes money to start a business one should have enough to operate on for some reasonable period of time until the orders come it, holsters are delivered, and the business is self sustaining.

I doubt that the makers that have developed a bad reputation started out to stiff anyone, but just did not have the business sense and got in debt and then did lack the integrity to carry through. Brommeland, for example, had a string of "bad luck" with FL hurricanes and moving problems. I am not sure he ever was very accurate in his projections, but evidently he did not have the money to operate after that, and got worse. Too bad as he is a superb craftsman in my view. But his business practices show a lack of integrity.

Maybe it is like one taking bankruptcy for protection, but in time pays every debt he owed.

Because we have seen some makers who had good reputations "go bad" I would not trust any new maker enough to pay up front. But such makers, like Tony, who have proven integrity I would pay up front and not worry about the several months it took for delivery.

In time the truth comes out, but it sometimes costs a few customers for it to happen.

Regards,
Jerry
 

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I prefer Horseshoe Leather, Tucker Leather, and UBG holsters.

Only one of those recquire pre-payment I believe, and I trust them.
 
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