Cow's Ass Leather Shop Defends Its Customers

By Bob and Joyce Alders

Hampton Union, Tuesday, September 5, 2006

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]


Most often our customers
are the "family" type that
Hampton Beach wants to attract.

We would like to respond to the article written on Aug. 15 in the Hampton Union, regarding the sale of "weapons" at Hampton Beach.

As owners and operators of one of the retail stores at Hampton Beach that has offered cutlery items, which include pocket knives (inexpensive as well as expensive brands), novelty knives, swords and items for the Martial Arts for the past 15-plus years, I would like to present a picture of our typical cutlery customer.

Most often our customers are the "family" type that Hampton Beach wants to attract. It is mostly adult males purchasing something for their collection, decoration, or a knife to use at work. (After all, the majority of tourists that Hampton Beach attracts are from the blue collar working class).

At the same time, we have many moms coming in with their under 18-year-old children to purchase the item for them, be it for decoration, collection or use in whittling or fishing. We have sold Martial Arts items to both instructors and students.

We also sell pepper spray for self defense, which many women opt to buy for them-selves and fathers tend to buy for their daughters.

After reading the article we felt the use of the word "weapons" conjured up an image of punks and gangs overtaking our beach. We can't speak for the shops mentioned, but as owners of a family-owned and run business, this is not the image we wish for our beach by any means.

One should keep in mind that you can purchase "weapons" at Disney theme parks and who more than Disney attracts families!

We have tried to arrange our store so that the cutlery department is on the far side so that anyone not interested in cutlery can simply avoid its display and the casual passerby doesn't even know we sell cutlery.

We are vigilant about checking proof of age and go a step further in that we will refuse the cutlery sale to anyone appearing to be intoxicated or talking about the use of an item in an inappropriate way. All items purchased come appropriately boxed from the miniature one-inch folding knife to the long, broad swords.

In regard to the comment made by the owner of the Pelham Motel about the need or use for an item he described as a glove with blades, we don't personally know the item, but are guessing it is a replica from a Freddie Kruger horror movie. Many movies inspire people to collect replicas such as "Batman," "Y-Men," "Star Wars," and "Lord of the Rings," to name a few.

Although this may not appeal to him for lack of interest or knowledge, is it his place to determine what others choose to collect?

Having been in business at Hampton Beach for the past 29 years, we agree that the dynamics of the crowd has changed, but do not believe it is because of what is being sold. It is our understanding through talking to Chief Sullivan that these "weapons" have not been an issue in the Hampton Beach crime rate.

Although the items we offer are legal in New Hampshire and we adhere to the age restriction, we will no longer be allowed to sell cutlery items from the Casino building starting next season. We regret losing this portion of our store as cutlery, leather, and our choice of giftware compliment each other in display, but mostly we regret disappointing our cutlery customers who have been loyal to us for so many years.

We hope to find other items of interest and need for them to continue our relationship with this portion of our clientele.

Bob and Joyce Alders are owners of The Cow's Ass Leather Shop at Hampton Beach.