Ford is finding all kinds of forgotten treasures as it prepares to demolish its product development center in Dearborn, Michigan—including leather worth more than $100,000. The company says around 250 cowhides that were to have become seat covers in high-end Ford vehicles will be donated to two small businesses in Detroit, a worker-owned cooperative that teaches veterans new skills and a nonprofit that employs survivors of domestic abuse, the Detroit Free Press reports. The first company, Pingree Detroit, sells handmade shoes and leather accessories, while Mend on the Move creates jewelry and leather goods from salvaged auto parts. "We are just starting to dream of all the possibilities that having a large quantity of leather will mean," founder Joanne Ewald says.
Ford says the leather stash is the accumulated leftovers from years of orders for prototypes. "This is a unique situation where we are able to donate bundles of real, automotive-grade premium leather to small businesses in Detroit," Jim Conner, 3D process director for Ford Design, said in a statement. "We’re excited to see these leather hides that were collecting dust in the basement be put to good use by impactful businesses in the community." He tells the Free Press that he is working to keep things out of the dump as the company clears out the building. "We have big areas where we've stored stuff for a long time. We knew we had these but we didn't realize the type or quantity," he says. "These are super high quality leather hides, the highest quality." (Read more Ford stories.)