Duluth Trading Co., the Internet/catalog workwear clothing company, is returning to Minnesota.
The Belleville, Wis.-based business is opening its first retail store in the state in Bloomington this fall.
"Most of our customers interact with us via the Web or our catalog," Duluth Trading president Stephanie Pugliese said. "We want them to experience us in 3-D by trying on the clothing in the store."
Pugliese said Duluth Trading chose the Twin Cities for its large fan base of about 50,000 customers here. The privately held company even asked several hundred area customers where they would like to see a Minnesota store located.
"Bloomington showed up often and several specifically mentioned the Burger Brothers location," Pugliese said.
The 14,000-square-foot store will be the largest for the retailer, which has smaller Wisconsin stores in Mount Horeb and Port Washington and an outlet in Belleville. It will include the full line of men's and women's work clothing from the online collection as well as accessories and gear.
The company launched with simple beginnings in 1989 in Duluth, when construction workers and brothers Bob and Dave Fierek designed the Bucket Boss tool organizer.
The brothers expanded their product line into a catalog, which was named Duluth Trading in 1993. Their first headquarters floated on the Lake Superior waterfront in Duluth's shipping district, but there was never a retail location.
The brothers sold the company in 1996 to Fiskars, which sold it to CEO Steve Schlecht in 2001.
Duluth Trading is known for its "no bull" return policy and cheeky ads, including Ballroom jeans for men who want "crouch without the ouch" and Longtail T-shirts to prevent "plumber's butt."
Both are bestsellers along with Fire Hose work pants made from the same cotton canvas as a fire hose. In 2005 the company added women's work clothes, which now make up 20 percent of sales, according to Pugliese.
Real customers test the products and are featured in advertisements instead of models. In 2011 a farmer from Hutchinson, Minn., was photographed wielding her ax, as well as harvesting watermelons, turning compost and driving a tractor.
Construction began two weeks ago on the new store located in the former Burger Brothers Sporting Goods store at 98th and Lyndale in Bloomington.