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Lockdowns Slashed Furrier’s Sales
Jul 1, 2021 06:44 ET

[Reprinted from original]

Furrier Jimmy Karatzios is calling it quits, liquidating Frank’s Furs’ inventory and putting his building up for sale so he can retire after the pandemic slashed his sales in half last year.

“I’m going to close by the end of this year,” said Karatzios in an interview.

Based in northern New Brunswick, Frank’s Furs has been selling coats and accessories for 56 years to customers throughout Atlantic Canada. With its closure, there will be one furrier left in the Atlantic provinces that cleans and stores coats, Always in Vogue in St. John’s.

The Newfoundland furrier stores up to 5,000 coats every year, with customers shipping items from as far away as Halifax and Toronto. With the pending closure of Frank’s, Always in Vogue manager Darren Halloran expressed interest in an interview in buying Karatzios’s list of customers.

The furrier employs as many as 15 during its peak season and manufactures its own products in its 15,000-square-foot facility in St. John's, has a storage operation in Cape Breton and a store in China.

“We’re busier than ever,” owner Cindy Halloran said in an interview.

During the pandemic, its business kept humming right along, driven by Always in Vogue’s website and social media accounts to drum up sales, said Halloran.

“You have to get creative.”

In the small city of Bathurst, though, public health restrictions and lockdowns hit Frank’s Furs hard.

“I had six employees. Now, I have nobody, only my secretary, and she is part time,” said Karatzios.

During the pandemic, three main suppliers closed, making it difficult to source products. Public health restrictions also killed much of his foot traffic and pushed down sales.

Although the business has a website, Karatzios said it was only really good for marketing merchandise and selling accessories, not the fur coats themselves, which retail at an average price of $4,500 apiece.

“We’re selling accessories on the web. But garments? It is impossible. You have to try them on,” he said.

The privately held company doesn't divulge revenue or profit but Frank’s Furs is in the red. The numbered company that owns the Karatzios Building and is home to Frank’s Furs is still in the black.

Listed at $1.2 million, the circa-1940 building with a new roof has 11 apartments on the second floor, two street-level retail and commercial tenants, and storage and cleaning services in the basement. The furnished and heated apartments are all rented out at between $975 to $1,200 monthly, bringing in roughly $130,000 in annual revenue.

In their early 80s, Monique and Jimmy Karatzios were already well past the age at which most people retire. But he said he would have kept the business going were it not for the pandemic.

“The COVID issue pushed me over the (cliff),” he said.

Once the business is closed and the building sold, the couple plan to take it easy. He wants to visit Greece, his homeland, again.

“I came to Canada in 1959 at the age of 19 and I prayed to God that He would give me work,” Jimmy said.

“But He gave me too much”