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Business profile - Hinsdale Furriers

 

November 28, 2019 | View PDF

Jim Slonoff

Hinsdale Furriers' Melissa Waters is looking forward to the holiday shopping season as a small village business. She appreciates the way customers support local shops as well as the cooperative spirit among merchants in an effort to promote the success of small businesses.

When the temperatures dip, activity at Hinsdale Furriers surges, whether its new purchases being made or longstanding clients collecting winter outerwear from summer storage.

Store manager Melissa Waters relishes the familiar warmth that enfolds those customer connections.

"I like knowing the customers, having that relationship with the customer, recognizing people when they come in and having them recognize me," said Waters, now the fourth generation of her family to oversee operations. "Before they give me their name, I already have their account up. If I don't know their name, I know what their coat looks like."

Small Business Saturday on Nov. 30 salutes that close-knit, locally rooted spirit, a cue to shoppers to explore their in-town independent merchants during the holiday gift-buying season.

Waters said having no corporate office to answer to allows the shop to be nimble responding to changing tastes. For example, while long fur coats are prominently featured on the sales floor, they share the space with lighter, fabric pieces with fur trim.

"People are moving out of the full-length mink coat. If they're wearing something, it's something that's a little bit in between seasons, lighter-weight cashmere sweaters and young-style hats with the poms," she said. "You want to bring new people in, but you don't want to turn away the people that have been coming for so many years. You want to keep what's tradition, but you also want to appeal to a new crowd."

Summer time is storage and cleaning time, as customers bring in their articles for safe-keeping during the offseason. Others no longer have need for their coats but are reluctant to part with them for sentimental value. That's where coat remodeling comes in.

"We can take an old coat and make it new, make a different style, make pillows and blankets, accessories for gifts," Waters said. "We try to remind people that we do that. People do end up with coats that they don't know what do with."

All services are handled on site. When it is time to bid "fur"well to a piece, Hinsdale Furriers' consignment shop is ready to receive it.

"A lot of people don't even want to try and sell it themselves, that's why we have such a huge

consignment," Waters said

Women aren't the only ones in the market apparently.

"If we get something on consignment that's men's, it usually goes pretty fast," she remarked.

Forging bonds with clients allows for productive exchanges on potential new offerings in the store, a Hinsdale fixture since 1952.

"We're always asking customers, 'What would you like to see?' " Waters related.

That led to stocking more fur boots and slippers, and poms for youngsters as fashionable backpack attachments.

A shared interest in promoting the local economy sparks collaborative promotions among village merchants, Waters said.

"It's nice to connect with the other small businesses," she remarked, citing a Dec. 3 fashion show with Jeans and Cute Top at Harry & Eddie's restaurant.

At the end of the day, patron satisfaction is the warm embrace Waters cherishes.

"I had a customer bring me flowers because she was just so thrilled with how easy (a coat remodel) was," she said.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean

Email: kknutson@thehinsdalean.com
Phone: 630-323-4422, ext 103

 
 

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