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In shopping around for a place to sell your pelts, be aware that you have several options. You can sell to local buyers, traveling buyers, mail buyers, or auction buyers.

Local buyers are knowledgeable and convenient, but their price may be lower.

  • Knowledge. Local buyers will know the most about local furbearers. They may be able to give you tips on fur handling or show you good techniques for preparing your pelts. Most are happy to share their knowledge, which helps to ensure they receive high-quality pelts.
  • Convenience. Local buyers may be willing to buy whole animals or "green" pelts. Green pelts are skinned but are not fleshed, stretched, and dried. This can be an advantage if you don't have a good place to process fur. If you sell whole animals, be aware that carcasses spoil quickly. Sell whole animals daily if the outside temperature is above 40° Fahrenheit. Sell every two to three days if the temperature is below 40 degrees.
  • Price. Local buyers might not give you as high a price as other types of buyers. In addition, if you sell whole animals or green pelts, you will get a lower price than you would for skinned furs.

Traveling buyers also are convenient. As with local buyers, the price may be lower.

  • Convenience. Selling to a traveling buyer can be very convenient. You might be able to make an appointment for the buyer to visit you. Alternatively, you often can meet with traveling buyers when they visit local sporting goods stores on scheduled dates.
  • Price. Because traveling buyers work for large companies, they may give you a better price than local buyers. On the other hand, they might give a lower price than you could get by selling through the mail or at auction.

Mail buyers advertise in trapping magazines. Selling by mail is convenient, but be wary of the price.

  • Convenience. Selling by mail saves you the time and cost of driving to a buyer. Mail buyers usually pay within a few days. They may give you a period of time to decide if you like the offering price. If not, they will mail your pelts back.
  • Price. Mail buyers do not charge a commission. Some may pay the shipping costs. However, their advertised price lists may be misleading. Prices can change. The buyer may give you top dollar for only some of your pelts. You may be able to get a better price by going to an auction or by shopping around with local buyers.

Fur Auctions

Consider convenience and pricing when deciding whether to attend a fur auction.

  • Convenience. Depending on the location of the auction, this way may be less convenient than the other three options.
  • Price. If there are many buyers at an auction, you are likely to get a good price for your pelts. On the other hand, if you wait for an auction to sell your pelts, the market price for fur may drop. You also pay a commission when you sell at an auction, and this will decrease the money you receive.

The Fur Industry

After you sell your fur to a buyer, the pelts are resold several times.

  • The buyer sells the fur to a broker. The broker then separates the pelts into large lots according to species, size, and condition.
  • The broker sells the lots to a clothing company. This company makes the fur into garments.

Each time your pelts are resold, the seller must make a profit.

  • If you handle a pelt poorly, it will command a low price at every sale. You won't get top dollar from a dealer, because the dealer won't be able to get top dollar from the broker, and so on.
  • In other words, if you expect top dollar for your pelts, you must handle them correctly, from the trapline to the sale.