Duluth Trading Co Flannelytics

The Duluth Trading Company has just posted a new blog post regarding the Top Flannel Cities in the US. I am already a tad prejudice toward them since their connection to Duluth is in name only. Now, seeing they don’t even mention Duluth, Minnesota as a flannel locale, I am even more opposed to their co-opting our city name. One would think they would at least try to open a retail store here, instead of only in southern Wisconsin and the Twin Cities area.



about 6 years ago

Duluth Trading Company was founded in Duluth, hence the name.


about 6 years ago

I have always been a little suspicious of their "founded in Duluth" claim. Story on website sounds a little hokey. Can anyone verify?

Paul Lundgren

about 6 years ago

The original company, Portable Products, started out in Duluth. Founder Bob Fierek moved it to St. Paul around 1989. Duluth Trading Co. was formed in 1991 and was supposed to be spun off of Portable Products and moved to Duluth, but it never happened. It was instead sold to Fiskars Consumer Products in 1996 and moved to Wausau, then sold to Steve Schlecht in 2001 and moved to Belleville.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Catalog merchant known for cheek

Duluth's Rick Kollath still illustrates the catalogs.

Sometimes companies get sold. It happens.


about 6 years ago

They're still promoting Duluth.  That's what everyone wants isn't it?  Maybe they could get this guy for a little more pump-you-up PR instead of those hot boring models they have:


about 6 years ago

Ha ha! That tiny critic made my day. We need a few like him (or is it her?) in Duluth to speak before the city council.


about 6 years ago

Thanks JR, as for all the other Duluthamaticians wondering what in God's name this has to do with anything, Ill do my best to tie it in now, since I've batted left field a few times more than my allotment. 

The little fella in the clip mentions how he once, in 1975 guided Bob Dylan up a staircase, implying this to be the greatest measure of his achievements in the arts.  I think you could get this guy a flannel shirt specially fitted, and have him remind potential customers around the globe though a brilliant PR campaign, he once guided Double B up these stairs, who himself was carrying the tiny critic in a Duluth Pack on the way to the stage, and this deed alone would open up profits within the company exponentially, as though Christ himself had parted the Red Sea to make way for this caravan of cash, thereby necessitating the company's relocation back to the Twin Ports.


about 6 years ago

Well, since I have some history with this, I suppose I'll wade in (though Paul already covered some of it). Duluth Trading Company was the name given to the Portable Products mail order catalog back in 1992 or 1993 by the major partner in the Business, Bob Fierek. Bob, his brother Dave (they're from Morgan Park) and another partner started the company to sell the "Bucket Boss," a nylon sleeve with pockets that fit over a 5-gallon bucket to hold tools for tradesmen, making a kind of inexpensive tool box. The original catalog was aptly named the Portable Products Catalog, but a name change was forced on Fierek by vendors early on. He chose "Duluth Trading Company" with the intention of re-locating in Duluth.

Early on there were plans to move the mail order catalog part of the business to Duluth, to a barge moored in the Duluth Timber slip, but the sale to Fiskars pre-empted that. Bob would love to see Duluth Trading Company locate back to Duluth.

So the name has actual connection to our fine city. My own currently modest involvement began with their first catalog, which I illustrated and designed in 1991. I worked on most of the other catalogs through the sale of the business to Fiskars up until Steve Schlecht bought the catalog part of the business in 2001. He already had another catalog business with an in-house design department so I lost the design part and mostly just provided illustration after that. I still draw a bunch of the product illustrations and a few of the covers.

Interestingly, Steve has wanted to open a store in Duluth for years. I suspect if he could find a reasonable location, he'd be here pretty quickly.


about 6 years ago

Now can we please shelve the "OMG Duluth Trading Company isn't in Duluth!!!" controversy?


about 6 years ago

I had never heard of this company, but, intrigued, I went to their website to check it out. Now I'm out $109. Shoot.


about 6 years ago

I used to live in Madison (Belleville is a tiny burg not far away) and, having grown up near Duluth, thought I would check them out about 8 years ago. I placed an order for wooden building blocks and marble run set for my then 4 year old nephew for Christmas, weeks early. It never arrived. Finally, the week before Christmas, I called and asked where my order was. They replied, "oh, that's been discontinued." When I asked how I was supposed to know this, the reply was something like, "not sure." After a bit more conversation I was quite upset and said that based on this experience I would never order from them again and would tell everyone I knew about this. The reply? They LAUGHED.

I'd like to think things have improved there but I'm still so surprised at this horrible treatment that I still will not give them my business.


about 6 years ago

I received a Duluth Trading Company jacket as a gift a few years ago. The zipper stopped working on it recently, so I e-mailed the company. A quick response stated I could send it or bring it in for an exchange. No questions asked. Next time in Madison I went to their Mt. Horeb store and sure enough, got a brand new jacket. No hassles.  Easy peasy.

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