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home : columnists : columnists July 25, 2017

3/3/2017 4:00:00 AM
Getting 'Buck Naked' at Duluth
The Times photo by Betsy ReasonNoblesville’s Mike Nelson is manager of the new Duluth Trading Co.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason

Noblesville’s Mike Nelson is manager of the new Duluth Trading Co.

By Betsy Reason

If the underwear advertisements for Duluth Trading Co. make you blush, you're not alone.

"Slip into the 'no pinch, no stink, no sweat' comfort of Buck Naked underwear - so comfortable, it's like wearing nothing at all."

If you're familiar with the store, you've likely seen the slogan, among others that might tend to embarrass you in front of your mother.

"Everything we do is with a wink and a smile," said Noblesville's Mike Nelson, manager for the store, which celebrated its grand opening on Thursday.

Before taking the position, Nelson was already a big fan of Duluth clothing, "even the underwear," he said with a grin, staying with the conversation. "We talk about our underwear all day long here," he said. "That's our No. 1 product. We sell more units of our underwear than anything else." You can even buy it in a can.

The slogans don't stop there. Duluth sells "Ballroom Jeans," "Unwet Your Pants: Dry On the Fly" apparel and "Fire Hose Workwear."

Nelson said, "We walk up to the line but try not to cross it. We try to have a sense of humor about everything."

Noblesville's store is the first in Indiana and the 17th location in the nation. The closest retail stores are Downers Grove and Hoffman Estates, both in Illinois and more than 160 miles away.

The company started in 1989 in Duluth, Minn., on a refurbished dredge barge on Lake Superior, with brothers Bob and Dave Fierek creating their first product, a tool organizer called the "Bucket Boss." The first piece of clothing was the Longtail T-shirt for "Plumber's Butt," which in the first decade made a name for itself "of the un-plumbering of almost 2.5 million butts."

The Noblesville store has 35 employees, who quickly filled all of the positions during a one-week job fair. Employees' perks? Store discount and consent to wear jeans and flannel on the job.

The store targeted this new location - behind Hamilton Town Center and across the street from Cabela's - to the company's already-established large Noblesville online customer base.

Nelson, a Chicago-area native who worked at Lands' End and Golfsmith retailer, has been a longtime online shopper of the Duluth brand.

But now, customers can see and touch products first-hand in the new 15,000-square-foot Noblesville store, the third built-to-suit location in the nation. In the back of the store, a hospitality area offers customers free coffee, tea and water, and a big screen continually plays Duluth commercials and product videos. Also, a turquoise 1966 International Model 100A pickup farm truck is the centerpiece of the store, located just inside the front door.

During the grand opening, folks had the opportunity to watch nationally-known Stihl Timbersports Series athletes, including Adam LaSalle, throw axes and demonstrate other lumberjack sports during two live shows in the parking lot.

Nelson said the store's soft opening on March 23 was "the very best day we've ever had at a soft open," topping all of Duluth's 17 locations in the nation. He was also pleased with the turnout and sales during Thursday's grand opening. Nelson feels it's a sign of good fortune coming to Noblesville. He said, "We're excited."

-Contact me at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.

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