The first day of spring (theoretically)

According to my calendar, it’s the first day of spring.

According to this photo, it is not.

This photo was taken just minutes ago looking out one of the windows in our breakroom. That’s snow you see, built up and blocking most of the window.  To be fair, some of it is from drifts and some may be from the last time we shoveled the roof, but nevertheless, there is that much snow piled up on the side of our building.  On March 20.

Here’s a few more photos I snapped this afternoon:

When you live in an area called Big Snow Country and work for a company like Stormy Kromer, you end up having very mixed feelings about snow in March.

  • Positive:  People still need to buy warm winter clothing this late in the season, which is great for sales!
  • Negative:  At this point, we’re all kind of sick of wearing our warm winter clothing. Except our Kromers, of course (we’re never sick of them), but we would be okay with switching to a lighter version, such as the Waxed Cotton or Field Cap.  We’re definitely ready to put the Ranchers away for a few months.
  • Positive: We can still participate in fun, cold-weather activities such as downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing and snowmobiling.
  • Negative:  We still have to participate in not-so-fun cold-weather activities such as shoveling and plowing.
  • Positive: When the sun shines and sparkles on the white snow, it’s like living in a snow globe.  It’s beautiful.
  • Negative:  When the sun does make it’s way out from behind the near-constant cloud cover, it’s shining on the March variety of snow – the dirty, muddy variety.

All kidding aside, we do love winter.  We wouldn’t be who we are without it.  And so, with the official first day of spring, at least theoretically we bid a fond farewell to our favorite season.

So, what do you think about this year’s lingering winter?

American Made Gift Ideas from Stormy Kromer Employees

Recently we asked our employees for ideas of their favorite American made products (other than Stormy Kromer, that is!).  With their input, we’ve put together a little gift guide for you to inspire your holiday shopping this season.

Sock Monkey Kit
We’ll start with some fellow Midwestern companies.  Fox River Socks, located in Osage, IA, offers a full range of warm, comfortable, functional and fun socks for all your outdoor activities.  They’ve been manufacturing these fine foot covers in the Midwest since 1900.  In addition, they are the manufacturer of the Original Rockford Red Heel Monkey Sock.  They even offer a sock monkey kit!  At just $28, the kit includes everything you need to make one sock monkey.  A great project for crafters and their family!

 

 

Duluth Pack
Over in Duluth, MN, Duluth Pack has been making rugged and functional outdoor packs since 1882.  Like Stormy Kromer caps, these packs are built to last and guaranteed for life.  While you can’t go wrong with an Original Duluth Pack, we also love that they have added a modern twist to their traditional packs, like this Scout Pack complete with laptop sleeve.

 

 

 

Burt's Bees Essentials Set
Did you know Burt’s Bees products are made in the USA?  KJ, one of our Division Managers suggested them, and on their website it states: Over 95% of our products are made right in our own manufacturing plant in Durham, NC. The rest are made by other respectable American manufacturers.  They offer a wide variety of gift sets for men, women and babies too, all at a wide range of price points.

 

Weber Q 100 Grill
What better endorsement could you ask for than this?  “I have one of these, and it’s awesome,” says Jeremy from our IT department.  The Weber Q 100 portable grill packs 8,500 BTUs in a compact grill that is perfect for your next tailgate or picnic.  And of course, it’s made in the USA.

 

Classic Chapstick
And last but not least, “America’s Favorite Lip Balm”, Chapstick, is also made in the USA.  Available virtually everywhere, it makes a great last-minute stocking stuffer.  We’ve got a few employees who swear by it up here in the cold and dry Upper Peninsula winters.

 

 

 

 

So – what would YOU add to our American made gift guide?

 

As Seen in Esquire: American Made

For anyone who may have missed it, Stormy Kromer was included in Esquire Magazine’s list of “Great American Things” in their December 2012 issue.  Number 17 on the list was the Stormy Kromer Night-Timer.

The full list of “Great American Things” can be seen at the Made Collection’s website – where you can also shop!  Please consider supporting American manufacturers this holiday season, and the Made/Esquire Shop is a great place to do so!

What are you buying American this holiday season?

Bill Murray in a Stormy Kromer?

Yes, you read it right.  The quirky actor was spotted on the golf links sporting a charcoal Original Stormy Kromer Cap.  His presence at the Irish Open Pro-Am garnered a lot of media attention, including an interview by BBC News in which he is wearing his cap the entire time.  Several celebrity sites have also posted photos – this photo gallery is a particularly good one.

Welcome to the Stormy Kromer family Bill!

 

Hat’s off to our Dads

Earlier this week, we asked our employees to share with us some bit of advice they got from their dads.  In turn, we thought we’d share these words of wisdom with you.  From the practical to the silly, they are a great reminder for us to say thanks to our dads this weekend for all they do for us.

Enjoy!

“The day before I got married my Dad pulled me aside and said, ‘Before you go I need to teach you a couple of things: 1) how to change a flat tire because every girl needs to know how to change a tire and 2) how to make a batch of homemade spaghetti sauce because the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach! ‘”
-Kirsten, Customer Service

“My dad, the founder of Jacquart Fabric Products once told me, ‘Once you start working 12 hours a day, your luck will change.’”
-Bob, CEO

“My dad always told me while in the car and a deer crosses, ‘When there’s one, there’s two.’  I frequently find myself repeating him now when I see a deer, and of course once the second deer crosses, I feel that it’s “okay” to continue.  (Until that third one runs across one day!)”
-Katie, Customer Service

“Always have a firm handshake.”
-KJ, Key Accounts

“My dad was a man of very few words and I learned from him over the years by simply watching what he would do rather than what he would say.  He treated everyone with respect, therefore, he was respected.  He was indeed a legendary dad.”
-Joel, Sales Manager

We’d love to know what you’ve learned from your father in the comments below.  In the meantime, Happy Father’s Day to all the great dads out there!

Featured Retailer: Duluth Pack

If you’ve never heard of Duluth Pack, it’s okay.
You’ve probably just never been outside.

If you’re not the type to venture beyond the wilds of your own backyard, it’s all right. The Duluth Pack Store can outfit you with every bit of gear you need to take on places like the Boundary Waters.

Or, shoot, you can just sit in the store and feel outdoorsy enough.

Named after its Duluth Pack, a cavernous canvas and leather camping satchel patented in 1882 and stitched in the same Duluth (MN) factory for 101 years, the store caters to hikers and campers who want the gear that will keep them alive out in the wilderness plus allow them to look good when the forest rangers finally find their bodies.

We’re kidding, of course, but Duluth Pack gear has been a symbol of north woods ruggedness as long as the north woods have been a symbol of outdoor adventure.

But let’s say you’ve never stepped further outside than Central Park. That’s okay, too. The Duluth Pack Store is now selling to places like Barney’s of New York.

“It’s weird, but we’re hip,” said Laura Duenow, Apparel and Footwear Buyer for the Duluth Pack Store. “We’ve been selling a very traditional product for a very long time, but because we’ve been able to blend modern style with traditional function, we’ve got this cool, Americana following.”

Just like, she says, Stormy Kromer.

“We’ve always carried Kromer caps,” added Duenow, “but the outdoor customer is more savvy than ever, and Stormy Kromer adapted and expanded its apparel line to fit them. When we saw that, we knew we had to sell it.”

And last year, they were the world’s second-largest seller of Kromer goods.

“We offer our customers an experience they can’t get in the big-box franchises,” added Duenow. “It’s a destination, not just an outdoor store.”

She couldn’t be more right. Duluth Pack sits in Duluth’s famous Canal Park district, which welcomes 3.5 million out-of-town visitors each year—many of whom stop at the store as a starting point for their wilderness vacation.

“We give them fashion-forward function, and Stormy Kromer understands what that’s all about. Those are the kind of brands our customers want.”

You just have to go out and get them. Or at least visit www.duluthpack.com.

Featured Retailer: Yoder Department Store

If you can’t find it at Yoder’s, there’s a pretty good chance you don’t need it.

The U.S. Census Bureau lists the population of Shipshewana, Indiana, at 658, which is roughly the same number of people who’ll be in line in front of you, waiting to get into the Yoder Department Store parking lot. Yep. People who need stuff, get stuff here.

“It’s not uncommon in the summer for folks to wait ten, maybe fifteen minutes to park their car,” said Andre Yoder, the third-generation general manager of this little town’s massive mercantile. “The flee market and auction across the street can draw up to 10,000 people in a two-day stretch, and a lot of them stop by because they know what we have to offer.”

What Yoder’s has to offer isn’t so much a step back in time—you’ll find all the latest clothing styles mixed in with tons of traditional favorites—it’s just that the style of service customers enjoyed decades ago is still thriving here.

Take, for example, the fact that second-generation owner Janet Yoder started working at the store when she was 13 and just recently retired at the age of 77. Many of the current employees, too, have been working here for more than 10, 20 or even 30 years. These are people who know how to treat a customer.

And if, for some reason, you want eight pairs of jeans with a 66-inch waist and they only have five (they really do have this size, by the way, and they have that many in stock), they’ll get them for you. Pronto.

That’s service you don’t see all that often.

“People come here to be taken care of and because they’ll find quality products at fair prices,” added Yoder. “Those are the same reasons we carry Stormy Kromer: great apparel, good prices, made in America. Those things matter here.”

As if to prove the point, Yoder’s menswear/work apparel manager, Tim Hethcote, recalled the story of a fellow who stopped in to get his son-in-law a gift. “He bought a couple Stormy Kromer flannel shirts, took them home, gave into temptation, tried them on, and kept them,” said Hethcote. “He eventually bought his son-in-law something else.”

No doubt he found it at Yoder’s.

A Stormy Kromer Send-Off

Last fall, we were contacted by the Detroit Skating Club.  We were somewhat ashamed that we didn’t realize such an illustrious group was here in the fine state of Michigan, and we sure are glad they reached out to us.

You see, the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Hills is the training home to some of the most elite figure skaters in the world.  We’re talking Olympians, National and World Champions – names like Todd Eldredge, Tara Lipinski and Alissa Czisny.

Jerod Swallow, Managing Director of the club let us know that each January they send the skaters off into the world to compete in a series of events, culminating in the World Championships.  As a part of their send-off, they like to give them a little something to remind them of Detroit Skating Club.  Of Michigan.

Naturally, he thought of Stormy Kromer.

We thought these fine folks deserved something a little special, so we put together some special edition caps in the Club’s colors.

The skaters just returned from their travels and finally had a few moments for a photo shoot in their caps.  Turns out the club members fared quite well at the World Championships:  French couple Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat received a bronze medal in ice dance, Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje placed fourth in ice dance, Italian Valentina Marchei placed eighth in the women’s event, and American Jeremy Abbott placed eighth in the men’s event.

Congratulations and hats off to a job well done everybody!