Duluth Trading Co.

The historic Doerflinger building in downtown La Crosse will be home to a Duluth Trading Co. store in June.

One of downtown La Crosse's anchor storefronts will have a new tenant in June when Duluth Trading Co. opens a clothing store in the Doerflinger Building.

The Belleville, Wis., based clothier announced Monday it plans to open a 10,500-square-foot retail outlet in the historic building at Fourth and Main streets.

"It's going to be a very strong anchor for downtown," said Robin Moses, executive director of Downtown Mainstreet Inc., who helped court the rapidly-growing retailer whose "lifestyle" clothing and quirky marketing campaigns have built a cult following.

Moses said customers travel more than 100 miles to visit other Duluth Trading Co. stores, which she anticipates will be a boon for other downtown businesses.

The store will occupy the building's first floor, including the primary space previously occupied by Three Rivers Outdoors, a locally-owned outdoor outfitter that closed in November after 15 years in the renovated department store.

It will be the company's 10th retail store and its fifth in Wisconsin. The company also maintains stores in Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota.

"This is going to be a game changer," said building owner Mike Keil. "An absolute game changer to have all these people coming to downtown that don't normally come to La Crosse."

The move will displace Studio Fit, which Keil said will move next month to East Ward, the former CenturyTel building he co-owns on East Avenue. Two other retailers, Weddings By Nancy and Angie's Skin Care, will remain in the Doerflinger, along with Michaels Energy and Authenticom, a data management company that occupies the building's upper floors.

The store will employ two salaried and up to six full-time employees plus as many as 28 part-time workers, said district store manager Mark Pickart.

"This will be our fifth downtwon store," Pickart said. "The Doerflinger is a gorgeous building and it should be a great fit for our brand." 

Keil did not disclose the terms of the lease but said Duluth Trading would be making "a significant investment" in the build-out and staffing.

Founded in 1989 in Duluth, Minn., Duluth Trading Co. is rapidly expanding from a mail-order model, and said in a news release that it had sought to establish a storefront in western Wisconsin, "a place where many hardworking men and women call home."

Parent company Duluth Holdings Inc. went public in November, raising $83.7 million. The company posted third quarter net income of $1.5 million on $55.3 million in sales.

Its plans call for "accelerating retail expansion" as well as growing its sales to women.

Built in 1904 to replace an earlier site destroyed by fire, the four-story building at Fourth and Main was home to Doerflinger's, the city's premier department store, for eight decades before Valley View Mall began drawing shoppers to Hwy. 16.

Keil purchased it in 2004 after previous efforts to renovate the landmark had failed.

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