Saving My Bag

Neal3K Handle With Care via photopin (license)

A series of posts by a Toronto-based novelist who’s trying to reduce her carbon footprint by making more thoughtful choices in her daily life.

 By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist. Please sign up for free updates at ‪ 

I’ve always loved leopard prints; among other things, I’ve owned a leopard print dress, pants, shirt, blouse, sweater . . . even a belt. So when I spied a large brown leather shoulder bag with a haircalf, leopard print front on Banana Republic’s website in the fall of 2011—the bag was part of the store’s 1960’s-themed Mad Men Collection—I just had to purchase one.

I took very good care of that bag, keeping it clean and treating the leather with a special conditioner several times per year to keep it soft and supple. Unfortunately, I discovered that haircalf is very difficult to take care of. The haircalf front of my bag became more and more bald with each passing year, and by the fall of 2019, it looked awful. I was ready to buy a replacement . . . but I didn’t.

Why? For one thing, haircalf bags cost a fortune. Also, the rest of my bag—the leather—was still in decent shape. It seemed wasteful to toss it out, and I didn’t want to hurt the environment. I knew that nobody would purchase my damaged bag if I donated it to a resale store and that it would end up in a landfill.

So I started hunting for a shop that would either dye the bald spots on the haircalf to conceal them or replace the front of the bag with a new piece of haircalf.

None of the shops I approached were willing to take on the dye job. One shop was willing to replace the haircalf panel . . . at a cost that was far higher than the price of a brand new haircalf bag! I was about to give up and buy a new bag . . . then I had an idea: Maybe I could replace the damaged haircalf front with a piece of plain leather.

The owner of the shoe repair shop in my local mall offered to take on the job for the reasonable price of $120 (versus $500 and up for a new haircalf bag). He replaced the damaged haircalf front with a piece of reddish-brown leather that contrasted beautifully with the rest of the dark brown bag. Two weeks later, my bag looked like new.

I now have a lovely bag that didn’t cost a fortune and is much easier to take care of than the old version of the bag. And my contribution to the world’s landfills was minimal: a panel of damaged haircalf instead of an entire bag.

Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at or on Twitter at and sign up for free updates at ‪  Kathleen’s first novel, Love Is the Punch Line, a midlife romance set in the world of stand-up comedy, is available NOW, in trade paperback and ebook from ( and Indigo Books and Music ( Visit the Love Is the Punch Line Media Room at

Author: kath1960

A lover of words who writes from the heart. Welcome to my site! I’m a refugee from the corporate world, a lover of books, dogs, and 1940’s/1950’s vintage clothing (not necessarily in that order!), a wife and a mom . . . and, oh yeah, a novelist! My first novel, a lighthearted romance set in the world of stand-up comedy, will be published by Moonshine Cove in April 2018.

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