Apparel company gets creative for warehouse sale
By: Andy Rogers, SUN THISWEEK, DAKOTA COUNTY TRIBUNE
Storm Creek has had a challenging year. The apparel company moved its headquarters to Eagan and got ready for its eighth annual Warehouse Sale all amid a pandemic in 2020.
The eco-friendly outdoor-inspired apparel company got its start in 2006 in Hastings making clothing for other branded companies before leasing warehouse space in Eagan in 2016.
“(Eagan) was our backup warehouse,” Teresa Fudenberg, CEO of Storm Creek said. “It was our way to test moving here full time.”
Eagan passed the test. Storm Creek officially relocated its corporate office from Hastings to Eagan in June. Sales, marketing, product design, customer service, accounting and purchasing are all done in Eagan. It’s much closer commute for its employees.
“It was a two-hour drive for some people in bad weather,” Fudenberg said. “It also allows us to pull from a larger talent base.”
It’s also easier for clients to test out products.
“The majority of our business is (business to business,)” Fudenberg said. “If your organization wants branded jackets or hats, that’s us. Distributors can stop in and see a sample at our showroom right here.”
Storm Creek makes the branded clothing for dozens of businesses including Welch Village, Superior Shores Resort, Vail Resorts, Jaxson Grey and beyond.
Every year the company opens its warehouse to sell directly to customers and help raise money for local charities. With COVID-19, they had to get creative by boxing up a few surprises.
This year’s sale is in the Eagan warehouse location at 915 Blue Gentian Road off I-494 and Dodd Road. In-person shopping is from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Dec 4, 11 and 18. Customers are encouraged to make reservations.
“It’s just like a restaurant,” Fudenberg said. “If it’s busy, you may have to wait a little bit if you don’t have a reservation.”
They let 15-20 people in at a time to shop down the one-way isles of the warehouse.
“We’ve gotten so much feedback, we might have to figure out how to do it in a pop-up format into 2021,” Fudenberg said.
Like every shopping experience, this year it’s a little different with COVID-19 with social distancing and masks a must.
For those who are not comfortable shopping in-person, Storm Creek offers a virtual personal shopping experience. During a 15-20-minute appointment, customers connect with a shopping assistant via FaceTime, Google Duo or Skype video. The assistant will go through a customer’s prepared shopping list.
“We’ll pull some ideas,” Fudenberg said. “They’ll walk through the aisle of the sale and show them the items via FaceTime. It’s a fun, hybrid way to get creative in this COVID world.”
The idea came to Storm Creek last year before social distancing was the norm.
“We had a warehouse sale in the middle of a snowstorm,” Fudenberg said. “People still wanted to shop, so I thought, let’s get everyone on Face-Time.”
This option requires a $25 booking fee, but 100 percent of the fee goes toward a charity. There are 13 charity partners participating this year including the American Cancer Society, Ronald McDonald House, Save the Boundary Waters, Tee It Up for the Troops, Twin Cities in Motion and more.
Through its Shop for a Cause Program, which provides a portion of the warehouse sale proceeds to 13 Minnesota charities, Storm Creek has a goal of raising $30,000 for charities this year. Some members of the charity volunteer on site.
“We’ve had these two gals from the American Heart Association almost every day,” Fudenberg said. “They’re having so much fun. They’ve been a partner for a while.”
Storm Creek donates 10 percent to customers’ charity of choice for online, virtual and in-person sales. Another creative way to get sell was offering mystery boxes, which are filled with four randomly selected products at a steep discount.
“It’s a great way to introduce yourself to our brand,” Fudenberg said. The clothes may include items from a product line that is low on certain sizes or they’re phasing out a color.
To participate in Shop for a Cause, guests can obtain coupons from partnering charities on Storm Creek’s website at www. stormcreeksale.com.
Andy Rogers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.