A native of Minnesota, Patrick Collins now resides in Washington, D.C. and works as an environmental advocate. He has long had an affinity for all things bison, including eating bison steak. The name Big Empty was inspired by his love for wide-open spaces favored by buffalo and other wild creatures, and by his east and west coast colleagues who refer to everything between L.A. and New York as the “The Big Empty.” Unlike them, he regularly visits the Big Empty, and annually hosts the Ultimate PC Support Group Experience and Croquet Tournament with friends and family in Minnesota.
Buffalo leather makes one of the finest, longest-lasting, most luxurious leathers available. Even more than other fine leathers, well-crafted buffalo leather becomes softer and more supple as it’s used and broken in. We’ve enlisted a number of friends over the past year to put various products through the paces, and we’ve been impressed with the way the leather actually seems to get better with use.
CREATING JOBS in COLOMBIA
A key part of this project is our work with the people of Colombia, who are slowly extricating themselves from a long and brutal civil war. It all began during a visit to Bogota to identify worthy projects in Colombia that could create jobs for people either displaced by the ongoing hostilities or being demobilized from the armed factions.
It was here that I was introduced to their world-class expertise in leather. Extremely impressed, I decided to see what they could do with a bison hide. So, red tape be damned – I shipped one down, they worked their magic, and here we are today. Big Empty has now partnered with a grouping of four small Colombian businesses - a designer and maker of jackets; a designer and maker of bags; and two small tanneries – all which have one key thing in common: each has agreed to contribute to the future peace and stability of Colombia by hiring displaced or demobilized workers as part of this project.
And, while this project remains quite modest, we are proud to note that to date we have hired 17 such workers in Colombia, a number that - with success, well be able to increase.
For helping to make all of this possible, we owe special debts of gratitude to both Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and the late Congressman Henry Hyde (R-IL). Their dedication to helping the people of Colombia -- and their willingness to work together to make good things happen -- has been truly inspiring. Gentlemen, we thank you.
A NOTE ON SUPPLY
Due to a number of factors, the ready supply of the advertised products is very limited. First, we are a new business and are starting slowly, emphasizing quality and customer satisfaction over quantity.
And, while there are more buffalo in the United States every year, the number being harvested is quite limited and, of those harvested, the number yielding top-quality hides is even smaller. To keep things in perspective, the approximately 500,000 buffalo in the United States today are vastly outnumbered by the approximately 60 million cattle.
High-quality bison leather products will remain in very short supply for the foreseeable future. Please accept our apologies in advance should we be out of any of the items you order.
The 10% Deal
As part of our mandate, Big Empty Buffalo Leather is committed to dedicating 10% of our profit to prairie protection and restoration efforts, targeting efforts that will directly benefit bison and other wild species.Precisely what projects and when remains an open question at this time. For starters we’re just starting out and have yet to make a profit (that’s where you come in!).
That said, I’m fortunate to be on good terms with a wide range of individuals associated with bison in America. Those friends include several with years of experience working with the bison herd in Yellowstone National Park, the largest public herd in the world; friends in some of the best and most pragmatically effective environmental groups; and friends among the universe of tribes dedicated to returning bison to Native American lands. The primary goal will be protecting and restoring habitat, and rest assured that we will be shamelessly bragging up whatever we do.