The Century Club 2016

From linen services to packaging and construction companies, and from selling furs to machine bearings, DBusiness pays tribute to companies that are 100 years old or more.


Published:

(page 3 of 5)

 

Jacob Bricker opened his first store on farmer street in detroit in 1916. it  later became bricker-tunis furs and moved to livernois and seven mile before moving to west bloomfield township.

 

Bricker-Tunis Furs

NOT RIGHT FOR BARBIE

Arthur Bricker leaned toward the television when Aretha Franklin sat down at the piano to sing during the December telecast of the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors. The Queen of Soul was wearing a fur coat. Was it from his shop?

“You know, I did work with Aretha for years,” says Bricker, owner of Bricker-Tunis Furs in West Bloomfield Township, “and that (coat) was not one of mine.”

But so many others were, and are. In addition to Franklin, Bricker has draped furs over the shoulders of the Motown music label’s elite, athletes, the gospel-singing Winans family, politicians, the actresses on the “Dallas” and “Dynasty” television shows, and even Barbie — although that one caused a stir.

The shop sold about 50 Barbie-sized mink coats with matching headbands ($240 for the set) in the mid-1990s, but it pulled the remainder of the furs designed for the statuesque blonde off its shelves when Mattel, which had no connection with the company, threatened legal action. “We would not have Barbie wear real fur,” a Mattel spokeswoman sniffed to The New York Times in 1997. “She’s a friend to animals.”

The Barbie kerfuffle was just a blip compared to some of the truly difficult periods for the business, which started life in 1916 on Farmer Street in Detroit and operated there for 45 years.

Jacob's son, arthur bricker, at age 76, continues to run the store.

Bricker’s father, Jack Bricker, the company’s founder, told him the business wasn’t that badly hurt during the Great Depression because the Fords and Fishers still came in to buy furs. Asked about how business was during the global financial crisis in 2008, Bricker says: “It wasn’t wonderful, but we’re still here.” He says the company posted $1 million-$2 million in revenue in 2015.

Bricker-Tunis also survived the 1967 Detroit riots, when the shop was located on the Avenue of Fashion, at Livernois Avenue and Seven Mile Road near the University of Detroit Mercy. Bricker explains that friends called to tip him off about the trouble brewing in the city. It wasn’t long before station wagons lined up outside the store and were stuffed with furs to be driven safely to Bricker’s home.

When asked to look forward rather than back, the 76-year-old Bricker instead ticked off the names of other Detroit fashion brick-and-mortar stores that are memories now: Hughes & Hatcher, Saks Fifth Avenue, Hudson’s, Kern’s, Crowley’s, and others. 

Bricker says he’s not sure what will happen in the future to the business he took over when he was in his early 20s, which today has seven employees. He has a son and a daughter, but neither one wants to take over. 

As Bricker reminisces in his office, which is filled with original art and memorabilia, he peers through a one-way glass into his shop on Orchard Lake Road, where he’s been for 42 years. He excuses himself abruptly as a customer arrives. For Bricker, customers always come first. 

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

30 in Their Thirties 2018

The 2018 class of 30 in Their Thirties spans the business world, including employee staffing, finance, food production, health care, insurance, real estate development, and technology.

Roll 'Em

The film industry in metro Detroit, which is very much alive despite the end of sizeable state incentives that were designed to attract top-flight actors and directors, can draw big-budget production companies like Disney and Warner Bros. by building up a creative infrastructure.

Q&A: Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas is a co-founder of Fontinalis Partners, a venture capital firm in downtown Detroit focused exclusively on investing in technology companies that improve next-generation mobility.

Line of Flight

A longer runway at Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, new golf courses and wineries, upgraded resorts, and revamped marketing campaigns are attracting more tourism in northern Michigan.

Integrating Circuits

Not since Detroit absorbed California hot-rod culture have the Motor City and the Golden State embraced each other so tight. The quest to perfect self-driving cars and find innovative mobility solutions made it happen. Is this the biggest story in American business?
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Blog: What the Insurance Industry Isn’t Telling you
    None of us expect to be involved in a major car accident — until it happens. We tell ourselves,...
  2. Medical Monopoly
    Group Purchasing Organizations are charged with saving hospitals money, but special carve-outs...
  3. Nino Salvaggio to Open Bloomfield Township Location on Dec. 28
    Nino Salvaggio International Marketplace is opening a new location on Friday, Dec. 28 in...
  4. Detroit Neighborhoods Receive $35M in Commitments for Improvements
    Detroit neighborhoods will get $35 million in commitments from seven companies, Mayor Mike Duggan...
  5. Dearborn’s Ford Motor Co. Begins First Phase of Construction at Michigan Central Station
    Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn Tuesday announced it began renovation of Michigan Central Station, the...
  6. Denso in Southfield Invests Nearly $100 Million in Startups to Advance Mobility
    Denso, which operates its North American headquarters in Southfield, says it has invested nearly...