For three generations and more than six decades, the Magder family has been a fixture on Spadina Avenue, riding the highs and lows of Toronto's fur market, battling the province for the right to do business on Sundays and surviving the gradual transformation of the garment district that once surrounded it.
But a combination of recession, taxes and a fall in the business of American tourists, driven away by the rising Canadian dollar and more stringent border regulations, has prompted the family to close up shop at the end of the month.
"It's in our blood this business, really," said 43-year-old Glen Magder from the store Wednesday.
His grandfather, Morris Magder, who immigrated from Romania as a child, worked in the neighbourhood furriers before striking out on his own in the mid-1940s. His son, Paul, joined him in his teens and later set up his own shop next door in 1959, in an old converted house where the family business still stands.
When he first started, the now 74-year-old Paul recalls, fur was primarily sought after by an older generation of customers, before returning to vogue in the late 1960s.
His own sons, Glen and Paul Jr., grew up working for him.
"The No. 1 remark we'd get from tourists was 'I can't believe how clean it is,' " Glen recalls of the neighbourhood in those days. "There was no litter, no graffiti."
As the store did brisk business, the elder Mr. Magder gained some notoriety by tussling with the province over its prohibitions on Sunday and holiday shopping. He says the standoff began when he happened to be doing some renovations in the store on a Thanksgiving Day in the late seventies and decided to open the doors to customers.
"The tourists were so happy to see we were open, because they had come to Toronto and everything was locked up," he said.
Over the next decade and a half, he was fined repeatedly, went to court and was even locked out of the store before the government finally changed the law in 1992.
In 1994, Glen and the younger Paul, 45, took over the business, with their father helping out. The popularity of vintage furs helped the store in recent years as did tourist traffic, which Glen estimates accounted for about half their business, even as the city's old garment industry faded and retailers started outsourcing manufacturing overseas.
For the last two years, however, the shop hasn't been making money, said the elder Mr. Magder. The business will move in with Elite Furs on Dundas Street West. The last day of business on Spadina will likely be Feb. 28.