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.

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?