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How to know a fair price for a new fur when you see it?


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Does it have to say "huge mark downs" to be a good buy? Only, if you are buying from someone that over prices. So where do you start?


This is a dilemma that plagues the industry because of the inconsistent and crazy markup pricing.


I have my own thoughts on this. But, I would love to hear some of the "Fur Vultures," as Carol calls them, or professional fur sales people express their opinions.


Also, how does the skyrocketing pelt prices play into this?



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Here is what I have been taught.


Start with the retail price and work back.


Retail marks the product, in this case fur, up 100%. So a fur retailing for $10000, was bought from a wholesaler for $5000. Everyone uses the retail number as the actual price of the fur.


The wholesaler has a 20% to 25% profit built into his price. So his cost is $4000 with $1000 profit. The $4000 consists of the price of the pelts, his labor costs and his overhead costs. I have always used 70 as the number of minks needed to make a coat. The cost of the pelt is determined mostly by the quality of the pelt and the sex of the animal. A rule of thumb is that a female pelt is more expensive than a male pelt assuming the quality is the same.


All markdowns are from the retail price. So when a wholesalers tells you that he is giving you a 50% discount, all he has done is remove the retail mark up and he is still making his profit.


The fun in buying from a wholesaler is when he is going to liquidate his stock to a closeout specialist. This is the guy from Filenes Basement who buys the stock at 10 to 15 cents on the wholesale price dollar.


This is the procedure used in many of the businesses dealing with clothing. I've always tried to buy just before the closeout specialist arrives. As Linda states, 'These guys play hardball' and the only way to buy is that you have to be a real bitch. You must know what you want, how it is priced and haggle hardball style. Also don't let the language bother you. You will be called a crook, a person stealing food from the mouth of his children and anything the wholesaler can think of to put you on a guilt trip. Once you have reached a deal, it is strict cash and carry with the item never leaving your sight. In the case of fur, my first stop is my furrier to see if minor alterations are needed, cleaning and putting in a new lining.


Oh the fun of shopping at the wholesaler on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Excellant post, JGalanos.


I know of retail furriers whose standard markup is 300% or more. Comparison shopping is frequently the only way to determine a reasonable price.

Cavet Emptor

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Very true!


I may have told this story before, so sorry. I have been in this business a little over five years, since 2001, and started this business from scratch with no furrier friends or connections. And, the only knowledge I had was my love of fur.


When I first went to New York in 2004 to make major purchases, I walked into the New York fur district's fur vaults for the first time. I almost died! By then I had a pretty good understanding of furs, but the quality of mink baffled me. I still have a way to go on this one.


In one particular vault there were furs that retailers had taken on memo and returned, which means they can be return if not sold, no money upfront. There was a very nice mink there, no special labeling, no designed label either. Just a very nice female mink 52" with classic styling.


This coat was priced at Fall 2003 prices with wholesale price of $1900. (Now $3900!!) The tag from the furrier said $14,400 marked down to $12,000!!


Now this is the problem, there really are $14,000 minks. So, was it a good buy? Or, a rip off? Only when you knew the wholesale did you know. Unless you are very knowledgeable in mink pelts and construction.


I bought six of the $1900 minks, priced them at $4200 and sold them for around $3500 each.


You know what though? Now people thought they were cheap minks!!! Wanted me to lower the price even more.


Since then prices really have gone up; way up! What are the retailers going to do? How does a buyer ever know when they are getting a fair price? Even worse, how does an honest retailer communicate the value that they bring to the marketplace? An educated buyer is a dream that not many of us have.


I had a lady come into my store and she quickly looked around. You could tell she knew furs. But, you know what she said, "Why are your furs so cheap??" She left, I am certain without buying because I had no relationship with her, so she could not trust what she saw.



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Can't remember if I told you. It has been proven to me many times that the price of something can be too high. But, if you lower it too far people will not buy it because they think something is wrong. I have had brand new items on sale that would not sell. Raised the price and called them used and they sold in an instant. That was not once or twice either.


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My God, I hope you are not telling me that you won't go out with me any more if I keep buying my clothes in stores like Filene's Basement! And here I thought you were impressed with the Hip Hop look of my furs when we went out.

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