Bob visits the Kromer Kap Kulture Klub

Some of our loyal blog readers may remember a post from a few years ago when we introduced you to the Kromer Kap Kulture Klub.  Well, we’re happy to say that this year, our CEO, Bob Jacquart, joined them for a meal.

A brief refresher: The Klub is a group of men who gather each year at a no-power, no-plumbing log cabin north of Gleason, Wisconsin for deer season.  All Klub members, of course, wear a Kromer.  Members receive an official Certificate of Membership, plus honorary, non-voting stock in Kromer Kap Kulture Klub, LLC.

Bob had promised the Klub that one day he would bring pasties to the cabin for dinner. This November on a -6 degree night, he did just that, and took some great pictures that we would like to share. The first photo shows Bob (center) with two members of the Klub.

This next photo shows the full Kromer Kap Kulture Klub.  Notice the one young man on the left, the only one with a red cap?  That indicates he’s a Klub rookie – next year, he’ll be allowed to wear a black cap and the red one will be saved for the next rookie.

Bob brought pasties as promised, and brownies for dessert.  Since there is no oven in the cabin, Bob had to bring them preheated.

Also revealed that night was new plaque that would be set into the sidewalk come
springtime, commemorating the 30 year anniversary of the Kromer Kap Kulture Klub.  The plaque was a surprise to everyone except the man who made it that night.

We love to hear stories of fans who truly embrace the Kromer legend, and who even make it a part of their family and community traditions.

Do you have any Stormy Kromer traditions to share?

Naming Plaids for Fall 2014

Well, Stormy Kromer fans, it’s time for another edition of naming plaids.  These posts always garner so many great responses and we love hearing your creative ideas.

So without further ado, let’s get right down to business.  As usual, we’re just showing the plaids but not revealing which products they will be used in.

You can see that these two are the same basic pattern, just in different colorways.  One with a light charcoal base, one with olive.

This one stands on its own.  Green background with pinks, purples and teals.

Well, what do you think?  Let the creativity begin!!

A father, a daughter, a Kromer: it’s a little bit more than a Father’s Day gift.

When other kids had to go to Disney World, a young Amanda Dinkel got to go to the U.P.

She grew up in Gladwin, Michigan, smack in the middle of the lower peninsula, with two older brothers and parents who loved the outdoors. Her father, Larry, who spent his days as an engineer, spent his life as a hunter and fisherman, and he often brought his kids out onto Superior or Huron for hours on end.

“We loved the outdoors, too, but he’d drag us on that boat, and we thought it was torture,” said Amanda, a middle-school reading teacher in Caro, Michigan, just an hour or so from her hometown. “We’d tell him ‘No, don’t take us. We’re gonna die!’”

Long days on a boat can be tough for any kid, but after her college graduation, Amanda set a goal for herself: to learn something her dad really loves and to have him teach her.

“I’m a girly-girl, but I wanted to connect with my dad. Fishing and hunting was a way to do that.”

It was on one of those trips—a venture to Larry’s favorite bear-hunting hideaway near the Keweenaw—when Amanda and her dad really found something to bond them.

“We stopped in Brevort for some smoked fish, and they had a whole selection of Kromer caps,” added Amanda. “I squealed! I’d been following Stormy Kromer on Facebook for a couple years, but this was the first I’d seen them. I was so excited. I got myself a Petal Pusher, hopped back in the car, and my dad said ‘Well, what did you get?’

“Naturally, being from Michigan, being an outdoorsman, he knew everything about Stormy Kromer—the caps, the gear, the history. There isn’t always a lot to talk about on that eight-hour stretch of road, but we now had Stormy Kromer in common. He just kept saying they were so cool.”

It wasn’t too long after that when Amanda ordered her father an Original in charcoal wool.

“My father is pretty simple in his wants and needs, so he isn’t always easy to shop for. But now there’s no question what to get him,” added Amanda. “I want to thank the people at Stormy Kromer for giving me an opportunity to bond with my dad. Kromer is our connection, and it’s authentic, through and through.”

Authentic. Just like Amanda and her dad.

Do you have a great Kromer Dad story to share??

Living Legend Wrap-Up

Well, the month of January is over, and so officially is this year’s Living Legend program.  Once again, you were extremely generous with your support of the program through your January shopping, and we will be sending our donation check off to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital next week.

Living Legend
The staff here at Stormy Kromer has really enjoyed getting to know Laura Mae Beaubien.  So did Leslie Pugmire Hole, reporter at the Redmond Spokesman, a central Oregon newspaper.  Her interview with Laura and family resulted in a few wonderful quotes that we’d like to share.

Leslie quotes Laura’s son Bob, who first considered nominating his father Harold.

“I started thinking about what had made my Dad strong and I realized it was my mother.  She was always in his corner, she went to bat for him all the time.  A 60-year marriage?  People just don’t do that anymore.”

Laura continues to be humbled, and even a bit embarrassed about all the attention she’s received as our Living Legend, but still hopes her story is inspiring, even though (as she told us when she won), she didn’t win a war or anything.

“Families need to know there are good, one-day-at-a-time people still out there”, Laura said.

Yes, we sure do.  And thanks Laura, for the legendary reminder.

Bob and Stormy Kromer’s Baseball Bat

Stormy Kromer Bat
A few months ago, Bob got an odd voicemail message.  The caller stated that he had a ‘ceremonial’ baseball bat that had belonged to George Kromer and was wondering if anyone here at the company had an interest in it.

Indeed we did.

As it turns out, the bat was a part of George’s estate that had wound up with his estate attorney’s family.  After some negotiations involving Stormy Kromer apparel, the bat has found its way here to SK Headquarters.

The bat, a Louisville Slugger, has an inscription that reads:
TESTIMONIAL DINNER, GEO. STORMY KROMER, NOVEMBER 5, 1954.

Stormy Kromer Bat
You can see the bat on display here at Stormy Kromer when you come for one of our free factory tours – offered Monday through Friday at 1:30 pm.

Featured Stormy Kromer Retailer: Alice’s Wonderland

Stormy Kromer Dealer Alice's Wonderland

We’re about as far from the mall as you can get.

You don’t have to be an outdoorsy person to shop at Alice’s Wonderland, but you do have to travel through a good deal of rural Pennsylvania countryside to get there. And when you’ve gone far enough to think you’ve gone too far, keep driving. You’re almost there.

You see, when you look at it the way the Karpiak family does (these are the fine folks who’ve run Alice’s for four generations now), you have to ask yourself: Where else would you put an outdoor store? In town?

The Karpiaks have a keen sense for what (and where) their store should be. Take Grandpa Paul, for example. When he bought the place in 1940 and named it after his wife, Alice, it was a restaurant. But because farm families didn’t tend to dine out all that often—and they did ask Paul to pick up a shirt or two when he went into the city for supplies—he decided to shift the focus of the family business to clothes and other outdoor gear.

“If it didn’t have a purpose, it went away,” said PJ Karpiak, Paul’s grandson and co-owner of the store. “That’s how Grandpa took care of things, and that’s pretty much how we still run the show today. We sell products that solve people’s problems, and if we don’t believe in the clothes or coats or boots or caps, we won’t put them on our shelves.”

Sometimes that means they don’t stock the latest fads, but that’s just what makes Alice’s Wonderland so popular.

“Our customers are the kind of people who spend their lives outside,” added Karpiak, “and they’re not going to come back if you sell them something that doesn’t stand up to their lifestyle.”

This philosophy stems from a belief in serving the customer the way shopkeepers used to. Because, as the Karpiaks say, “You can buy anything you want on the internet (at Alice’s website, in fact) but you visit the shop for a reason. To be helped.”

This philosophy is also the reason Alice’s now sells Stormy Kromer wool caps and clothes.

“Kromer fits us perfectly. It’s a great product with a great history, and when people say ‘You can’t find anything good that’s made in the USA,’ this is what I show them.”

And when you find our way out to Alice’s Wonderland, you’ll know the trip was worth it.

Featured Retailer: Mast General Store

Stop by and see what hasn’t changed in the last 129 years.

There’s an 80-year-old man in the village of Valle Crucis, North Carolina, who can’t remember a day he didn’t head down to Mast General Store for lunch—a plug of baloney and a cold glass of Yoo-Hoo.

He’s not alone. Most folks in this tiny, Blue-Ridge-Mountain town (and thousands more from the surrounding region) depend on the Mast Store for virtually everything a person needs for life. Shoes, socks, shirts and outdoor gear—plus things like jams, jellies, hand-made furniture and the sort of service you’d expect at the turn of the century.

Just not the last turn of the century.

Mast General Store opened in 1883 to take care of the friends and neighbors who farmed the surrounding lands. And even though generations of those farmers have turned into generations of city-dwellers, they continue to seek the authenticity the Store was founded on.

“We still ask our patrons what they need us to stock, and that’s what we put on our shelves,” said Sheri Moretz, Community Relations Manager for all nine Mast Stores. “It works like retail is supposed to: recognizing and caring about customers, welcoming them with conversation, keeping them as friends.”

Walk in the store and see it for yourself. The first thing you’ll notice is people playing checkers at the potbellied stove with bottle caps off a few old-fashioned Coca-Colas. The next thing you’ll notice is the Post Office, where Valle Crucis still gets its mail. After that, grab yourself a cup of coffee—it’s a nickel, and that’s on the honor system—then mosey up and down the aisles. (Literally up and down, too, because the floor isn’t so level after all these years.)

You can also take a seat on the liar’s bench out front, which is where many good tales are told.

“We love stories here at Mast Store,” added Moretz before diving into one about the time the Charles Kuralt came in for a visit. “He wrote an article about us and said ‘Where should I send you to know the Soul of the South? I think I’ll send you to Mast General Store.’ That was the 1980s, and people are still seeking that same experience.”

It’s these types of genuine, down-to-earth anecdotes that led the buyers at Mast Store to put Kromers on the shelves.

“Stormy Kromer’s got a great story,” said Moretz. “It’s authentic, and it shows we share the same values. This is a made-in-the-USA product that fits a modern need in a traditional manner. That’s what we are, too.”

Stop by, see for yourself, and spin a few stories of your own, at MastGeneralStore.com.

Mr. Grossman, You are the Caretaker of a Legend.

All employees here at Stormy Kromer receive this nifty plaque when they are hired, reminding them of the rich Kromer history they are keeping alive.

We all have fun displaying them on our desks, sewing machines and other work stations.  It gives everyone a little extra sense of pride.

So we got to thinking, who else deserves this honor?

Last month, at a long overdue dinner meeting in Milwaukee, Bob Jacquart, our CEO, presented Dick Grossman with a special Caretaker of a Legend plaque.

If you need a quick refresher, Mr. Grossman was the second owner of the Kromer Cap Company, having purchased it from Stormy himself in the mid-60′s.  In 2001, after one meeting and a handshake, Bob and Dick had an agreement which moved the Kromer Blizzard Cap to its current home in Ironwood, MI.  Dick continued running the Kromer Cap Company for a few more years in Milwaukee, manufacturing the company’s cotton caps used by welders, railroad workers, and other tradespeople.

At 79, Dick is now retired from the hat business.  He’s as high-energy as ever, and is downright giddy about the success of Stormy Kromer over the past 10 years.  He’s pretty sure that Stormy would be proud of us too.

Presenting this small token of appreciation to him seemed the least that we could do.  Without him, who knows what would have been the fate of the now iconic cap?  He believed in the product, in making things in the USA, and in good old-fashioned quality.  He kept things going until the next Caretaker was ready to take over.

And for that Dick, we tip our caps to you.

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.