By Jeff Sherman Staff Writer Published Mar 24, 2002 at 6:52 AM

A lot of things in Milwaukee are changing, and that's a very good thing. But it's also nice that many things are remaining the same. One of those constants is a store that many of you may not even know about, Mitchell Leather Factory Outlet Store.

Since 1968, Jerry Mitchell has been making some of the finest leather bags, wallets, attaches and briefcases. Mitchell is Milwaukee's leather expert. He makes a fine product, loves what he does and takes time, with each and every sale, to give customers exactly what they want.

At one point the company produced more than 1,000 pieces per day for fine department stores throughout the world. Today, Mitchell sells direct at limited stores hours and by appointment and produces no more than 1,000 fine leather products annually. As he put it, "today we make peanuts." But, "we want to make the very best."

Mitchell says you can spend nearly $500 on a briefcase from another maker, but you will not get the quality, engineering and style he offers. Mitchell, who actually used to do work for Coach, sells his briefcases for about $300 to $475.

For the 66 year old Romanian, serving his customers is his life. Mitchell will admit that he doesn't make his product to make tons of money. He makes a quality product to be the best in the business. He's a passionate salesman, and he relies on his genuine personality, quality product and word of mouth to sell his product.

So what makes his leather so darn good? Engineering, says Jerry.

"We make each handbag and each product unique. No mass production. I am an engineer," says Mitchell. "They are very attractive."

There will never be a briefcase just like yours. At Mitchell Leather, you pick the color, you pick the grain and you pick the look. All briefcases are beautiful and have character. He only sells you a briefcase that is attractive and one that will last a long, long time.

Mitchell Leather Factory Outlet Store offers top-of-the-line products. Mitchell holds numerous patents for his bags, and he will proudly show you them if you ask. Their leather briefcases will last a lifetime when properly cared for, a claim he's particularly proud to make. Each briefcase features a detachable and personalized shoulder strap, modular handles, integrated metal frames, no sag back pocket and solid brass feet with inserts made of lush leather in an array of colors and combinations. The patented modular handles and metal frame are guaranteed for life. The store also offers a full line of luggage.

No matter what your leather briefcase needs are, Jerry Mitchell can help you out. He can also teach you a thing or two about volleyball. But, that's another story.

Take the tour, see the briefcases being made and buy one. We did, and it's held up great.

Mitchell is a Milwaukee treasure, and his work helps put the city on the map. You'll love this place. It's at 226 N. Water St. Call 414-272-5942 or 800-583-0946 for more info.

Jeff Sherman Staff Writer

A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.

He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.

Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.  He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.  

He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.

He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.