It is rare that you find a private owned Fur and Leather Shop. It’s even more rare that you find one that services furs, repairs, appraisals and many more services all in one. Well that’s exactly what The Fur Centre is, plus more and John Hanlon is the owner of it.


John Hanlon has been in the fur business for 14 years and now he owns the largest private fur company in North America, but he didn’t necessarily grow up in it. When asked what his upbringing was like and how he got in the into the fur business, Hanlon says he was previously working for Ford Motor Company in Detroit, Michigan and towards the mid 2000’s, the business had gotten bad. During that same time, a college friend of his reached out to him about being an entrepreneur and getting into the fur business. At the time, he didn’t know anything about fur, but he likes to learn so he took an interest in the opportunity, especially since he’d eventually be working for himself. Another thing that sparked Hanlon’s interest was the fact that it was a private small business which means it’s easier to make decisions versus at Ford Company, it would take a longer time to reach a decision, but the company was so big.


The Fur Centre was opened in 1927 and Hanlon’s friend’s father was the owner prior to him. He was looking for someone young to operate the company and everyone in the family had different career paths they wanted to take, so Hanlon became a great candidate. The owner taught Hanlon everything he needed to know, from sales to how the coats are cleaned to how they are repaired, plus more. The business now has seven locations: Washington, D.C; Boston: Rhode Island; Canada; Dallas, Texas; Arizona, and of course it’s headquarters here in St. Louis, Mo. Hanlon says D.C is the best market for the furs because of course it’s cold there and people tend to wear them more there.


Of course, every business has its slow times, in which Hanlon said is usually July and August. Also, during the warmer season is when customers get their furs cleaned and repaired so business it’s 100% slow. He says you have to “sell and service your products,” which is what The Fur Centre does. In the process of servicing the coats, his company moisturizes the furs and that keeps them from getting dry and ripping. His company uses all-natural products, no chemicals, when it comes to moisturizing the furs. With that treatment, furs can last a long time, even 30 years from what Hanlon has seen. He says he’s seen some furs that were passed down, stating that, “I see furs that have tags on them from stores that have been closed for years like Famous Barr.”


Hanlon says he does things on a global basis when it comes to obtaining the actual furs. He says most of his products comes from mink and they are raised on high quality ranches in Russia, Scandinavia, China and others. He says fox is another common fur he gets and those are raised in Finland or Canada. Other furs he sells are coyote and racoon, which he says is a common one. He says there are over 5 million racoons in Toronto, Canada, making it the racoon capital. Hanlon says, “There is a lot of need to control the wild life population.” He says he doesn’t scout wildlife hunters but there are other companies who do so; adding that he also gets skin to make leather coats and even leather gloves with fur on them.


Even though the leather business is not as high of a demand as it was, that is still another service they provide; to sell, repair, and recreate. The Fur & Leather Centre sell leather coats with fur on it, for instance on the collar, but it has been a hard category over the past few years.

John Hanlon says he doesn’t resale furs, but he does accept trade-ins and make the furs into something different like turning a coat into a vest or making a fur into stalls, which has been a common trend lately. He says that he’s seeing younger people interested in furs within the past 10 years. Another service The Fur & Leather Centre provide is telling you the value in your fur and what kind it is. Some customers would never know the value of their fur or leather unless they go to a specialist like The Fur & Leather Centre.


John Hanlon says he like to strategize and do something each year so for this year he wants to grow his internet following and housing items. He’s looking to add fur blankets and pillows to his list of items to sell this spring, so be on the lookout!

Visit The Fur & Leather Center at 7901 Clayton Rd, Clayton, MO 63105

For more information on the business, visit the website:

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