The first thing that you see when you walk into Duluth Trading Co.’s Mall of America store (open Thursday, November 7) is a cut out of Buck Naked on a stripper pole. Or, maybe if you’re more wholesome, he’s on a fire pole. The second thing is a mural, unmistakably Adam Turman, unmistakably Minnesotan, and unmistakably Buck in his fittest form as Michaleangelo’s “David” with a cherry and a spoon instead of a sling and a stone.
“I love the brand’s willingness to make fun of itself,” Turman says, and after looking around the store, that’s certainly apparent. Following the vein of experiential shopping, this location (its sixth in Minnesota and one of 60-something in the country) has the grand subtitle of “The Museum of Man Area and Underwear Shop.” The store is almost all men’s underwear, but there is a small “museum gift store” by the register that includes some T-shirts, crew socks, and angry beaver stuffed animals.
While the store is still most definitely a store (which is a bit of a relief—I don’t know how out there you want your underwear buying experience to be), Ricker Schlecht and the rest of the creative team at Duluth Trading Co. upped the stylization. Each underwear style has its own exhibit-like signage and tidbit, whether it’s showing you how the Armachillo line adds cooling pieces of jade into its fabric or displaying rooster art submitted by Duluth Trading Co. employees to celebrate the Free Range (organic) Cotton line. There are also the almost-obligatory social media-friendly extras, like the giant rooster and a selfie spot. It remains to be seen how popular they’ll be, but like everything else, they exude the brand: silly, outdoorsy, and everyman.
In talking with store manager Karen Schepers, and communications manager Kate Jensen, they both have anecdotes of the underwear’s fans. Schepers talks about how she’s heard of groups of painters and construction workers taking their lunch breaks together to shop for underwear. Jensen mentions the letters upon letters they’ve gotten from pilots, who just love the Buck Naked line because of the comfort it gives them during long flights, and how employees who work at the Mt. Horeb store in Madison talk would visit with their out-of-town relatives for years before they joined the Duluth Trading Co. team.
This location seems to have a more commercialized vibe than the tight-knit community feel in those stories, but it more than represents the brand and the state to those who aren’t as familiar with it, making it a good fit for Mall of America. Be one of the first to visit when the store opens at 10 a.m. on November 7. Dennig and Schepers expect the line outside the store doors to begin at 7 a.m., and the promise of gift cards up to $100 for the first 100 people doesn’t hurt.
“This store was really meant to show off all of the products and tell people something new about their features,” says Duluth Trading Co. representative Melanie Dennig of Turner PR. “And we hope people take away a fun fact for the water cooler, like ‘did you know the types of cirrus clouds’ or a bit of history about Duluth Trading Co.—something that’s fun to share.”