On March 5, someone broke into Orox Leather Co, a multi-generational, family-owned leather line. In a matter of seconds, an unidentified person smashed the custom glass storefront and stole 49 leather items amounting to $16,000. To make matters worse, in early February, at the same Orox location, a thief stole 83 items worth $10,000. Despite starting out their first fiscal quarter with both monetary loss and emotional battering, the Martinez family promise not to let it get the best of them.
“We are resilient. You know, we make our product with that kind of durability. We've been through difficult times already. And this is just one more instance,” cofounder and general manager Martin Martinez says. “We will come out stronger. But that's where we are right now, trying to concentrate on what can we do to prevent this.”
Insurance often does not cover the full cost of the burglaries, as is the case for the Martinez family. There is the wood and labor to board the shop up, there’s the loss of business while they replace the glass storefront, the time lost to filing claims, police reports, and more. Additionally, Martinez says insurance will only replace the stolen goods at 50 percent the retail price, making the whole experience a devastating one for a small business that’s just been through a historically treacherous year.
Leather as the family trade started in the 1930s in Oaxaca, Mexico, and the craft has been passed down from generation to generation since. Now the whole family lives in Portland, and since 2012 José Martinez, his three sons—Martin, Levi, and Kevin—along with his wife Jackeline, make luxury leather pieces from crossbody bags to everyday wallets to belts with complimentary monogramming right in their Chinatown store for all to see. (Read our profile of Orox Leather here.)
Martin says the police have no suspects for the break-in, and the Orox team is dutifully monitoring Craigslist and other online sites to see if their products, all embossed with the Orox logo, pop up. They ask for the community’s help and to contact them if you see Orox products online, in resale shops, or have any leads based on the break-in video above. Right now, Martin says the family is trying to stay positive.
“We’re very hopeful. Our focus is to see Portland like before the pandemic. We want it to flourish again. Our city had that attractive appeal. We are so blessed to have that location. We’re very proud of it. We will have to keep that location closed for a moment, we have to get the door and all,” he says. “If you have the possibility you can support us via online or the Chinatown location which is still open—buy a gift card for Mother's Day or Father's Day. That's the kind of support that we need right now. We don't know when we're going to be able to open back up.”