As 2016 comes to a close, the Savannah Morning News, Business in Savannah and savannahnow.com have selected several longtime Savannah companies and organizations that have contributed tremendously, many of them for decades, in the local business environment.
The Business in Savannah staff chose the honorees from a list of nominees submitted by local business and community members, utilizing broad criteria – from growth and success to community involvement.
Location and hours.
3801 Bull St.
In season – Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Off Season – Hours vary
How long have you been in business?
Since 1895, we’re one of Savannah’s oldest businesses.
How many employees do you have?
Four or five, depending on the season
How would you describe your business?
We’re a unique source for outerwear, we’re not just fur and we do all types of outerwear. We are the oldest full service furrier in the southeast, and we also sell and we take things on consignment and trade-ins. Another large part of our business is restyles and remodels, said JoAnne Ellis, CEO of Kirschner.
We can take a piece and turn it into a vest, we can shorten a coat, we can make knit scarves and we can take mink and have it sheared. I also make custom purses, so if a person wants to share something that belonged to their mother or grandmother a good way to do that is to have the purses made and they’re customized to the personality of the person that is going to be using it.
The other part of our business is storage. Everything is stored on-site; it’s not shipped off somewhere. If you put your fur in storage and it’s still warm here, but you’re going somewhere cold, you just walk in and say you want your fur; we walk in the back and hand it to you. When you come back home, you bring it back and we hang it up and we don’t charge for that.
We also service many cities surrounding us, from Charleston down to the Florida line and Augusta and around. We pick up your fur in the spring and deliver it back in the fall. What makes us unique to any other place that does that service is that it’s locked up in the vault the same day. It’s not stuck in a closet, it’s not shipped somewhere with someone who isn’t a furrier handling your fur. We take it in and inspect it, so that if we notice rips or tears or it needs cleaning you know right up front.
How has your business changed over the years?
You think of fur you think of heavy, but southern women don’t need heavy fur… It’s evolved into lightweight and functional. A fur isn’t just to wear once in a while when you get dressed up to go somewhere fancy, furs are meant to be worn every day, whether it’s going to the grocery store, going out to lunch, dinner or a party.
We have something for every woman, for every lifestyle and every budget.
What has been your biggest challenge and how have you overcome it?
I think the biggest challenge was educating women that not all fur is heavy. Presenting ourselves to a woman who likes something unique to wear, but lightweight that will fit her lifestyle and educating people that you can have something nice to wear, but it doesn’t break the bank. And we have done that very well by working with the same set few of vendors, because we know they’re always going to provide the quality and they take care of us so that we have good pricing. And the same goes for our restyle and remodels. When we send something to have it done we’ve never had to give someone their money back. We satisfaction guarantee.
What aspect of the business are you most proud of?
Being able to offer something unique and have a woman come in just to shop and play, but she find exactly what she wants. She finds something she loves and is going to wear; she gets excited and we get excited.
Stalwart is defined as “marked by outstanding strength and vigor; loyal, hardworking and reliable.” What is it about your business that makes it a Savannah stalwart?
We’ve been in business for a longtime. When people think of Kirschner Furs they think of quality, first-rate service, because customer service is very important to us. And getting repeat customers, we’ve had some customers since long before we bought (the business) and they call us Mr. and Mrs. Kirschner, because they haven’t noticed a change in service or quality.
We also support many charities throughout the community. We’re a Savannah business; we’re not seasonal where we come in and leave. We are a Savannah business.
What do you hope for the future of your business?
We hope to continue to grow and expand as we have every year. You’ve got to think outside the box and constantly offering the needs of the people as it is today, not like it was 20 years ago… Improving the services that we can offer and educating people on the importance of storing their fur and taking care of it, not just when they buy it. If you take care of a coat it’s going to last you 30 or 40 years, so enhancing and constantly offering more services to our customers and we greatly appreciate that we have so many loyal customers and we have customers from all over the country, it’s not just Savannah.