For a lot of new businesses, knocking down a wall to expand into the space next door is part of the plan. But for Kluger Furs in Flossmoor, expansion also meant building a new vault, increasing electronic security, adding metal window coverings and making room for a designer to restyle fur coats, among other changes.
Owners Larry and Sue Kluger, committed to staying at their location at 3303 Vollmer Road in Flossmoor Commons, are adding 2,400 square feet. For the past few months, the Klugers have supervised a major construction project as crews took down walls and connected their store with the space next door, previously used as an office suite.
The store remains open during the renovations, which will be finished next month. The Klugers will host an open house this fall.
A narrow space just to the west of the original store — used in recent years as a Kluger outlet — is also being renovated. When all the work is completed the store will be twice its original size.
“Every aspect of the business needed to be expanded,” Sue Kluger said. “That way we could take better care of our customers.”
During a recent tour of the renovated space, the Klugers explained new features of their business that were added with the customer in mind.
Two back rooms will be used for consultations with customers about financing or other aspects of their purchase. A work space for alterations has been expanded. So has an area for cleaning coats. There is a bigger men’s department. The front counter is twice its previous size. New lighting and flooring also were added.
Expanded security measures are an important part of the renovation project. Bollards — concrete posts with a stone-like appearance — were added outside the front of the store to prevent vehicles from crashing into the building. A new video system has 36 cameras trained on the inside and outside of the store. The metal doors can be pulled down to protect the front of the building.
“Our security has to be as good as what’s at a bank,” Larry said. “We need all the latest security, largely for insurance reasons.”
Kluger Furs first opened in Flossmoor Commons after years of doing business from the family home on Argyle Avenue in Homewood. Larry says the home business started in the late 1950s. His parents, Rudi and Ruth, immigrated to the United States in 1948. Rudi Kluger also worked at Himmel Furs in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood.
As Jews in Europe before World War II, they were persecuted by the Nazis, Rudi in Vienna and Ruth in Munich. Rudi was trained in Vienna to be a master furrier. Before the start of the war, they were able to escape to England, where they met during the Blitzkrieg, Germany’s bombing campaign during the Battle of Britain. Rudi worked on a farm, Ruth as a housekeeper and later a seamstress.
On Argyle Avenue, they had a showroom and work space. For years, they dealt directly with customers in their home. Kluger Furs moved to its Flossmoor Commons location in 1989.
Larry and Sue live in Homewood. They both attended Homewood-Flossmoor High School and so did their children. Their son Jordy is now working at the family business.
With a thriving business, the Klugers knew they would have to expand operations. But they never considered moving their store to another community.
“The point was to stay in the community that we have supported, and that has supported us, for more than 50 years,” Sue said.
Now that the expansion is nearly complete, the Klugers are looking forward to conducting classes in the store. For years to come, they’d like to mentor young people who wish to learn the fur trade.