Minnesota | A Continuous Lean.

Sneak Peek | Red Wing Shoe Co. AW11

Jan 16th, 2011 | Categories: Factory Tour, Footwear, Made in the USA, Minnesota | by Michael Williams

It is that time of year when the real anticipation starts to take hold, anticipation for stuff that doesn’t come out for months. To that end, allow me to introduce to you to some nice looking (“tasty” as my buddy Mr. Aaron Levine would say) boots from the Red Wing North America AW11 collection. Just a little sneak peek of what’s to come.

Red Wing 8881 in Olive Mohave

Red Wing 8881 in Olive Mohave

Red Wing 8881 in Olive Mohave

Great American Burger Tour | King’s Place

Nov 10th, 2010 | Categories: Burger Tour, Food, Middle West, Minnesota | by Michael Williams

The quest for the ultimate American burger mandated a stop at King’s Place in Miesville, Minnesota a wonderful destination for burger enjoyment. King’s Place is a classic Midwestern bar and grill situated amongst the corn fields of Minnesota. While the burgers aren’t huge (in fact they are quite manageable) the variety is overwhelmingly awesome. King’s offers 53 different burger varietals including everything from bacon to mayo to avocado to peanut butter — everything you could ever want. Some of the more exotic menu options have a note next to them where the folks at King’s nudge you to “trust us” and go for it. After my visit, that is definitely the play at King’s. Get one safe burger and one adventurous option that you won’t have anywhere else. Wash em down with a Mr. Pibb (no Dr. Pepper) or a couple of cold ones and you are all set. Long live King’s Place and long live the great American burger.

Carryalls from Canoe Country

Aug 31st, 2010 | Categories: Bags, Minnesota | by Michael Williams

Recently I purchased a bag from Frost River in Duluth, Minnesota. When the bag arrived I was pleasantly surprised how nice it was, though it was a bit larger than I had anticipated. I emailed the company and very painlessly exchanged the original bag for a slightly smaller option. As expected, the folks at Frost River couldn’t have been more nice, which seems to be a common thread amongst Minnesotans.

It does seem that some Frost River offerings are similar in shape and material to other Minnesota bag makers, though Frost River does a great job of differentiating itself with many of its products.  Speaking of, Frost River has a ton of different items in its line. Everything from bicycle panniers to goods for the “cabin” and beyond. I especially like the Waxed Canvas Pistol Rugs and the Ash Baskets.  The company does all of its own sourcing and manufacturing, and offers a great value for money. [Frost River official site + product photos]

Sturdy American Bags from J.W. Hulme

Aug 10th, 2010 | Categories: Bags, Made in the USA, Minnesota | by Michael Williams

One of my favorite bag companies out there is Minnesota’s J.W. Hulme. The company makes classic looking canvas and leather bags, plus a variety of different accessories. It is one of those rare brands that I want one of everything from. I was introduced to the bags years ago, when they supplied carry-alls to Orvis. The two have since gone their separate ways in what I believe to be an amicable split. Either way, it must be water under the bridge at this point. Thankfully J.W. Hulme survived and lives on to supply good looking bags to those who appreciate well made things. Perhaps Orvis and J.W. Hulme can revisit things now that Orvis taking a renewed interest in American make with their U.S. Patent collection. (More on that coming soon.)

The new Sporting Originals canvas bags (the lightly colored ones like the above) are just hitting stores (including select Steven Alan and Barneys stores) now — in case you were wondering. Also, pictured below are some of the company’s SS11 bags (the gray canvas and leather items). It is great to see the brand progress and apparently prosper. There was a recent Wall Street Journal article about how the brand has navigated a tumultuous past few years. It was interesting to see that ACL made it into that piece. It also makes me proud to know change is being made for the positive and people are keeping their jobs. At the end of the day, that is what really matters. Well, that and there are sturdy American-made bags in this world.

Wants & Desires | J.W. Hulme Company

Nov 2nd, 2009 | Categories: Americana, Made in the USA, Minnesota, Wants & Desires | by Michael Williams

Not as omnipresent as Filson bags but just as authentic, J.W. Hulme has been making high quality leather and canvas in Minnesota for over 100 years. The company is probably best known for selling its waspy wares to outdoorsy outfitter Orvis in the late 80s and 90s. Eventually, the relationship with Orvis came to an end, but J.W. Hulme continues to supply nice looking and well made goods in their unique style. It goes without saying that the goods don’t come cheap and that there are companies out there making similar products, but with J.W. Hulme you are paying for high end materials and fabrication. These bags require more of an investment up-front, but I have to think they will literally last a lifetime. If I were you I would start breaking one in now, your son will thank you.

American Heritage Leather Duffle


Canvas Briefcase