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Furs last longer with proper care

| Thursday, March 7, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
A fur from Joseph Horne Co. in the climate-controlled storage area at Carl W. Herrmann Furs in Downtown which stores 7,000 garments. Tuesday March 5, 2013. Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
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Keith Rosenstock, owner of Canadian Fur Company, downtown, presents a fur in his climate-controlled fur storage area which is home to 4,000 furs during the warm weather. ARCHIE CARPENTER
ARCHIE CARPENTER
Keith Rosenstock, owner of Canadian Fur Company, downtown, presents a fur in his climate-controlled fur storage area which is home to 4,000 furs during the warm weather. ARCHIE CARPENTER
ARCHIE CARPENTER
Keith Rosenstock, owner of Canadian Fur Company, downtown, checks the thermostat in his climate-controlled fur storage area which is home to 4,000 furs during the warm weather. ARCHIE CARPENTER
ARCHIE CARPENTER
Keith Rosenstock, owner of Canadian Fur Company, downtown, inside his climate-controlled fur storage area which is home to 4,000 furs during the warm weather. Archie Carpenter
President Guy Herrmann in the climate controlled fur storage area at Carl W. Herrmann Furs in Downtown. Herrmann stores 7,000 garments. Tuesday March 5, 2013. Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
President Guy Herrmann in the climate-controlled fur storage area at Carl W. Herrmann Furs in Downtown. Herrmann stores 7,000 garments. Tuesday March 5, 2013. Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
President Guy Herrmann in the climate-controlled fur storage area at Carl W. Herrmann Furs in Downtown. Herrmann stores 7,000 garments. Tuesday March 5, 2013. Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Eric Felack, Valley News Dispatch
Roseanne Wholey holds a Norwegian blue fox coat that was a birthday gift almost 30 years ago. The coat is in mint condition because she has taken proper care of it. Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Eric Felack, Valley News Dispatch
Roseanne Wholey models a Zandra Rhodes fox shrug, which she bought at a consignment shop, in her Fox Chapel home that she has meticulously taken care of for years on March 3, 2013. Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
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Keith Rosenstock, owner of Canadian Fur Company, downtown, presents a fur in his climate-controlled fur storage area which is home to 4,000 furs during the warm weather. ARCHIE CARPENTER
President Guy Herrmann in the climate-controlled fur storage area at Carl W. Herrmann Furs in Downtown. Herrmann stores 7,000 garments. Tuesday March 5, 2013. Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Designer Emma White is customizing this fur coat at Roberta Weissberg Leathers in Shadyside Wednesday, March 6, 2013. Heidi Murrin Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Seamstress Emma White customizes a mink coat at Roberta Weissberg Leathers Wednesday, March 6, 2013. Heidi Murrin Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
A couple of mink coats that are being customized at Roberta Weissberg Leathers in Shadyside Wednesday, March 6, 2013. Heidi Murrin Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

As spring approaches with warmer weather, fur coats need to go into storage.

“We are getting ready to send out letters to our customers about storage at the end of March,” says Guy Herrmann, president of Carl W. Herrmann Furs, Downtown, and a board member of Fur Information Council of America.

“We have already cleaned more than 40 infested coats that were not stored in 2012.”

Furs not properly taken care of can be destroyed by moth larvae. Signs include bare spots, usually at the hemline, unusual shedding and loose clumping of hair. In most cases, Herrmann says, he is able to repair the damage.

Don't let it get to that.

Find a professional who has a storage facility with the proper temperature and low humidity. Herrmann's vault ranges from 39 to 41 degrees.

“If you control the temperature, that helps to slow down the drying out of the hide,” says Herrmann, who stores 7,000 garments. “If you take care of it, a fur will outlast how long you will like it.”

The cost to store a coat is in the $50-per-year range. Accessories are less. Most furriers store furs locally so customers have in-and-out privileges.

A fur needs proper air circulation to looks its best, says Suzanne Mauro, a stylist accredited by the Association of Image Consultants International and producer of “Style Everyday with Suz” on PCTV Pittsburgh. Always use a broad, nonwire coat hanger, she says. And avoid using air fresheners or mothballs, because they will dry out your fur and may cause damage.

Easter Monday seems to be the benchmark for when customers start thinking about fur storage, says Keith Rosenstock, owner of Canadian Fur Company, Downtown.

“They usually stop wearing furs after Easter,” he says. “And this year, we have had more instances of moth larvae than in my 25 years here.”

Rosenstock says high humidity causes dry rotting in garments. “You should store your coat,” he says. “Look at the cost to replace it. People need to take care of things of value.”

Moth larvae live in the best of homes. He says one customer skipped storing her seven coats last year and had moth damage that cost $1,742 in repairs.

Roseanne Wholey of Fox Chapel has stored furs with a company and at home. Wholey learned the proper care when she had them in her home, but intends to store them this year, especially because she doesn't wear them much, and out of respect for her husband, who is anti-fur. She has a full-length Norwegian blue fox fur coat that she received as a 30th birthday present, 29 years ago. It is in perfect condition. “If you take care of what you have, a fur will last a long time,” she says.

“It is best to keep them in a cool part of the house, not sub-level, and to cover them with a sheet and keep space in between them,” Wholey says. “It also helps to wear it, because body heat is the best way to prevent depleting the oil from the pelt.”

Ken Briskin, owner of Briskin Furs in Aspinwall, says bringing a fur to a furrier is important because he can check the item and groom it when it comes in to make sure it is cleared of any moth larvae or carpet mites.

Roberta Weissburg, owner of Roberta Weissburg Leathers in Shadyside and SouthSide Works, offers curb drop-off for fur storage. “Some manufacturers are making detachable fur trim on items like leather jackets, so you just need to store the trim,” she says.

William A. Pryor Jr., owner of Pryor Furs in the Hill District, says he wants to help customers keep their furs looking good, so he encourages them to bring in their furs. “We will do any needed repair work on them during the off-season or any restyling needed, so it will be ready to go when they want to wear it. Furs have sentimental value to people. Many have been in the family for generations.”

A fur garment well-cared for and properly stored can last 50 to 60 years, says Keith Kaplan, executive director of the Fur Information Council of America.

“Or even longer,” Kaplan says. “That is one of the benefits to fur. It is durable — and properly cared for, can last a long time. The out-of-pocket cost to store is minimal and a way to take care of your investment.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at jharrop@tribweb.com or 412-320-7889.

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