To enjoy Minnesota's cold climate in the winter, you need more than a North hat. You also need a great parka.
At least that's what Askov Finlayson is banking its future on.
The retailer owned by brothers Eric and Andrew Dayton closed its North Loop store last year, put its inventory on sale and said it would concentrate on its own brand.
Eric Dayton said this week that when the store reopens in November, it will be all about winter outerwear. But the store will be secondary to e-commerce for Askov Finlayson moving forward.
"We wanted to do one thing really well, start with a clear, tight focus," Dayton said. "If we do that well, we'll earn the opportunity to do more in the future."
So the retailer looked at what its strengths were as a brand. The single product most associated with Askov Finlayson was the North hat. It dovetailed with the concept of North — as an identity of place, the people who live here and the company doing everything it can to prevent climate change.
"It is core to our DNA as a brand: Keep the North cold," said Dayton, whose father is former Gov. Mark Dayton and great-grandfather is the founder of Dayton's department store company, now Target Corp.
"We wanted to make sure to carry that forward, and we tried a number of different things," he said.
Discussions started centering on winter outerwear. "We realized that's where we had the most opportunity and the most excitement," Dayton said.
Askov Finlayson is now in the final stages of design and making manufacturing decisions. "We're getting close but still working through a lot of the details," he said.
The decisions are based on the Daytons' larger mission to have a "net positive effect" on climate. The company has pledged to counterbalance the effect its operations — from the office to manufacturing and delivery — have on the environment by donating 110% of that calculated cost to climate-change groups.
The company has committed to donating $1 million over a five-year period, beginning in 2018, to organizations fighting climate change.
Dayton has received international attention for his North campaign and the company's pledge. He was named this year to the World Economic Forum's Young Global Leaders program.
The Dayton brothers, who also own the Bachelor Farmer cafe and Marvel Bar, opened the Askov Finlayson store seven years ago. In the past few years, the retailer has built up its digital staff and operations to concentrate on producing and marketing its own brand.