How Does a Guy Say No To This?

Even though the wedding date’s not set yet, you can tell that Linnea Rivard and Michael Balda’s upcoming nuptials aren’t necessarily all that traditional.

For starters, the happy couple met at an online matchmaking site. They didn’t even get to go out alone on their first date (she brought a friend along, just to be sure). And after a few short months of courtship, she proposed marriage to him.

On Stormy Kromer’s Facebook page, no less.

“We met in September, and a month later he was bugging me with ‘When are you going to ask me to marry you?’” said Linnea, a bartender in Wisconsin Rapids. “When I told his mom, she looked me in the eye and said “He loves you and wants to marry you. He’s just scared to ask.”

Not too timid to take matters into her own hands, Linnea put a plan in motion.

Michael, who’s working toward his Master’s degree in Project Management, was heading to Florida for an extended stay, but before he left, Linnea made sure his favorite Kromer cap stayed home.

“It was weird, but before my trip, she wanted to know what caps I was bringing with me,” said Michael. “I’ve got 15 or so, and I did bring a couple of the cotton ones to Florida, but I couldn’t figure out why she cared. Then I saw her Facebook post.”

Posed in her boyfriend’s best Kromer Original, Linnea popped the question “Marry me?” in a picture presented for the whole world to see. And let’s just say Michael wasn’t the first to see it.

“Some other guy beat me to it,” said Michael. “One of the posts said ‘If he says no, I’m saying yes.’ Really, though, there was only one answer for me. She was wearing my favorite cap; it was awesome. I had to say yes.”

We couldn’t be happier for the Kromer-loving couple, and we’ll keep you up to date on their wedding plans. We thought you should also know, however, that they’re not the first to be wedded with our caps.

In 1946, Bernard Kolesar (you may remember him as one of our Living Legend finalists) proposed to Zella in his Stormy Kromer. She said yes, and the rest is history.

This has to be one of the best lookin’ wedding parties we’ve ever seen.

Are there other Kromer wedding stories we need to know about?

Featured Retailer: Getz’s Department Store

Unless you’re reading this from someplace like Singapore,
you’re gonna want to get to Getz’s.

We like Getz’s. A lot. A little too much, maybe. But when you’ve got three stacked floors of department store goodness packed with people who remember how things used to be done, well, it feels to us like the kind of place Mr. Kromer himself would have owned. Except he was just a kid when it opened.

Getz’s Department Store in downtown Marquette, Michigan, hung out its shingle in 1879, and aside from selling a few brands of clothing and outdoor gear that didn’t exist back then, not much has changed. And that’s the way folks like it, according to Dennis Mingay, the man in charge of menswear.

“Remember when you were a kid,
and you’d walk into an old clothing store and
smell the richness of the wool and leather?
That’s what Getz’s is, and there aren’t many places like us left.”

The big box stores have taken over, but when you sort through the thousands and thousands—and thousands—of products on the shelves, from men’s suits and Silver Jeans for women, to outdoor wear, kids’ clothes, shoes, and—get this—7,000 square feet of Carhartt, you start to wonder how the national chains could ever compete with Getz’s.

“Here’s how we beat them,” said Mingay, who happily works six days a week and is as much a figure at Getz’s as Getz’s itself. “When people come in, we greet them, we take care of them. And when they ask for a pair of pants, we walk them over to the pants, we don’t just point.”

It’s this type of traditional service and commitment to customers that drew the attention of Stormy Kromer Mercantile owner, Bob Jacquart. Shortly after buying the SK patent, he walked into the UP’s favorite department store and straight up to Dennis Mingay.

“He said ‘I don’t know you and you don’t know me, but I just bought Stormy Kromer, and I’d like Getz’s to be a distributor.’ It took a little work, but just look at us now.”

Last year, Getz’s faithful fans (if that’s you, thank you!) purchased over 2,300 Kromer caps and articles of clothing. But it’s not the numbers that matter, it’s the nostalgia. Getz’s and Stormy Kromer are cut from the same cloth, if you will. They’re down-home brands built in rural America, and because they remember it’s the shopper who makes them successful, they’ve cultivated a global following.

So even if you are from Singapore, you might want to make a point of stopping by. Or at least visiting www.getzs.com.

Stormy Kromer in Outside Magazine

Have you seen the February issue of Outside Magazine?  One of the cover stories this month is “63 Perfect Things.”  We’re very proud to say that the Original Stormy Kromer Cap rounds out the list at number 63.

We’d like to send our thanks to the folks over at Outside Magazine for including us in such esteemed company.  Some of our other favorites on the list include:

9. No cell service
16. Snickers
22. Riding in the back of a pickup truck
36. Scraggly, asymmetrical Christmas trees
46. The U.P.
50. Grilling in the snow

The editors say their “outdoor pleasures are a mix of the good and the guilty.”  Which begs the question: What would be on your list of perfect things?

 

Announcing the 2012 Living Legend – Jim Dehlin

When we decided to honor our legendary wool cap by honoring a few living legends, we were pretty sure we’d meet some doozies. We never imagined we’d run into someone like Jim Dehlin.

According to the entry form sent in by Jim’s son, Jesse, Jim is a bona fide American hero. The U.S. Army even says so.  After losing both legs in a land-mine explosion in Vietnam, Jim managed to wrack up an impressive bucket list of accomplishments from the front-row seat of his wheelchair:

He became a pilot.
He raced dirt bikes in Spain.
He ran with the bulls.
He tried downhill skiing, got bored and tried downhill ski racing.
He learned to water ski.
He hunted caribou in Alaska.
He swam with sharks.
He served as a volunteer firefighter.
He backpacked across Europe. Twice.
He ranked nationally in wheelchair basketball.
He appeared in Poison’s “Something to Believe In” video.
He was mentioned in three books by Senators and a Four-Star General.

“It’s not the accomplishments that make my dad a living legend,” said the younger Dehlin, “it is the impact he has had on people throughout his life that make him so. Over the 42 years since his injury, he continues to inspire people to tackle life and to succeed.”

Take, for example, how he used his sense of humor to improve the morale of other patients at Valley Forge Army Hospital—while he was dealing with his own injury. Or how he worked two jobs to put himself through school (he became an aviation maintenance specialist, then an educator) and plowed snow in the winter—for free for those in need. Or how he continues to challenge life by pushing boundaries and inspiring those around him to do the same.

“I am honored to be the recipient of the inaugural Stormy Kromer Living Legend award. To be included in such an elite group of finalists has been a humbling experience. I am blessed in my life to have my family and friends who have always supported me,” said Jim Dehlin, the inaugural Living Legend Award Recipient. “I am especially thankful to my son Jesse, who honored me as his Dad by nominating me. Many thanks to Stormy Kromer and all who voted,” Dehlin added.

As part of his Living Legend status, Dehlin receives a $500 Stormy Kromer gift certificate and a donation to the charity of his choice. Three percent of Stormy Kromer sales between January 9 and January 31, 2012, will be given to Homes for Our Troops, which builds specially adapted homes for disabled veterans.

“We see ourselves as a bit of a legend up here,” said Gina Thorsen, of the company which created its iconic ear-flap cap in 1903 and dozens of hand-stitched outdoor apparel items since that time, “but when we started reviewing the entries into our Living Legends contest, we were humbled to the point of speechlessness. These are incredible people, and Jim Dehlin is truly a hero. On behalf of the Stormy Kromer name, we are honored to recognize him as our inaugural Stormy Kromer Living Legend.”

Using Your Stormy Kromer

Happy New Year everyone!

We have a feeling that there were quite a few Stormy Kromer caps under the Christmas tree this year.  So to any new members of the SK family who might be reading this blog for the first time, welcome!

Because of our potential newcomers, we thought we’d take a minute to review the use of your Stormy Kromer.  You might not need instructions to wear your new cap, but there is a right way and a wrong way.  The right way involves putting the cap on your head, grabbing the earband on both sides and pulling down.

There’s no unfolding or flipping of the flaps, and you don’t have to take the hat off to use them.  Just pull down and settle in.  They’ll stay in place without pinching.  And if you want to make a slight shift in snugness, just untie the string, adjust and retie.

Need a visual?  Check out this video clip, submitted to us by Hybrid Media last year on Facebook.

 

Happy Holidays from Stormy Kromer

It’s that time of year when folks reflect on the past 12 months and look forward to what’s to come.  For those of us here at Stormy Kromer, we’d like to take the time to simply say “thank you.”  We’ve had an amazing year, full of growth and expansion, and all fueled by you, our customers and supporters.

We have lots of exciting things planned for 2012 and we look forward to sharing them all with you.

Happy Holidays,
Your Friends at Stormy Kromer

What We’re Thankful For, by Stormy Kromer

From the slightly silly to the serious, and in no particular order, this is what we are thankful for here at Stormy Kromer this week.

Living Legend Finalists – After reading their stories, we think you’ll be thankful for people like these outstanding citizens too.  Don’t forget to vote for your favorite.

Ida Kromer – Like most men, when Stormy needed some help, he turned to his wife.  Without her, his idea may never have turned into reality.  Now she’s finally getting her due with our expanding line of women’s products.

Sheep – Heck, without them, what would we make our legendary caps out of?

Our Employees – Without the dedicated men and women who cut, sew, package and ship our gear, Stormy Kromer Mercantile would not exist.  For that, they deserve a tip of the hat.

Our Customers & Fans – We think we’ve got the best customers in the business.  You appreciate the value of Made in the USA products, you faithfully spread the word about our gear and you share the best photos, videos and stories with us.

Snow – As much as we hate to admit it, we actually love that fluffy white stuff.  The accumulation started last week, and now we’re counting down the days until there is enough for the cross country trails, ski hills, and snowmobile trails to open.  Remember, you can now keep track of the snowfall at SK headquarters on our homepage.

From our family to yours, we’d like to wish you a safe, peaceful and most importantly, warm, Thanksgiving holiday.

What are you thankful for this week?

Welcome to the Kromer Kap Kulture Klub. Well, sort of.

Although they’re a welcoming bunch of guys and there’s no secret handshake or anything, this isn’t a club—excuse me, klub—you can join. You see, you’ve got to be part of the Opatik family (or a very close friend) and you’ve got to be a Stormy Kromer fanatic.

Frank Opatik is both. His first Kromer Original Wool Cap was handed down to him by his father in 1960. (“I was the oldest, so I was first in line,” he said.) It’s the black one, he still wears it, and it’s still in its original shape. His son, Steve, wears his maternal grandfather’s cap, also black, and also over 50 years old. Visitors to the cabin wear red.

The caps are well preserved and worn with pride every year at the family’s hunting compound, a no-power, no-plumbing log cabin north of Gleason, Wisconsin, that Frank built in 1978 after being inspired—literally—by the label on Log Cabin syrup.

The cabin is where the idea for the Kulture Klub was first formed.

“Well, we were all up there at deer camp one year sitting under the gas lamps and playing cards. We were wearing our Kromers, and we realized we were part of a pretty special club,” said Frank, a retired engineer and marketing executive. “We decided to call it the Kromer Kap Kulture Klub because there’s a quite a bit of culture up there,” he added with a  laugh.

Original members of the Klub include Frank and his son, Steve; Frank’s brother-in-law, Gary Martin; Gary’s son, Bryan; and Frank’s brother, John, who’s since passed away.

Membership has now swelled to seven, and each inductee holds a official Certificate of Membership, plus honorary, non-voting stock in—yes—Kromer Kap Kulture Klub, LLC. Or is that LLK?

“My wife, Joyce, and I created the LLC as part of our estate plan, leaving the land and cabin to our kids,” added Frank. “And the ‘K’ thing? Well, that just sort of came naturally.”

Naturally. Like “bakon” on the camp menu, which also states “This menu was prepared on a Kromer Komputer, and we use a Kromer Spellchecker.”

Frank is fiercely proud of his caps (he has three, including a specially designed 25th Anniversary cap for the Klub) and of the authentic, down-to-earth culture that’s developed at the cabin.

“Our motto is: ‘Where the work ends and the fun begins.’”

And when you see them bringing in their trophy bucks or watching a Packers game (it’s the only thing they use the generator for because they don’t want to “get too civilized”), you’ll know that’s the kind of kulture you want to be part of.

Do you have any Stormy Kromer traditions that you’d like to share?

Stormy Kromer featured in Country Living Magazine!

Over a year ago, we received a call from Country Living Magazine.  We had several discussions with them about the history of our brand and where we are today.  We had hoped they would publish an article last year, and we were pleasantly surprised when they contacted us again this summer.  After a series of phone calls and emails discussing interesting dates in the history of our iconic brand, we were so excited to see this article in the November issue of the magazine, which is on newsstands now.  With the Original Cap in Green/Black Plaid, we are proud to be their latest Made in America feature.

Thanks Country Living!