BENTON COUNTY • The phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is a common saying used by those tasked with giving new life to previously trashed or discarded items or materials.
In the case of Benton County resident Ron Buse, the trash of others has provided the way for him to start Gridiron Classics, a handcrafted wallet making endeavor that specializes in making wallets out of footballs, no matter their condition.
“For years, I’d carry a wallet that I loved, and it just wore out,” Buse said when describing how the idea for these wallets came to him. “One day I did a quick Google search trying to find that specific wallet, and of course it had been discontinued and I couldn’t find one remotely close to it. I thought ‘well, let me do another Google search to try to see if I can find some unique style of wallet that would interest me.’ One of the first things that pulled up was a baseball glove wallet. I’ve been a huge fan of baseball. I thought I could take their pattern or something similar and put my own unique twist on it. I had an old football out in the garage, I started cutting and next thing you know I had a wallet I was somewhat happy with.”
The process of perfecting the technique and quality of the wallets was not a perfect one for Buse, who admits several footballs were used to fine tune the style and design of the wallets.
“I ruined a bunch before I finally got the craft to where it’s presentable,” Buse said.
Soon, however, Buse started producing wallets for customers all over the country, taking orders through his Etsy page. Etsy, an online marketplace for vintage and handcrafted items, offers craftsmen like Buse a place to sell their work. Buse's Etsy page is full of testimonials and positive reviews pertaining to the wallets he makes.
“Let’s put this thing out there and see what happens,” Buse said about putting his craft for sale. “All of a sudden we’re getting hits on the page, then the orders started to come. Pretty soon I find myself without footballs to make these wallets with.”
Buse soon made connections with coaches and suppliers to give him the stock of footballs needed to maintain his supply with demand. Buse also takes custom orders that could include footballs that are laying around that particular customers’ home, along with plenty of customization options for any wallets made.
After two years, Gridiron Classics has established itself as a provider of a unique product that has a personal touch. Any product ordered from Gridiron Classics is handcrafted by Buse himself, while Gridiron Classic's Etsy page allows for customers to get the best idea of what customization options are available. Buse also keeps a line of communication throughout and after the process to ensure customer satisfaction.
At the end of the day, Gridiron Classics is a perfect example of the type of resourcefulness and ingenuity that can improve the longevity and usefulness of any old or discarded materials, while showcasing the potential craftsmanship of local businesses.