Wisconsin-based Duluth Trading Co. will open its first store in Arkansas on Thursday (May 9) at 3200 S. 27th Street in Rogers, just south of AG Russell Knives and the At Home store off of the Pleasant Grove Road exit of Interstate 49.
The Rogers store will be No. 53 for the Mount Horeb, Wisc.-based specialty retailer known far and wide for its “Buck Naked” brand of underwear. Steve Nicoll, a native of Springdale, is the local store manager. Nicoll said Rogers was chosen for a brick-and-mortar store because of the demand the company already gets online and through its catalog business from the region.
He said the location off I-49 is easily accessible for consumers coming from the North or South. The store is 15,000 square feet and resembles a red barn, as the company brand is synonymous with work apparel and accessories that have also drawn a following from outdoor enthusiasts given the functionality of each item.
Nicoll said for an item to make it into production it must serve a purpose beyond just being a garment. For instance, the store carries travel shirts with a zip pocket in front to store passports and credit cards. There are also specialty shirts that reflect light and repel water and bugs. He said about 12,000 square feet of the store is retail sales space.
The store also features a relaxation station with complimentary Keurig Coffee or filtered ice water. There are two leather chairs for lounging and a large-screen television that will display promotions and ads. There is also a coloring station for kids.
Nicoll said the store employs around 50 workers, most of whom are part-time. He said the hiring fair for the store was a big success as all the jobs were filled within three days. He said workers are driving from as far as Mount Comfort, Mo., Alma and west of Conway to work at the store.
“Our company does a great job training its workforce. Each associate took part in two weeks of training held locally that is required by the company. Not only were they given a crash course in salesmanship, but also in Duluth’s history and mission. I was able to visit four other stores prior to this opening,” he said.
Nicoll joined Duluth in January. Though he grew up in Springdale, he spent several years working outside the state, most recently handling the retail division for Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisc. Prior to that, he held a similar job for the Dallas Cowboys. Nicoll has logged nearly 40 years in retail getting his start from Dillard’s in Fayetteville while in college at the University of Arkansas.
“I spent 28 years with Dillard’s and then I went to the Sports Authority, then Parisian Saks and Belk before moving into corporate retail. When Miller Park decided to take their retail business back in-house, I was looking to make a change. I saw where Duluth was going to put a store in Rogers and the thought of coming home just felt right. My wife is from Little Rock and we both have family here. I am honored to run this local store for a company like Duluth and delve back into brick-and-mortar,” Nicoll said.
The local store has roughly 50,000 items and Nicoll said if there is something a customer wants they don’t have in-stock, there are two stations within the store where customers can order items online. He said within the next two months Duluth will make buy-online-pickup-in-store available at the Rogers location.
The soft opening is slated for Thursday at 9 a.m and the grand opening is set for May 16. Nicoll said a lumberjack show will take place at the grand opening at 10:30 a.m. with log splitting and other traditional lumberjack activities being displayed for customers.
Duluth dates back to 1989 and is named for two tradesmen who invented the bucket boss tools organizer. In 1990, a group of tradesmen started testing products and by 1991 they established a business located in Duluth, Minn. on Lake Superior. The company started with a catalog business, moved into e-commerce and built its first store in 2010, according to the company’s website.
“Duluth is not just a retailer, it’s a trusted brand,” Nicoll said.
You can watch a sneak peek video tour of the story in the video below.