Georgetown Leather Design, a 10-store retail chain and leather-goods manufacturer, has been sold to the College Park company that owns Jordan-Kitt's Music Inc.
The leather company that began 20 years ago as a sandal shop on M Street NW was purchased for an undisclosed amount by Recreational Products Retailing, which owns the 16-store piano and organ retailer.
Georgetown Leather has evolved since the 1960s into a company with an Alexandria workshop where 15 modern-day cobblers are employed in the production of the company's Vintage and Valese brand handbags. Sales in 1983 were about $7 million, according to founder and former owner Mary Vinton.
The company now has 125 employes, who have been told they may remain under its new management.
Vinton said she had talked to several other prospective purchasers before striking a deal with William J. McCormick Jr., president and chairman of Recreational Products and Georgetown Leather Design's new chairman.
"Leather apparel is a very hot item," McCormick said. He cited the acquisition by W. R. Grace & Co. of a five-store Midwestern chain called Berman's Leather Experts, which has since been expanded into a 100-store company.
But he said he does not plan to change the chain's marketing, which is aimed at the upper-income, "fashion-forward" customer.
"Our customers are predominately female, although we sell more men's apparel than women's," said Vinton, who will remain as a consultant to the company for about a year. "We are sticking with the basics and classics. The handbags we make ourselves have become a mainstay. We will always have leather vests, we will always have wooden clogs, a harness leather belt."
McCormick said he hopes to expand the chain to Philadelphia, New York and Boston.
Besides Jordan-Kitt's and four music stores in Colorado, Recreational Products Retailing's acquisitions have included two sporting goods chains, one in Ohio and another in California, which were bought in the mid-1970s and then sold.
McCormick said he has hired a former executive of the Ohio sporting goods company, Don Leimenstoll, to be president of Georgetown Leather Design.