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Century-old Sudbury fur business closing its doors as owners set to retire

With mixed emotions, Marc and Claire Lafrance call it a career

After more than 100 years in business, Lafrance Furs is closing up shop and the owners are starting their well-earned retirement.

Marc Lafrance and his wife, Claire, have been operating the store since 2006, after Marc’s brother, Gerard, retired. They will shut the doors for good on March 28.

“It is with mixed emotion that after 113 years in business, Lafrance Furs will be closing, bringing an end to an enterprise proudly rooted in the North,” said Marc Lafrance. “I’m going to be 80 years old, and I figured it’s about time to take things easy, but we’ve enjoyed every moment of it.”

Established in 1908 by Adelard Lafrance, A. Lafrance & Sons Ltd. (Lafrance Furs) has always represented quality workmanship and friendly service, said Marc.

“It has been my family’s privilege to serve our wonderful clients and friends across Northern Ontario for over three generations.”

Lafrance Furs moved to Sudbury from Chapleau in 1921 and opened a store on Durham Street North. The location became the headquarters for raw fur buying, and expanded into manufacturing, retail, storage and servicing. 

In 1946, a North Bay location opened, followed by a store in Sault Ste. Marie in 1951.

Run by Adelard's four sons, Edward, Lawrence, Yvon, and Adelard Jr., the stores operated for several decades and employed hundreds of workers during that time. 

In the mid-1980s, the Sault store closed, followed by the North Bay store in 1994, when operations consolidated to the main Sudbury location. 

Lafrance Furs is now located on Lasalle Boulevard.

Marc and Claire said they have enjoyed managing the business together for many years and look forward to their upcoming retirement.

“The Lafrance family has been extremely proud to represent the industry that founded our great country by serving our clients with all of their fur needs.” said Marc. “We are equally proud of the contributions we’ve made to supporting communities in Northern Ontario for over a century. 

“Most of all, we are appreciative of the confidence and loyalty that our customers have placed in Lafrance Furs. The interaction with our customers and valued employees and the friendships we’ve shared over many years have enriched our lives.”

The COVID-19 pandemic meant Lafrance Furs has only been open for 22 weeks out of the past year, said March.

“The pandemic did play heck with us, and when you get to this age, and you can only open your store for half the year, it gets to a point where you have to look at things in reality and say, before something very serious happens, maybe health wise, it’s maybe time to close the door,” said Marc.