Fur-ever love: High school sweethearts, luxury business still going strong

0

Ann and Kevin Day are celebrating the 35th anniversary of Day Furs, which has been in Carmel for 33 years. (Photo by Theresa Skutt)

Ann and Kevin Day are celebrating the 35th anniversary of Day Furs, which has been in Carmel for 33 years. (Photo by Theresa Skutt)

By Mark Ambrogi

Kevin and Ann Day’s romance began as 4-H Club members as juniors in high school.

“We showed beef cattle and pigs against each other, that’s how we met,” Ann said.

The Days’ love affair with the fur business is not quite as long, but close. The couple, who lives in Westfield, have been married 36 years, and Day Furs is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. It started in Bloomington but two years later moved to Carmel. For its first five years the store was at 126th Street and Range Line Road, and has been at 1361 S. Range Line Road for the past 28 years.

“We’re passionate about our product, but we’re also passionate about our people, whether it’s our customers or employees, too,” Ann said.

Joyce Irwin of Indianapolis has been a customer for 25 years.

“Day Furs is much more than a fur and outerwear store,” Irwin said. “They have unique cashmere wraps and unique leather and suede items that can be customized for your own personal unique style. At Day you are more than a customer. You are family. They listen and match to your individual style. I always know that Day Furs will have an incredible scarf, accessory to make the perfect outfit. I love it because they know my style and know what I like.”

Ann, a 1976 alumnae of Carmel High School, graduated from Purdue after studying fashion retailing and retail management. Kevin worked for a retail fur business in Indianapolis after graduating from Westfield High School in 1976.

“I worked three years and then moved to Bloomington to work for a publishing company,” Kevin said.

They decided to open a small fur store while Kevin continued working at the publishing job. When they first moved the store to Carmel, Kevin worked for an advertising agency.

“We stock very fashion-forward inventory,” Kevin said. “We sell more than just furs. We sell leather and accessories.”

Ann said those accessories include gloves, scarves, ear muffs, handbags, jewelry and headbands.

“Some of our Bloomington customers have been with us for the whole time,” Ann said.

Approximately 20 percent of their business is restyling furs.

“With the smaller stores we originally had we didn’t have space for all the accessories and leather we do now,” Ann said.

There is a call center on the second floor, where employees call previous customers to check on their needs. The Days have sold furs to customers in Great Britain, Russia, New Zealand, Australia and France.

They started Estate Furs, which purchases furs from estates to re-sell, 12 years ago.

Day Furs has two employees who work on restyling and alterations.

“Nine times out of 10, things we sell we have to do some kind of alteration or monogram or customizing,” Ann said. “We take pride in that. We feel it’s important that the coat is perfect when it leaves here.”

Ann said dressing up is a little more back in style since the Center for the Performing Arts opened in Carmel in 2011.

“We are seeing a bit of resurgence of dressing up again, and we’re selling a lot of evening wraps and stoles for capes for evening ware that years ago we didn’t really sell,” Ann said.

Mink is the No. 1 seller, but there eight to 10 different types of fur sold at the store.

“You can do a lot with mink. It can be dyed,” Ann said.

Cameron, 24, their youngest of two sons, graduated from Purdue in 2014 with a degree in organizational leadership from the College of Technology. Cameron, who had interned at his parents’ store during college, worked for Angie’s List for several months after graduating before deciding he wanted to join the family business two years ago.

“I do all the online inventory and all the road shows in the spring and fall,” Cameron said.

Ann said Cameron brings youth and supplies fresh ideas.

The Days also own a fur store, Bella Furs, in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Cameron, who lives in Carmel, helps with the website and services the satellite operations in Louisville, South Bend, Toledo, Ohio and Madison, Wis. The Days use hotel conference rooms a few times a year in each city for sales and service.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve and grow the business,” Kevin said.

Meet the Days

Family: The Days’ oldest son, Nathan, 30, runs his own business, selling used livestock equipment. He lives in Westfield and is married to Renee. Cameron and Nathan graduated from Westfield High School.

Most expensive item sold: Six figures, but the Days didn’t want to name the actual figure. Sable furs are the most expensive furs.

Celebrity customers:  Florence Henderson and Jim Nabors. “We’ve had racecar drivers’ wives and some local pro athletes (from the Colts and Pacers),” said Kevin, not wanting to name specific athletes.

Most unusual requests: “We made a fur bunting for a baby and then later made it into a vest for a little girl,” Ann said. “We took a customer’s coat and made fur coats for their five granddaughters’ American Girl dolls. We made them like miniature mink coats for the dolls and monogramed them with the little girl’s name on each.”

For more: Visit dayfurs.com and estatefurs.com

Share.