Main Street’s Mule Skinner Boot Shop closed at the end of 2019 after nearly a quarter-century in downtown Chelsea. Owner Bill Conn started out in 1969 selling handcrafted leather belts and barrettes at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market and had stores in Ann Arbor before settling in Chelsea.

Bill’s wife, Pam, says he knew last summer at age seventy that it was time to retire and “enjoy his first Saturdays off in forty-five years.” He’ll still operate Mule Skinner Leather Goods by appointment out of office space upstairs, where he’ll sell his handmade leather holsters and gun belts as well as leather concealment vests.

Pam Conn, who owns Wines on Main next door, will close her business April 1 to join Bill in retirement. Pam launched the shop–which sells boutique wines and wine accessories and features a bar and seating in the back–four years ago when the couple purchased half the building and moved Mule Skinner from its prior location up the street. Bonnie and Scott Cook own the other half of the building, where they operate Kitty Face, a baby and children’s store.

Pam says the Mule Skinner space has “had a lot of interest,” and she’s hoping to sell her wine business. “If someone takes over, I’ll help them” with the start-up, she says. “The hardest thing is we were just getting started, and we were on the cusp of making money.”