Nat Kimberling was one of the first customers to walk through the doors of the new Duluth Trading Company in Independence Thursday morning.
The North Kansas City resident was more than happy to make the 45-minute drive because he couldn’t wait to see what his favorite clothing store, with its newest location at 18010 East Bass Pro Drive, had to offer.
“I’m wearing a Duluth flannel shirt, T-shirt and jeans,” said Kimberling, who ordered all those items off the store’s popular website. “When I heard they were opening a store in Independence, I couldn’t wait to get down here.”
As he talked about the store, he tried on a number of suit jackets that featured the unique Duluth twist – as they were "dressy enough for dinner, but tough enough to wear while cutting wood for an open fire."
“I have long arms, and there are some things I just needed to try on before I bought them,” said Kimberling, who lives off Interstate 29 in Northtown. “This jacket is called a presentation jacket, and you can wear it for anything. I’ve wanted one for quite a while. Now, I can try it on and make sure it fits.”
The store opening featured a 9 a.m. ribbon cutting ceremony with Steve Schlecht, Duluth chairman of the board and founder, and Independence Mayor Eileen Weir, a catered chili lunch and a lumberjack demonstration.
“We are so excited to be in Independence,” said Schlecht, as the Independence store is the first in Missouri and 16th in the nation. “We hope to bring in people from 100 to 200 or so miles. This is just our second build-to-suit store and it’s so exciting to see all our products come to life.”
Mail order was the only source to purchase Duluth Trading Company products until the store began building sites around the nation.
“We are delighted to open our 16th store in this historic city that was the main point of departure for so many American pioneers traveling west on the California, Oregon and Santa Fe Trails,” said Stephanie Pugliese, Chief Executive Officer of Duluth Trading. “We have a very strong and loyal customer base in the metropolitan Kansas City area and we are excited to bring our unique retail experience and solution-based apparel to our customers and visitors to the region.”
There is a unique feel inside the store that offers men’s and women’s sports and workwear and a number of accessories, work tools, bath items and even a clothing line for children.
“This isn’t just a store for Independence,” Weir said after the opening ceremony. “Like Steve said, it is for Blue Springs, and Independence, and Grain Valley and Lee’s Summit and Oak Grove and all of the metro area. And I know it’s going to attract shoppers from all over the Midwest. This is a big day for Independence.”
Mandee Packer, the Independence store manager, said the new business has attracted a wide variety of shoppers during a short soft opening before the grand opening Thursday.
“We have a lot of male shoppers, but we get the ladies in here, too, and a lot of families,” she said. “I think once a shopper walks in our doors, they’re going to get excited by what we have to offer and because of the feel of the Duluth Trading Company. It’s a fun experience to walk in our doors.”
While the men are shopping for their favorite item, the ladies can relax in a hospitality room that features oversized chairs, televisions and drinks.
Along from the high-end clothing and accessories, the store offers a wide variety of signage, such as the Ultimate Fire Hose Pants are “Tougher than a Giant Angry Beaver’s Teeth,” or the one for the custom leather bags and carry-on items, “Bags So Tough They Can Win a Bar Fight,” or the ones for their Naked line of underwear for men and women.
Find out more about the store at www.duluthtrading.com.