Holiday Gift Guide, Courtesy of the Upper Peninsula

Here at Stormy Kromer, we’re proud to be made in the USA.  Sometimes we’re even prouder to be made in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula, even though you might not know exactly where that is.  Let’s just say that if pointing out the UP on a map was one of David Letterman’s geography stunts out on the streets of New York City, the failure rate would be pretty high.

We like to think that we’re a small part of changing that.  A part of, well, putting the UP back on the map.  As the holidays approach, we thought we’d share some other great UP companies who are not just surviving, but thriving in this wilderness we call home.  Check them out; you might just find that perfect gift for the hard-to-buy-for on your list.

Iverson Snowshoes – For over 50 years the Iverson craftsmen have been handcrafting the finest traditional snowshoes, right here in the USA.  All are based on designs that have been perfected through the eons. They strive to mix tradition with technology while staying true to their cause. No techie terms or slick marketing slogans, just the best snowshoes for the true enthusiasts.  Shingleton, MI.

Rapid River Knifeworks – Established in the spring of 2002, Rapid River Knifeworks is a producer of high quality custom knives. With a lot of skill, a few pieces of machinery and some really big dreams, they developed a line of custom knives that combine beauty with strength and practical usability. Rapid River, MI.

Sayklly’s Confectionary & GiftsSince 1906 and for three generations the Sayklly family has been delighting folks in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and beyond with homemade chocolates and candies, made from old-world recipes with only premium ingredients.  They even feature a chocolate bar in the shape of our fair peninsula.  Escanaba, MI.

Pasty Central – To be clear, it’s pronounced with a short ‘a’, and it’s a hearty meal of beef, potatoes and onions seasoned and wrapped in a flaky crust.  Made popular in the UP during the mining heyday, it’s unofficially the official food of the peninsula.  Pasty Central will ship them straight to your door, so you can enjoy them, no matter your zip code.  Calumet, MI.

For even more UP products, including those made by individuals artists and craftsmen, check out Michigan Upper Hand.

What other made in the USA products do you plan to give this year?


 

What We’re Thankful For, by Stormy Kromer

From the slightly silly to the serious, and in no particular order, this is what we are thankful for here at Stormy Kromer this week.

Living Legend Finalists – After reading their stories, we think you’ll be thankful for people like these outstanding citizens too.  Don’t forget to vote for your favorite.

Ida Kromer – Like most men, when Stormy needed some help, he turned to his wife.  Without her, his idea may never have turned into reality.  Now she’s finally getting her due with our expanding line of women’s products.

Sheep – Heck, without them, what would we make our legendary caps out of?

Our Employees – Without the dedicated men and women who cut, sew, package and ship our gear, Stormy Kromer Mercantile would not exist.  For that, they deserve a tip of the hat.

Our Customers & Fans – We think we’ve got the best customers in the business.  You appreciate the value of Made in the USA products, you faithfully spread the word about our gear and you share the best photos, videos and stories with us.

Snow – As much as we hate to admit it, we actually love that fluffy white stuff.  The accumulation started last week, and now we’re counting down the days until there is enough for the cross country trails, ski hills, and snowmobile trails to open.  Remember, you can now keep track of the snowfall at SK headquarters on our homepage.

From our family to yours, we’d like to wish you a safe, peaceful and most importantly, warm, Thanksgiving holiday.

What are you thankful for this week?

Welcome to the Kromer Kap Kulture Klub. Well, sort of.

Although they’re a welcoming bunch of guys and there’s no secret handshake or anything, this isn’t a club—excuse me, klub—you can join. You see, you’ve got to be part of the Opatik family (or a very close friend) and you’ve got to be a Stormy Kromer fanatic.

Frank Opatik is both. His first Kromer Original Wool Cap was handed down to him by his father in 1960. (“I was the oldest, so I was first in line,” he said.) It’s the black one, he still wears it, and it’s still in its original shape. His son, Steve, wears his maternal grandfather’s cap, also black, and also over 50 years old. Visitors to the cabin wear red.

The caps are well preserved and worn with pride every year at the family’s hunting compound, a no-power, no-plumbing log cabin north of Gleason, Wisconsin, that Frank built in 1978 after being inspired—literally—by the label on Log Cabin syrup.

The cabin is where the idea for the Kulture Klub was first formed.

“Well, we were all up there at deer camp one year sitting under the gas lamps and playing cards. We were wearing our Kromers, and we realized we were part of a pretty special club,” said Frank, a retired engineer and marketing executive. “We decided to call it the Kromer Kap Kulture Klub because there’s a quite a bit of culture up there,” he added with a  laugh.

Original members of the Klub include Frank and his son, Steve; Frank’s brother-in-law, Gary Martin; Gary’s son, Bryan; and Frank’s brother, John, who’s since passed away.

Membership has now swelled to seven, and each inductee holds a official Certificate of Membership, plus honorary, non-voting stock in—yes—Kromer Kap Kulture Klub, LLC. Or is that LLK?

“My wife, Joyce, and I created the LLC as part of our estate plan, leaving the land and cabin to our kids,” added Frank. “And the ‘K’ thing? Well, that just sort of came naturally.”

Naturally. Like “bakon” on the camp menu, which also states “This menu was prepared on a Kromer Komputer, and we use a Kromer Spellchecker.”

Frank is fiercely proud of his caps (he has three, including a specially designed 25th Anniversary cap for the Klub) and of the authentic, down-to-earth culture that’s developed at the cabin.

“Our motto is: ‘Where the work ends and the fun begins.’”

And when you see them bringing in their trophy bucks or watching a Packers game (it’s the only thing they use the generator for because they don’t want to “get too civilized”), you’ll know that’s the kind of kulture you want to be part of.

Do you have any Stormy Kromer traditions that you’d like to share?

Meet the Stormy Kromer Customer Service Gals

The only thing our Customer Service folks can’t do over the phone is serve you pie and coffee.

If you’ve got concerns, questions, or simply want to order a catalog, they’re the kind of folks you want to help you out. Extra-mile kind of people. People who love to sit and share a good story.

So, who are these lovely ladies?

(From the left…)

Kirsten Dowd has been in Customer Service for just about 2 years now.  She’s the leader of this bunch and has a way with people that is practically unmatched.  You’ll also notice her modeling SK gear on our website and in our catalog.  (And her husband graces the cover of our current catalog.)

Katie Guglielmotto has a great connection to Stormy Kromer.  You see, her mom, Mona, is one of the fine ladies who hand-sews our famous hats.  Katie not only does a great job assisting customers, but she is also one of our finest factory tour-givers.  Talk about a natural storyteller…

Angela Brannigan is a new addition to the crew, giving us a hand during the busy fall/winter/holiday season. She’s jumped in so well it feels like she’s been here forever!

Lori DeRosso does double duty for us, working both in Customer Service and accounting. (She also provides administrative support to our CEO, so let’s just say she’s a busy lady!)  In addition, Lori’s daughter just started sewing on the Kromer production line.

Starr Higgins juggles multiple roles here at Stormy Kromer and does so beautifully.  Not only will you hear her voice over the phone, you will also meet her in person if you happen to stop by our factory store.  She’s the boss of our recently refurbished store and will help you find a hat in your perfect size.

Now that you’ve gotten to know our amazing customer service crew, as well as our designer, which other members of the Stormy Kromer team would you like to meet?