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What could Furriers and Fur Stores change?


White Fox
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Folks, for a lot time I have recognized that we have some of the most dedicated and well versed fur store "rovers" around. Few are the members here who would have never been in a fur store. Who better to realize quickly what these folks are doing right. And for that matter what they do wrong. (When it comes to doing wrong, please do not name individual furriers by name! We do not want to be taken off line or land up in a law suit!)

 

We have had quite a few threads that explored this subject a short distance. I would love to see us travel just a little further on it.

 

Here is the challenge. Please be honest, and please do not suggest that the fur stores have a collection of 50 blue fox coats! Keep it reasonable.

 

But please give us your ideas on how furriers could change their businesses to help make the fur business better. How could they make their stores more attractive to you or others? How can they display their product better, or how can they improve their product line? Are there other ways to fight PETA that they have not yet found.

 

I would love to hear your ideas. I have a number of thoughts on this but I do not want to stifle your thoughts right off. However, I will give one idea in a post just below this one to help show my ideas and what I am thinking of for this thread.

 

Have fun folks. And hopefully some people from the fur industry just might be watching to see what we come up with!

 

White

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One idea to get you started.

I as others have always questioned this idea of pricing. How many hardwares do you go into where items have their price doubled or even more. And when you look at the product they say "Oh, by the way, that is on sale for half price." Hardware store owners would think us crazy if we suggested that to them. Yet furriers make it standard daily life!

 

If you go to a store to look at a product you would like to see an honest price listed on a price tag for that item.

 

So, my suggestion for the fur business is to think about just that. Pricing the product honestly! In turn, customers would realize that they are dealing with honest and reputable people and not someone trying to cheat them somehow!

 

W

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Excellent thread, WF! You have hit upon my biggest criticism already (which I have typed in more than one thread this year). I think far too many furriers appear to think their customers are ignorant when it comes to fur quality and fur prices. On average quality garments furriers will list exorbitant prices that you would only (maybe) pay if you were having a custom coat made using an exceptional bundle of pelts -- A practice designed to make their "sale" prices (which are really "regular" prices) look like a deal. Similarly, I have seen cheap pieced furs with "comparable" prices listed that were equal to what you would expect to pay for a full pelt garment -- Again making someone uninformed think they're getting a great deal. Yo, Furriers -- Play (and price) fairly!

 

Another gripe I have is that furriers neglect their men's departments. Usually they are in a dark-ish back corner of the store and often there is only one size of each garment -- Usually smaller or larger than the typical customer would need. I realize men's furs are less than 10% of the market -- But unless you offer a decent selection and inviting environment your men's sales are likely to trend toward 1% while your more savvy competitor (who shows the guys a lil respect) will likely trend toward 15%.

 

A final gripe I'll list is re: service. I have been in furriers where they smother you with attention and I have been in furriers where the sales associates disappear. I'd prefer a happy medium. Basically I want you to show me the dark corner where your men's coats are located, show me where the mirror is, and then leave me be to try on coats, compare prices and styles and quality, and dream. Be nearby and check on me occasionally because I will probably have questions (re: potential alterations, the merits of one color or style versus another one, etc.) ... But give me a lil space and privacy, okay?

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As one who works part time in a fur store, I will respond to JGalanos gripes.

 

Pricing:

I have not been working in the fur industry long enough to know why or when fur stores started posting jacked up "regular" prices. But I do know that some shoppers need to think the product is marked down 50% or more before they will consider making the purchase. The problem is convincing store managers that a phony appearance of "value" is not helping their sales.

 

Mens furs:

I agree that many furriers offer too few mens furs. I think this is due to the operators of most retail fur shops not recognizing the increased popularity and demand for mens furs. Also many furriers are struggling to stay in business and are reluctant to invest scarce resources in products for a market segment that they are not sure has sufficient demand to justify the investment. If you are looking for mens furs, let the staff know that you would like to see a better selection and might make a purchase if they had a better selection. Not until the store manager is aware that a demand exists will more styles be stocked.

 

Service:

Excessive or nonexistent service is usually due to a combination of poor staff training and an inability to "read" customers when they walk in. Also customers who do not respond to the clerk's greeting to let the clerk know what they are looking for can contribute to the problem.

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I think furriers are too 'upclass' to enter...

i wouldn't dare go in and just try some coats on or something...

 

if i had such a shop i think i would have some easy to go jeansjackets

with rabbitcollar in front..

think that makes it more easy to just go inside and see what;'s up there..

also for teenagers.. who then could become furbuyers for life

 

hope you get my point

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davey makes some very good points.

 

Downscale to get people in the door is always a good strategy regardless of what you sell.

 

Hi end audio shops that have survived have all gone to this strategy with budget systems of high quality.

 

This also points out an area furriers could create markets for themselves and not hide it in the back of the store but display them prominently and don't be so snobbish

 

On the backside of this is the security measures some furriers have had to go through to protect themselves [real or imagined] from PeTA and other anti radicals.

 

 

 

 

 

OFF

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On the backside of this is the security measures some furriers have had to go through to protect themselves [real or imagined] from PeTA and other anti radicals.
Security is a very big problem for furriers. Where I am PeTAzoids are only a minor irritant. But shoplifting and other forms of theft are a major problem. Those who cannot afford an RFID tagging system have had to secure the garments to the racks to deter theft of high cost merchandise.
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I grew up in an area with several neighborhood fur salons. A small local shop will do what it takes to make the sale and the customer happy. Their livelyhood depends on it. I belive they take pride and a personal interest in their work. The big stores need the work. I tried getting my new mink altered at a large store only to be steered toward a new overinflated coat for 7 grand. I was not listened to. These people just work there and want to make their commissions. Not a very friendly place. As for selection, mens furs are a novelty. I find it a good alternative to buy a large woman's coat and have it altered to fit you properly. My fox collared mink coat cost me $1450.00 in total as opposed to 7Gs for a new one. At the same token, if we show more demand for fur, I belive the industry will accomadate us. Maybe they will even update their styles a little. Most men's coats I've seen are pretty boreing. Anyway, that's my 2cents worth.

Edited by Guest
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My wife is very sketchy about the "hovering sales associate."

 

To the sales associate's credit, she's just trying to make a sale.

 

In defense of my wife, she just doesn't know how to "use" a sales associate.

(I don't mean "use" in the pejorative sense. I mean "to make efficient use of.")

 

What ends up happening is that there is this big, furry cloud of angst that develops every time we go into the fur store. My wife gets rattled by a seemingly pushy sales associate and the associate gets peeved off by a customer who tries on ten fur coats and doesn't buy anything.

 

I try to explain to the sales woman that we have to be budget conscious and that my wife needs to take her time picking out the coat she likes best. But, what ends up happening is that we always end up leaving the store without a coat and the sales lady ends up feeling like she got stiffed.

 

I always try to "make nice" with the sales person by, at least, buying a fur scarf or some fur-trimmed gloves or a fur hat or a fur Teddy Bear. Something to make the sales person feel like she didn't completely waste her time on us.

 

I have a few pictures of my wife trying on coats in the fur store just because I like to use them as a "visual notebook" to remind me of the coats we looked at and what she liked or didn't like. What I notice most is NOT the fur coat but my wife's expression as she's trying on the coat.

 

Every time I see a picture where the sales associate "hovered" my wife's expression is sullen and her body language is "stiff" and "closed." But on the few occasions when I was able to get the sales lady to step back for two minutes, my wife's expression is totally different. She smiles, her body language is fluid and she snuggles the coat.

 

When I'm taking those pictures, I'm looking about 70% at my wife's expressions and only about 30% at the coat. When I finally buy her a nice fur coat, I'll know it's the right one because of the way my wife reacts.

 

Now... If I could have just found a sales associate who even looks at the customer's reaction to the merchandise 50% of the time, I'd have a fur coat for my wife already!

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We are stuck with the old label of a fur garment being in the Rolls Royce league, therefore high priced with service to match. I guess years ago Jindo did try a more customer friendly approach, but what happened to them!

 

All these comments are great but limited by us and peoples perceptions. I fur was out their, and was being seen, more people would want so we as a group have to rid this taboo of 'stuffy old ladies' in mink. Have to give credit to Kostas and his new creations, target a younger audience with good prices and good service and fingers crossed. May the internet help fur sales, but by goodness, a tactile shopping trip to a salon is so nice

 

As to a salon, guess you can't please all of the people all of the time. Imagine having had no-one come in for hours and then a customer arrives. I would imagine most sales staff would be very pleased to offer help. Perhaps its up to us to say 'could I look at a few styles, be left a few coats to try on, then I'll get back to you'.

 

Guess we have to transmit our needs and it be respected.

 

Good topic....Auzmink

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I think worker makes a good point. There is a lot of "buyer's remorse" when it comes to furs (which then wind up on ebay with the words "worn only once" included in the listing). There are a lot of good sales staff out there ... But I also think there are a fair number who are more interested in earning a bonus that week than in creating a long-term relationship of trust with the customer ("buy something, buy anything already"). For example, due to weather a customer in Dallas who does not travel northward during the winter would probably get a lot more use out of a mink or sheared beaver jacket than a full length coat ... Or due to body shape a customer may look better in a short-haired fur or a fur with strong vertical lines ... Or due to personality or lifestyle a customer would probably get more use out of a less "showy" fur or a fur-lined garment ... And a good sales associate would probably ferret out/share this information with the customer to help them avoid potentially making an expensive mistake (nothing worse than a fur that never leaves the closet!). Unfortunately, there are some sales people out there with the ethics and tactics of the stereotypical used car salesman and any customer without good personal awareness/fashion sense is potentially his/her prey.

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I noticed the comment about the poor quality of men's coats and I agree totally. Fox4me for one I think mentioned it.

 

For instance earlier this year I looked at a men's coyote in a store. It just looked huge. Bulky. Unimpressive in almost every way. Very long bulky fur making a big guy look even worse. The, I tried on a hooded coyote with white fox made for women and it was instantly absolutely different! The coat had a much better fit. The fur was not as long and bulky. The style was so much better. Everything worked because the coat was of so much better quality. Yet the price of both was exactly the same! I think the problem is that there are so many preconceived ideas with men's furs that they still need to throw out the window and they still have not realized that yet.

 

As to buying before you leave. I would think that not many people would go to a fur store and buy a coat the first time that they saw it. This is a big investment. If you go to a hardware and buy a bolt, you do not need to make a big decision. A 10 mm bolt is a 10 mm bolt! BUT buying a coat that is that expensive is a huge decision. I would not really expect people to go into a store and find the coat of their dreams instantly and walk out with it. I would think that sales people in the business should realize that. However, on the other hand, I would never walk into a store looking disinterested, and look around and walk out.

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A man walks into a fur salon: The salesperson has to size them up:

1. A fetishist--they are going to come in and pet the coats, talk about a "sister" or "girlfriend," waste the time of the staff, and not buy anything.

2. An AR activist--they might cause a disturbance or harass other customers

3. A thief--distract staff so an accomplice can run out with a fur, or just grab one and go

4. A man shopping for his wife/girlfriend/etc--men are generally clueless about what women really want

5. A man shopping for himself

 

In all of the above scenarios, it makes sense for a salesperson to keep an eye on the customer. Their job is to give you personal service: find out what you want, and then bring you coats. You don't walk into a fur salon and start checking tags to see what is in your size: in many cases, the furs are not labeled according to size.

 

My wife and I get exceptional service from two of our local furriers. At one of them, there are two salespeople in particular...one who is very stylish and fashionable, who found my wife her perfect first mink, and another, who takes a more shotgun approach.."how about this one? maybe this one?" They're both lovely helpful people, but the stylish one is more valuable to us.

 

But one thing that will make them take you seriously is to become a buyer. Then, take your coat back there for storage and cleaning. Maintain the relationship. Keep them on the lookout for the perfect coat for you. But if you never buy, you will get a reputation.

 

Now, for the furriers: You must be accessible. You must be approachable!

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You don't walk into a fur salon and start checking tags to see what is in your size: in many cases, the furs are not labeled according to size.

 

In my experience this is not always the case. Several of the furriers I have visited have most of their stock on the floor (at least during the hours they are open). The coats are usually clearly marked with price and size. (I've often wondered whether they actually put them in the vault at night ... If they leave them out in the store year-round that would kind of imply cold storage is not needed if you have A/C at home.) Others, especially higher end furriers and those in the fur district, typically keep most of their stock in the vault and bring out garments as requested. I actually like both shopping options (assuming the salesperson is not over-bearing) ... But being an independent sort, I probably prefur the option of browsing and trying on coats at my leisure versus feeling dependent upon the sales associate -- But if the sales person is great, personal service can be a mighty fine experience.

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Just an FYI ... Furriers that I have visited that had a large selection of garments on the sales floor and where I was (reasonably) free to roam like a kid in a candy store included Elan, Andrianna, and the now deceased Evans in Chicago and Antonovich and Flemington in New Jersey. Also the now deceased Fur Vault at Alexander's and Men's Fur Boutique at Saks Fifth Avenue as well as a few simply packed with furs salons (in the district) in New York. As I said, both shopping experiences have their pros and cons.

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