Flasher man senses new possibilities in leatherwork business

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 2:56 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FLASHER, N.D. (KFYR) – For more than 20 years, Cliff Naylor brought us weekly stories from Off the Beaten Path.

You’ll find many of his favorites in his new book, “Dakota Day Trips: The Road to Rural Wonders.”

He’s been sharing those stories and giving us an update on some of those classics on First at Four over the past few weeks.

One of the most recent stories he revisited was the story of Ray Riehl, a leather worker from Flasher.

The update from Riehl, is good news.

So good, in fact, Jody Kerzman and Cliff headed back to Flasher to revisit R & R Supplies.

Ray Riehl doesn’t work as much as he used to.

“I take Sundays off,” he said.

But Monday through Saturday, you’ll find him in his workshop.

“I’m out here from about 6:30-7 in the morning until 5:00,” he said.

Riehl stays busy creating lots of things, like saddles and dog harnesses out of leather. He started R & R Supplies in 1987.

“I didn’t think it would be this long going,” Riehl admitted. “I should be retired because I’ve been in business for 35 years!”

Instead, he’s crafting new items, like these leather flyswatters. He got the idea when a friend brought one back from the National Finals Rodeo.

“I figured, well, I’ve got nothing else to do and I’ve got all this scrap leather, I might as well use it up for something. So, I started making flyswatters,” Riehl explained.

His work is detailed and precise. What makes it even more impressive: Riehl is blind. He lost his eyesight more than three decades ago.

“February 24, 1986,” he recalled. “I had a head-on collision with a pickup and the hood of the pickup came through the windshield of my car. I used to go to rodeos, I used to be a pick-up man and all that, and I used to truck, and now I had to learn something new.”

That’s when he discovered leatherwork.

“It’s something to do,” he explained. “I didn’t know how to run a sewing machine until after I was blind.”

Riehl quickly mastered the sewing machine and has been creating masterpieces from leather ever since.

He’s never seen his work.

“I just go by feel, that’s all,” Riehl stated.

It seems Riehl has just the right touch for this kind of work.

If you are interested in purchasing some of Ray’s work, give him a call at 701-597-3568.