Duluth Trading Co. Gets Down to Brick-and-Mortar Business

Duluth Trading Co. Gets Down to Brick-and-Mortar Business

Duluth Trading Co. Gets Down to Brick-and-Mortar Business 1440 428 Chute Gerdeman

Notable for its cheeky ads for products like buck-naked underwear, ballroom jeans, and no-yank tanks, Duluth Trading Co, is “bringing humor to everyday, universal truths,” taking real fit and function problems and having a little fun with it.

While most people today are probably familiar with the pants, shirts, and underwear, it was actually one product, the Boss Bucket that started it all in 1989. After witnessing workers on a job site lugging tools around in 5-gallon buckets, brothers Bob and Dave Fierek, knew there had to be a better way. The duo created a canvas tool carrier to fit around the bucket, and soon after they launched a complete line of products for storage, organization, and transportation. Making sure the products could stand the test of time and keep up with the toughest jobs; Bob and Dave established a “Trades Panel” for product development and testing. Headquartered on a barge in Duluth, Minnesota the brand began to take shape with a catalog, originally called Portable Products, and an online presence. Moving beyond the gear the brand eventually expanded into rugged, functional workwear catering to tradesmen and women. Brick-and-mortar seemed like a logical next step to help create awareness in new markets and connect with Duluth consumers. Today the brand has 40 stores throughout the Midwest, and most recently opened in Columbus, Ohio. So, we geared up and headed out to experience what the brand is all about.

Duluth Trading Co
Duluth Trading Co
Duluth Trading Co

The overall space has an elevated hardware store aesthetic that feels welcoming to even a novice tradesman. A 1947 hunter green Studebaker pickup truck greets guests as they enter the space, pulling double duty as a truckbed display for a collection of t-shirts.

Duluth Trading Co
Duluth Trading Co
Duluth Trading Co

With menswear on the left and womenswear on the right, the checkout sits at the center as a hub for service. In the back, customers will discover a builder’s lounge to sit and relax, surf online, and learn a little about the brand.

Duluth Trading Co
Duluth Trading Co
Duluth Trading Co

Lifestyle photography is balanced with illustrative graphics. Originally the brand embraced illustrative art in the catalogs as a means to save money, but they’ve now consciously carried it through to current day paying homage to craftsmanship and tradition.

Duluth Trading Co
Duluth Trading Co
Duluth Trading Co

Attention to detail is evident throughout the space. Thoughtful visual merchandising mixed with found objects like workbenches, wire baskets, buckets, tool chests, and antique tools create an authentic aesthetic reflective of the brand’s hardworking Midwestern heritage.

Duluth Trading Co
Duluth Trading Co
Duluth Trading Co

As expected, Duluth’s witty sense of humor is alive in-store. A sign with the brand’s mantra proudly asserts its no bull attitude for making great products. “At Duluth, we’re a band of hellbent tinkerers and taunters. We’re fussers, futzers, and fine-tuners. We don’t take workwear, or too much of anything for that matter, for what it is. We see things for what they could be. Then we find a way to make them exactly that. We get our jollies from prodding all things expected with a big pointy stick. Because day in and day out, poking average squarely in the eye is exactly what Duluth Trading Co was born to do.”

Duluth Trading Co
Duluth Trading Co
Duluth Trading Co

All in good fun though, they make sure you don’t forget it’s about function. Callouts of benefit-driven messaging highlight innovation in an approachable way, and create confidence in the quality of the product. An overall can-do attitude leaves you feeling equipped for the everyday job at hand whatever it should present.

The brand’s irreverent attitude has positioned them well in the online market, but they realize to grow, they need to go offline. The brand reportedly plans to open as many as 100 stores in the next five years.

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CHUTE GERDEMAN
455 South Ludlow Street
Columbus, OH 43215 USA
+1 614 469 1001
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