Dittrich Furs: 120 Years Of Quality And Service

Since 1893, the name Dittrich has been interwoven into the historic fabric of Detroit. While other iconic names such as Ford (Henry), Chrysler (Walter P.) and Packard (William) helped to transform Detroit into the city that put the world on wheels, Emil Dittrich, a furrier from London, was a pioneer in putting pelts/furs on Detroiters and others, many of whom came from hundreds of miles away.
To be historically correct, long before Detroit was the Motor City, it was fur city and represented a major trading post, even before the city was officially incorporated in 1701. “The reason that Detroit is here is because of the fur industry,” said Jason Dittrich, a Dittrich Furs executive and fifth generation member of the family. “People came from all over the Midwest for the furs in Detroit. That’s where the fur industry’s Trapper’s Alley came from many years ago.”
Today, Dittrich Furs is still owned and operated by a proud family that has served Detroiters with the finest in furs for 120 years. Located on Third Avenue and West Grand Boulevard in the city’s Midtown area, Dittrich Furs has catered to a loyal customer base and remains committed to staying within Detroit city limits. “We have always wanted to stay in Detroit, even though we could have moved elsewhere,” said Harold Dittrich, Dittrich Furs CEO and fourth generation member of the family. “We are committed to staying because this is our home and we love Detroit.”
Dittrich Furs, which also has a sales outlet in Bloomfield Hills, keeps its corporate headquarters in the Motor City, which offers all the major furrier functions, which include sales, financing, cold storage, cleaning, insurance, repairs, alterations and remodels. While the company has maintained deep city roots, Harold Dittrich admits that sometimes it’s been rough. “When you talk about more than a million people leaving the city and southeastern Michigan, it impacts all industries, not just the fur industry,” he said. “And with the economy the way it is, people just don’t have the disposable income they once had.”
Even with the advent of e-commerce, Dittrich said that such an online presence, in terms of sales, is not viable. “We have a big website, but we don’t sell furs online,” he said. “This is a business where customers have to feel the silkiness and softness of the furs. It’s not just about looking at a picture online because customers can’t see the pelts and the fine workmanship involved.”
When asked to reveal the secrets to the company’s longevity, Jason Dittrich smiled and said, “We have been around for a long time because of two simple reasons. We treat people right and we are honest with them. Unfortunately, a lot of businesses just don’t get those two simple facts.”
He said there has always been a love affair between the Dittrich family and Detroit. He recalled several years ago when someone tried to break into the Midtown facility by driving a truck through the wall. The family was moved by the concern of the community after the incident, which made national news. “People from the local community, some of whom were not even customers, just stopped by to tell us how sorry they were to hear of the incident,” he said. “They were so supportive and sympathetic. This community has always been great to us, absolutely incredible.”
Over the years, Dittrich Furs has employed many Detroiters, some of whom have been with the company for more than 30 years.
“Our average employee retention rate is much higher than the national average,” said Jason Dittrich. “We really care about our employees. They are good people and they really care about our customers.”
“The people in Detroit are wonderful,” Harold Dittrich said. “I’ve always had great memories and a lot of respect for the people here. The city has been hit very hard, but I have always thought of Detroit as being a powerhouse, one of the top five cities in the country.”
As Detroit now goes through its major period of transition, life in the Motor City will be much different with the changes on tap. But the city will come back with Dittrich Furs and the Dittrich family. With Jason and his brother, Shawn, representing the fifth generation of family ownership and management, will there be a sixth generation?
“I have two young daughters, one of whom wants to be a scientist,” Jason Dittrich said with a laugh. “My brother has two young sons, so we will see. You never know.”

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