Northern furrier closing its doors after 113 years in business
SUDBURY -- One of the longest-standing businesses in northern Ontario will close at the end of the month. For more than a century, Lafrance Furs has been operated by members of the family spanning three generations.
The owners now say it's time to retire to enjoy their health and family.
"It started in 1908, we were a raw fur business at that time, and then eventually in Sudbury," said owner Marc Lafrance. "We were up north in Chapleau, Missinaibi, and then moved to Sudbury in '21 and then eventually got into the storing of furs, repairing of furs and manufacturing of furs."
Marc and Claire Lafrance have worked together for the past 48 years and admit they will miss the business.
"I think the customers, their loyalty and their friendship, and of course working along with my husband all this time and we still get along," said Claire with a chuckle.
Over the years, the furrier had stores in Sudbury, North Bay and the Sault before operations were consolidated to the main Sudbury location.
'Everyone wanted to have a fur coat in the '80s'
"Everyone wanted to have a fur coat in the '80s, there was always a demand but in the '80s it just blew right out of proportion," said Marc.
The family said it has seen many changes in the fur business over the years.
"Coats have changed so much -- people are so used to seeing big long coats with long fur," said Marc. "I was telling someone this morning, I said, it's just like the cars, you know, the cars were 18 feet long, and then all of a sudden they are six feet long, they have changed tremendously. Well, the same with the coats."
Refurbishing old fur coats that are no longer being worn has become a popular way to pass down a family heirloom.
"We had one lady that had a fur coat, she had hats and mitts made for all the grandchildren for Christmas, so they all got a piece of grandma's coat," said Claire.
The Lafrance family said interaction with customers, valued employees and the friendships they have shared over the years have greatly enriched their lives.
The business will officially close March 28.