Hinsdale Furriers changes with the times
Melissa Waters tries on her favorite fur coat at Hinsdale Furriers. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Wrapping it up
Firm: Hinsdale Furriers
Location: 33 E. First St.
Specialty: Fur sales, storage, cleaning, repairs and redesigns
Hours (through Dec. 23): Monday-Wednesday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday-Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Contact: (630) 323-4913, www.hinsdalefurriers.com, www.thisOldFur.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated: January 7, 2013 6:07AM
HINSDALE — Neither Suzie Duboe Bryant nor Melissa Waters had planned to be involved in the family fur business.
But both have been instrumental in Hinsdale Furriers reaching its 60th year.
Duboe Bryant was going to be a teacher but when her father became ill, she stepped in to run the business and 32 years later, she is still there.
Waters was going to be a pharmacist, but when Duboe Bryant donated a kidney to a friend, someone had to run the business while she recovered. Waters, Duboe Bryant’s step-niece, stepped in and 16 years later, she is still there as well.
“It’s addicting, and it’s fun,” Duboe Bryant said inside the furrier, located in downtown Hinsdale.
Hinsdale Furriers offers new fur and shearling coats, jackets and accessories, as well as on-site fur-coat storage, cleaning, repairs and redesign. The First Street business now also includes This Old Fur, a fur-consignment shop, and Formally Hers, a consignment site featuring formal wear, cocktail attire, bridal wear, shoes and evening bags.
Duboe Bryant remembers even though she had run the business for four years while her dad was sick, when she “officially” took over after his death she had to deal with sexism.
“People would come in and they would walk right by me,” Duboe Bryant said. “One business sent a girly calendar. I called them up and told them to never send that again.”
It was her strong leadership that led to Duboe Bryant being named Women Business Owner of the Year in 2007 by the National Association of Women Business Owners.
That independence can be seen in the shop’s clientele too.
“It used to be that a lot of women would bring their husband back to show him the coat and ask if it would be OK to buy,” Duboe Bryant said. “Or husbands would come in and buy for their wives. I would sell three coats a year to single women.”
Waters, who started at the family business at age 15 for “a summer job,” has brought technology and a revamped look to the store. Her efforts are paying off. The business is drawing a younger clientele with the average store patrons between age 30 and 55 years.
“And we have doubled our Internet sales,” Waters said.
While the economy can play a role in the purchasing of luxury items, such as furs, “it is the weather more than the economy,” Duboe Bryant said.
The business’s consignment shop has really taken off, Waters said, noting an average of 15 calls a day come in from prospective consignments sellers and buyers.
“People can get great deals and great coats,” Waters said. “People can get three used coats for the price of one new coat.”