By David Parker
rant Ritchie is very proud of the fact that Benzing Charlebois Furs has been a family-run business in this city for 75 years, and since he purchased it in 1981. And now after 30 years of running a successful store and storage facility, Grant is pleased to hand over the responsibility to his daughter, Tyania, who after working as an interior designer has accepted her father’s offer to become the new generation of fur retailers full of new ideas. Tyania has been involved in Benzing Charlebois Furs since high school and worked in the store for a couple of years alongside her father. With young determination, Tyania sought experience outside the family business, working her way up to management. Her creative spirit led her to open her own interior design company as a consultant. In 2007, her expertise took her back to what she knew and loved the most - the family store, located at 2nd Street and 11th Avenue SW. Although Grant intends to be at the store from time to time, Tyania is the new owner and she has already put her stamp on the offering of new season’s designs and a bigger inventory of attractive accessories. She is thankful for the many, many loyal customers that Grant has built up over the years and is now attracting their daughters and new buyers with exclusive, distinctive and luxurious pieces with which they can express their own personal tastes. Rosemary Crawford, a long time employee, continues to lend her many years of experience with the trade. There is now a strong demand for styles that feature furs that are sheared, dyed, laser cut or embossed. The industry has changed greatly since a fur coat was long and heavy, bought primarily to keep out the cold. Furs are still worn to help a person keep warm but today’s designs that have a significant presence on the world’s fashion catwalks and in high-quality magazines are lightweight, elegantly modern and a joy to wear on so many occasions. One of the nicest things about a fur is that is it so lasting, giving many years of pleasure, but it does need looking after.
Tyania Ritchie and her father, Grant Ritchie, in their store located at 2nd Street and 11th Avenue SW. Photo by Mary Savage.
Benzing Charlebois Furs has an off-site, secure 6,000-square-foot storage and manufacturing facility where hundreds of customers’ furs are looked after, hanging in two storeys of temperature and humidity controlled open space. It is also the workshop of the firm’s master furrier, Reto Kalstas, a man with more than 45 years of experience in the trade who besides overseeing the cleaning, oiling and lustre glazing of precious furs is an expert at repairing, altering, recycling fashion pieces and converting coats into a reversible with a water-resistant shell. Tyania spends a lot of time at the warehouse, continuing to improve her knowledge of the trade, but her love of retail, enthusiasm and dedication to the fur business has already won her recognition among her peers. She is one of only two Canadians invited to attend the Fur Futures international meeting in London, England, where the ‘brightest and best’ members of the International Fur Trade Federation will brainstorm to devise strategies for upcoming initiatives.
www.benzingcharleboisfurs.com 403.229.1431 | 1005 - 2nd St. SW, Calgary