Tag Archives: outdoors

Stormy Stories, Volume 2

Welcome to our next Stormy Stories post. In this series we’ll celebrate the unique, rugged, down-to-earth and genuine people we’re proud to call our customers.

We found Randee the very first year we put out a call on Facebook for models, and she returned to work with us again this year. Randee reminds us a lot of the people here in Ironwood: a small-town, northern Minnesota girl who savors life and all the adventures it brings. She owns her own photography business, Made For You Photography, and when she’s not working she’s usually out shooting trap, hunting, snowmobiling or fishing with her family. Did we mention she also works part-time at a store that sells Kromer products?

randee1Here’s some more about Randee from a recent conversation we had about her connection to Stormy Kromer:

SK: How did you come to know about Stormy Kromer?

RD: As a proud fourth generation Kromer wearer, I’ve known about the caps my whole life. When I finally managed to get a cap of my own, it was the Ida Kromer Cap in Pink. I love that hat. And even though I’ve added on to my collection since then, I still wear it often.

SK: Well, since you brought it up, what’s in your Stormy Kromer collection today?

RD: Counting my most recent purchase just a week or so ago, I’ve got six caps, two pair of mittens, a coat and the new Parkland Vest. But my favorite item is the white and raspberry Petal Pusher. It gives me such easy, warm, adorable style. And while I’ve got a few friends who still think “Elmer Fudd” when I mention Kromer, I think I prove them wrong with this cap.

randee3SK: You’re definitely an outdoorsy kind of gal. What’s your most memorable outside moment?

RD: While I’ve had a lot of fabulous experiences, one of the most memorable would have to be when I shot my first deer. I’ll never forget it – I was four months pregnant with my son at the time! My husband was with me, and almost cried he was so excited for me. And of course, my Stormy Kromer was with me too.

SK: You’ve been on two different photo shoots with us now. Is there a moment during a shoot that stands out?

RD: Things got just a little crazy at the shoot this past March. The photographer, the amazing Mitch Kezar, got the idea to shoot a bunch of us from overhead while we were playing cards. To do this, he had to climb up a gazebo and then lay down on top of it, shooting down at us. He had it in his head he could get a great shot and he made it happen!

randeegroupSK: What’s your favorite Stormy Kromer story?

RD: It’s not so much a story but I love the bond you form with other Kromer wearers. When you see someone wearing a cap, you know you can walk right up to them, start a conversation, and most likely, make a new friend. This has happened to me time and time again.

SK: Our new tagline is Made Like You. What does that mean to you?

RD: It means that you are doing it right. Making things that are real, with high standards of quality and service, all the while giving American citizens jobs. Sadly, you don’t see all of those things in one place much anymore.

randee2

Meet Living Legend Finalist Elizabeth Tigue

Nominated by: Bethany Dunning, friend & colleague
Back in 2006, I met Liz, a high school biology teacher, at an after-work function. Several short weeks later, I was out in the woods with Liz, chaperoning a wilderness survival trip with 40+ high schoolers, along with her husband Tim. Liz grew up in the outdoors, and is a true outdoorswoman. Liz and Tim have raised their kids to be fantastic, balanced human beings, teaching them to love the outdoors as they both do, taking them hunting and fishing, and having them spend time with their Aunt Lisa, a paleontologist and geology professor, hunting for rocks and fossils. Their daughter Megan loves raising her chickens and spending time in the woods with her bow, as well as being an amazing Irish dancer (a hobby that she shares with her mom!). Brian is all boy, and is right there with his sister in the woods. And every November, Liz and Tim embarked into the wilds of northern Michigan to pass on their love of the outdoors to a new set of suburban teens, during which time they experienced rain and snow, sun and clouds, windy and still conditions. Tim took one for the team several years back and went “swimming” in the cold November waters of the Manistee River to help out 2 high schoolers who had tipped their canoe.

About 3 years ago Tim was diagnosed with lymphoma, but continued to go on the trip. Even the year that he wasn’t strong enough to paddle, he drove a chase vehicle on the trip, and slept on the ground with the rest of us, on a trip that included 4 straight days of cold November rain. Less than a year later, Tim, Liz’s rock, lost his battle with cancer.

Liz continues to be an amazing mother to her 2 kids, and continues to take kids into the woods every November, just so that they have what may be their first experience in a world without electricity and cell service, guiding them through the ups and downs of paddling and camping, just to pass on her love.

Charity: Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

Hometown: Rochester, MI

Meet Living Legend Finalist Chris Hillier!

Nominated by: Sandra Lowe, friend
Christopher Hillier is not a man who talks about a “mission.” He doesn’t claim to be any more than a man who loves to hike…long distances. Anybody who agrees to go for a walk with Christopher already knows he can go for miles and miles. This hiking man has been on countless trails for months at a time and still revels in the joy of walking anytime, with anyone. Christopher takes the time to include individuals for whom hiking is a challenge. He encourages virtually every person he meets to “get your boots on let’s hit the trail.”

Christopher is an Army veteran and has represented Burning Boots, a hiking group of veterans who are seeking solace and health through walking in nature. He also walked, or “hiked,” non-stop in May 2013 to raise money for the American Cancer Society at the 24-hour Relay for Life. He led a group of vision-impaired young people on a hike through western Michigan. Christopher also crossed the state with a bicyclist who uses a prosthetic leg. He encourages and inspires everyone around him to get moving. Overweight, Asperger’s Syndrome, elderly, young people…these are all individuals who have walked with Christopher and have been moved, literally, by him. His generous acts of inclusion make him a Living Legend.

In addition to hiking, Christopher also educates those around him. He has given talks at a local library and several hiking associations, as well as quasi-governmental agencies, giving advice on gear, terrain, survival, and anything else a person about to go on a hike would need to know. Christopher was nominated for the Governor’s Fitness Award and optimized the opportunity of speaking with Governor Snyder to talk about the importance of accessible and connected trails in Michigan.

No, Christopher isn’t on a mission. But this remarkable man has a vision that anybody who wants to walk should not have obstacles in order to do so. He has taught me and many others that the only real obstacle is lack of motivation.

Charity: American Cancer Society

Hometown: Taylor, MI

Meet Living Legend Finalist Adam Freeburg

Nominated by: Brooke Freeburg, wife
9 years ago, I met Adam just two weeks before he fell over 40 feet while rock climbing. He never once complained about his broken back, leg, or other various broken bones, which luckily have all healed. Through those 9 years I’ve gotten to see how much Adam loves life, and all things outdoors – from skiing the back country in the Tetons and Washington State to rock climbing (against my wishes). He is an Archeologist, PhD Student, Father, Mountain Biker, Hunter, Fisherman, Rock Climber, and Awesome Husband.

Adam is an amazing human being who gives so much of himself to everyone around him. To know Adam is to love him. Adam deserves to be a Living Legend because of his love of life. Much like Stormy Kromer, Adam loves baseball and all things outdoors. If he COULD sleep in a tent 365 days a year he would, but that would mean that I would have to lock the doors at night myself. Unlike George he doesn’t have a temper, but he deserves to be a Living Legend for putting up with mine (among everything else). When we found out that we were going to have a son, he said he wanted to start him out right in life. A few days later a small red Stormy Kromer arrived in the mail.

Charity: Don Jones Foundation

Hometown: Fairbanks, AK

Meet Living Legend Finalist Bruce Carnahan

Nominated by: Calli Ann Carnahan, daughter
Growing up in Ashland, Wisconsin, my father has always been regarded as the epitome of a “Man’s Man,” learning to hunt, fish, and survive in the woods from the day he was born.

While my siblings and I were growing up (and even today for that matter), my dad never seemed to run out of amazing stories that seem so foreign from the way life is today. He tells grand tales of getting dropped in the woods at the age of ten, alone, on the weekend for entertainment. He says he would bring with a few cans of beans, and a sleeping bag, and spend his summer weekends in the woods.

His lifelong experience shows. I have always been amazed by the amount of knowledge my dad has, as never once has he flaunted it. I swear he knows every edible thing in the wild, how to track any animal, and can sense the direction he is facing with his eyes closed. I have never met another person who can ward off the cold as he does, not even wearing gloves while ice fishing out on Lake Superior.

Now, by the time I came along I already had a 10-year-old brother, and a 7-year-old sister. My mom was a stay at home mom and worked part-time at the Hardware Hank in town. My dad worked construction and had owned his own company for a few years by the time I was born.

My mom and dad met when they were in their teens, and my mom got pregnant with my brother, Tony, when she was 19, and my dad 24. I swear they have never once had it easy.

Their journey was remarkable. From what they say, they lived in a tent on Madeline Island for a summer while my dad was working there, in a hunting shack in Bayfield with no bathroom and a wood burning stove, with my grandparents on their farm, in a trailer on the outskirts of town, and eventually in a small cabin on McCarrey Lake in Iron River, WI.

My siblings and I all had different childhoods, but we can all agree on remembering 2 things very distinctively; love, and Kromer.

As I’ve mentioned, my dad worked construction, and had been doing so since he was 21. Everyday once the weather turned chilly, my dad left the house in a flannel shirt, a pair of Carhartts, and the Kromer he’s had since the beginning of time. No need for more than one, h¬e says, as they last your whole life. A Kromer is the one and only hat my dad ever wears. He wears it hunting, fishing, skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, errand running, driveway plowing, and anything else that he’s doing outside in the cold. My Dad has influenced many in their purchase of Kromers, including my boyfriend Sam whom, didn’t follow his “you only need one rule.”

I swear, he just gets cuter and more loving every year. If he isn’t doing something outside, he is visiting us kids, playing with his grandkids, or has his arm around his wife of 33 years. He loves twitter and self describes himself as a “Builder, Hunter, Fisherman, Outdoorsman, Sports Enthusiast, Proud Gramps, Pops & Gruncle,” but I can assure you, he is much more than that.

Charity: Habitat for Humanity

Hometown: Iron River, WI

Now THIS is Legendary.

“In November of 2012, Michigan’s Governor Snyder proposed a 924 mile trail that starts at Belle Isle in downtown Detroit and traverses the entire state, across the Upper Peninsula to the Wisconsin border. I intend to be the first to thru-hike this trail. My name is Chris Hillier but other hikers call me Wolverine.”

So begins Chris Hillier’s blog.  The staff at SK Headquarters – and a whole lot of other folks in the Ironwood area – had the honor of meeting this fine fellow at the conclusion of his ambitious hike this week.

After 11 weeks traversing the fine state of Michigan, sleeping in tents and surviving what might be the buggiest summer on record in the Upper Peninsula, Chris arrived in Ironwood yesterday afternoon.  His arrival happened to coincide with Festival Ironwood, which gave our community all the more reason to celebrate with him.  Rumor has it that large amounts of food were consumed…

Today, he came to see Kromer caps being made and add his name to our legendary wall.

As it turns out, Chris had his own Stormy Kromer story to share with us.  He recalled being given a hunter green cap by his big brother – a sign in his family that he was now considered a man.  A real honor.  He treasured his cap for years, and through a series of unfortunate circumstances, he lost his cap during a hike somewhere in Pennsylvania.

We were happy to replace it for him.  Cheers, Chris!  You’re a legend in our book.

A father, a daughter, a Kromer: it’s a little bit more than a Father’s Day gift.

When other kids had to go to Disney World, a young Amanda Dinkel got to go to the U.P.

She grew up in Gladwin, Michigan, smack in the middle of the lower peninsula, with two older brothers and parents who loved the outdoors. Her father, Larry, who spent his days as an engineer, spent his life as a hunter and fisherman, and he often brought his kids out onto Superior or Huron for hours on end.

“We loved the outdoors, too, but he’d drag us on that boat, and we thought it was torture,” said Amanda, a middle-school reading teacher in Caro, Michigan, just an hour or so from her hometown. “We’d tell him ‘No, don’t take us. We’re gonna die!’”

Long days on a boat can be tough for any kid, but after her college graduation, Amanda set a goal for herself: to learn something her dad really loves and to have him teach her.

“I’m a girly-girl, but I wanted to connect with my dad. Fishing and hunting was a way to do that.”

It was on one of those trips—a venture to Larry’s favorite bear-hunting hideaway near the Keweenaw—when Amanda and her dad really found something to bond them.

“We stopped in Brevort for some smoked fish, and they had a whole selection of Kromer caps,” added Amanda. “I squealed! I’d been following Stormy Kromer on Facebook for a couple years, but this was the first I’d seen them. I was so excited. I got myself a Petal Pusher, hopped back in the car, and my dad said ‘Well, what did you get?’

“Naturally, being from Michigan, being an outdoorsman, he knew everything about Stormy Kromer—the caps, the gear, the history. There isn’t always a lot to talk about on that eight-hour stretch of road, but we now had Stormy Kromer in common. He just kept saying they were so cool.”

It wasn’t too long after that when Amanda ordered her father an Original in charcoal wool.

“My father is pretty simple in his wants and needs, so he isn’t always easy to shop for. But now there’s no question what to get him,” added Amanda. “I want to thank the people at Stormy Kromer for giving me an opportunity to bond with my dad. Kromer is our connection, and it’s authentic, through and through.”

Authentic. Just like Amanda and her dad.

Do you have a great Kromer Dad story to share??