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May 24, 1989

The Sandalman

Cory Bernatt has been known as the Sandalman for the past seven years. He has run a leather shop at 193 Harbord St. (at Bathurst) up until last October when his lease ran out. But, fortunately, he will be reopening at the same location for the summer (from June 7 to August 31.)

Cory, 24, has been doing leatherwork since he was six years old, while living in Florida. He picked up interest in the craft from his father, who left Toronto in the mid sixties and opened up a leather shop in Florida.

From that time on, Cory realized his definite interest in leather and did everything he could to enhance his ability. After he returned to Toronto, he took a four-year art course as well as a drafting course at Central Technical School, to further his skills.

During his schooling, he apprenticed under his father, until at age 17 he branched off and opened up a leathershop of his own. Over the past seven years, Cory has taken on many new challenges which have made him quite an expert in the field of leathercraft.

These include television movie props, the leather door handles at the Metro Library (Yonge & Bloor). The craftsman has also done various projects for such celebrities as Bruce Cockburn and Scott Hylands (Night Heat). He has done, too, a multitude of other custom orders and repairs.

Cory has visited Jamaica five times, and on two of his visits he researched the idea of setting up a program in which he would teach Jamaicans, who had interest in leather craft, how to make such items as sandals and other tourist goods in leather. He also wanted to teach the basic process of the craft.
He approached the Jamaican government from Toronto about his idea: but found the usual red tape which accompanies such a plan. The idea was well-liked, but the government was unwilling to fund the project.

According to Cory, "I went down there to set up a sandal making business, but found that it was more complicated owing to government restrictions and being non Jamaican, it was financially impossible to come up with the US $250,000 investment capital required."

Cory mentioned, too, that he went to the island with a Jamaican national, but he underestimated the connection that Cory had with many Jamaican people. That got in the way because the Jamaican national felt he knew what he was doing but had no idea about the leather business and what it takes to get such a business going.

"I went to Kingston to various shoe manufacturers, as well as many leather suppliers to procure all the information required.
I found out that the feasibility of such a business could be quite good, if managed by the right person," stated Cory .

The leather expert can be contacted at (416) 533-6-335 or E-mail

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The Sandalman Leathercare
1181 Davenport Road (corner of Oakwood and Davenport)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M6H 2V3
Hours 11-6 Tuesday to Friday 11-5 Saturday
Closed Sunday and Monday
416-533-6-335 (same backwards)

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