Eilers Furs opens its doors in 1927
Eilers Furs was established in 1927 by William Eilers, an immigrant from Germany. It began as a small retail store in Huron, South Dakota where Mr. Eilers handled the advertising and sales part of the business while his wife did the sewing, and within 12 years, Eilers Furs became the largest furrier salon in South Dakota. With continuous improvements and a workforce of 25 employees, Eilers Furs accomplished what most people in the business thought nearly impossible as the customers spanned across the country from New York to the West Coast.
Like Father, Like Son
The Eilers family consisted of William, his wife, and two sons - Clint and William (Bill) Eilers. Bill graduated from the University of South Dakota and moved to Paris where he was involved with a newspaper company. Within a short time frame, he broke into the Paris fashion circle working with top designers on public relations and advertising. When the Korean war broke out, Bill felt the call to join the military and was able to serve his time in Paris as a general's aide. When he finished, he rejoined his father in the family business where he eventually inherited it after his father passed away.
Eilers Furs expands
When Bill acquired the business, he sensed that there was an opportunity for change and expansion. In 1955, Bill moved the business to Rapid City and built the business with the same tenacity as his father. When the success of Eilers Furs became evident, he once again expanded. In 1975 he opened a salon in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and later in Billings Montana where he leased space at the Billings Hart-Albin department store. As he began to see the benefits of expanding, he reached out to the Bon Marche chain and added a main store in Seattle and smaller stores at Northgate, Tacoma, Everett, Bellingham, Yakima, and Columbia Center. Bill would eventually open a store in Eugene, Oregon as well.
Bill EILERS ahead of his time
There is a saying, 'right time - right place', and Bill Eilers took advantage of every opportunity when there was a chance. Eventually the Bon Marche lease concluded and the the Billings department store closed due to a fire, leaving Bill with fewer stores to manage. However, what some may say was a downturn in his business, Bill proved otherwise. With an increase in demand for popular designer furs, Bill began using computer technology in 1985 to manage and deliver inventory more efficiently. With fewer stores to support, Bill was able to improve the quality of services and merchandise while meeting the needs of his guests. With competition heating up, Bill once again managed to adjust his business and continued to see his business prosper.
The Passing of the Torch
In 1980 Bill hired a young lady named Gail to work the sales floor in Rapid City, and she later moved to Billings, Montana to manage that store. Filled with ambition and a dream, Gail eventually opened and managed her own store with her husband, Leonard Iwinski, for 15 years in Marquette, Mi. Seeing how successful Gail and Leonard had become with their store, Bill manage to convince the couple to rejoin Eilers Furs, and in 1999 the two agreed to take over and operate the Sioux Falls location.
In 2003, Bill Eilers passed away. The Rapid City location closed shortly afterward leaving the Sioux Falls store as the main service to all of South Dakota. Since then Eilers Furs has shown growth every year due to the same superior services that has been passed on over the last 80 years.