2013 story: Hastings apparel company growing fast, going retail
Chances are, you’ve never heard of Storm Creek apparel.
By 2006, though, Jackson grew tired of cutting corners. He was designing clothes for other firms and it seemed that the only concern they had was the bottom line. That’s when he launched Storm Creek.
“I got fed up with trying to make things on the cheap,” he said. “It was all based on price. I wanted to make stuff that works.”
Between 2006 and 2012, Storm Creek remained a little-known brand at retailers, even though it was thriving on the wholesale market. That’s now changing. Storm Creek is making major inroads at retailers across the country.
Jackson now has 10 employees at his Hastings office at 624 Spiral Blvd., including five he hired this year alone. New retailers are signing up to carry his products all the time. Most of the retailers having success right now are in Washington, Oregon and Colorado, but area businesses have started stocking the product too, including the Duluth Trading Company.
All of the clothes are designed in Hastings. They are manufactured overseas.
Jackson grew up in Welch and graduated from Red Wing High School. He loved the outdoors and ended up working as a stock broker in Aspen, Colo.
His wife at the time was working for a skiwear company, too.
He was transferred to Edina but suddenly decided to end his career as a stockbroker.
“One day, I was just like, ‘I don’t like this anymore,’” he said.
Jackson called his wife’s former employer and asked to go to work for him as a sale representative. He quickly moved up, earning a position as a sales manager. Before he knew it, he got involved in product selection.
“That was heaven for me,” he said. “I had so much fun doing that.”
Jackson was then hired by High Sierra to do similar work for them in Chicago.
After his first daughter was born, though, he came to a harsh realization one night. His wife said to him, “You are gone 85 percent of the time.”
Jackson laughed it off, thinking there was no way that was true. They got out his calendar, and he realized it was in fact true. The next day, he gave notice at his job and moved back to Minnesota six months later.
That was 1995, and that’s when he went into business for himself.
Storm Creek clothes are meant to allow customers to enjoy the outdoors without breaking the bank. Most products are priced 30 to 40 percent below the big names in outdoor clothing, even though they are just as good, Jackson said. He showed a long-sleeve running shirt that is moisture-wicking, UV-resistant and antimicrobial. It has thumb holes, cuffs to cover hands on especially cold days and reflective surfaces to keep nighttime runners safe. The MSRP on the shirt is $40, a far cry from similar products that are typically in the $60 to $80 range.
He shared the results of a blind test done by one buyer at her store. She told him she covered the logos of Storm Creek clothes, then found comparable products from some of the big names in outdoor clothing and she covered their logos, too. All the tags were cut out.
In the four products she tested, Storm Creek was picked as the favorite by her consumers. She then followed that test up with a big order, he said.
Jackson is able to keep prices low for two reasons, he said. He doesn’t spend tens of millions of dollars a year on marketing, and he works continuously to get the best price from textiles manufacturers.
“I spend a lot of time overseas, and I shop hard,” he said.
Three years ago, Jackson bought the building at 624 Spiral Blvd. in Hastings.
He said he desperately wanted the large warehouse for his business, but as it turns out, he didn’t get much of that warehouse for long. He rented out much of the building to the Highway 61 bridge contractors, Lunda/Ames.
They’re now winding down and Jackson is moving in to more of the building.
When Storm Creek designs its products, samples are always sent from the factories. Those samples have been piling up for years, and now the firm has come up with a way to both liquidate its inventory and help the Hastings community.
Storm Creek is opening its doors for retail sales for the first time in Hastings on Friday, Nov. 29, and Saturday, Nov. 30. A portion of the proceeds from the sales will be donated to Hastings Family Service and the Hastings Hockey Boosters.
The sale runs from noon until 4 p.m. on Nov. 29 and from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Nov. 30.
Available for purchase will be jackets, outerwear, activewear, fleece tops and a $3 fleece blanket.
Much of the merchandise ranges in price from $5 to $10. Much of it is 50 percent off the MSRP, Jackson said. Storm Creek is located in the industrial park at 624 Spiral Blvd.