[BLU 32, Fargo]
Story by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by M.Schleif Photograph
Welcome to DRUTHERS, South Fargo's newest hot spot at Blu 32. While the neighboring Shoppes at Blu Water Creek have the ladies covered, DRUTHERS has opened its doors catering to men in search of style. Owner, Holly Kraft, brings an extensive background in retail and men's boutique clothing, offering casual, everyday apparel with a focus on style, fit, soft fabrics and sustainability. This month, we'll take you inside DRUTHERS' sleek, new storefront just in time for Father's Day!
Holly Kraft has been in retail her whole life, but she, like many others, had a few unexpected challenges. She never imagined having to navigate a new store during a pandemic, but this is where her expertise has paid off. She graduated from NDSU with a BS in Apparel and Textiles - Retail Merchandising, then gained experience in the small businesses a.k.a. and Straus Clothing, corporate offices and now DRUTHERS.
"I really felt there was a need for a locally-owned men’s clothing store offering more casual, everyday items. I love everything about small, locally owned businesses! I loved working in and buying men’s fashion, the connections you gain with customers and co-workers, and how directly involved you can be with the community," said Kraft. "My experience as a Senior Business Analyst for Vanity prepared me for the more detailed, mathematical, and forecasting sides of retail, so I'm able to carry those buying and financial planning skills to this new adventure.
The name DRUTHERS is derived from her store's purpose and a connection to the past. "I really wanted the name to reflect the meaning of being our customer's first choice, or preferred store for all of their men’s apparel needs," said Kraft. Eventually, Kraft came across the term 'druthers'; a contraction that was used in the late 1800s and early 1900 derived from two words, would and rather. "It was used as, 'If I had my druthers, I’d only shop here.' I felt an immediate connection and knew it had to be the name."
As the backdrop for her carefully curated lines, Kraft has created an inviting shopping experience for men and women. "The design for the store leans more masculine with touches of femininity that resulted in a simple, classic farmhouse design," said Kraft. "I loved the rich detail that black doors add to an otherwise stark white concept. I wanted to keep the floors, tables, and shelves a more natural raw wood tone which would allow them to be a feature against the black and white of the surrounding space."
The clothing wall fixtures, shelves, tables, and standing racks were all built by Kraft's husband, Chris. "We worked together to really create my own look that would set DRUTHERS apart. I found inspiration from pictures and came up with a vision, then we went back and forth to develop exactly what I had in mind," said Kraft. "Chris would make the prototype and we would tweak from there. He did a great job and I’m proud of what we’ve put into the store's details."
Catering to Comfort
At DRUTHERS you'll find an array of casual, everyday apparel that focuses on style, fit, soft fabrics and sustainability. "Our clothing is a broad assortment of classic basics, stylish pieces that can be dressed up or down, and comfortable items that can be worn on a lazy day. The denim and pants are so soft and comfortable, you’ll swear you’re wearing sweats," said Kraft. Whether you're adding to your graphic tee collection or looking for fresh date night apparel, DRUTHERS caters to every man's style.
Sustainable Goods + Ethical Practices
During Kraft's search for the perfect brands, she made sure to include many sustainable lines and local vendors. "I love supporting local businesses and buying locally-made products was the perfect way to do that," said Kraft. "Some of our lines use entirely recycled materials or blends in their garments, and quite a few use organic materials. We have brands that work to reduce or recycle their usage of water in wash and dye processes. In addition to those measures, so many of the brands pledged to only work with ethical factories that ensure their workers are treated fairly and paid a liveable wage."
Brands for the Boys
While Kraft loves all DRUTHERS' brands for their own unique qualities, there are a few that truly stand out for sustainability; tentree, United by Blue, Outerknown and Roark. "Sustainability is everything for the brand Outerknown. Ninety percent of the fibers they source are organic, recycled or regenerated," explained Kraft. "Also, through Fair Trade USA, Outerknown invests in the livelihoods of over 5,000 workers who bring their vision to life."
Roark also provides impressive sustainable qualities that include on-boarding Fair Trade factories. "Thirty percent of the materials used are recycled and sustainable, and for every Fair Trade Certified product sold, Roark pays an additional premium directly back to the workers who made their clothes," said Kraft.
Another line, tentree, supports the environment by planting 10 trees in countries all over the world for each item purchased. "By the year 2030, they have a goal of planting one billion trees, and so far they've planted over 42 million," said Kraft. "They are committed to sourcing the most eco-friendly materials while maintaining the softest hand in their products."
United by Blue is committed to making a tangible impact on cleaning the ocean by removing trash from waterways. "They clean one pound of trash out of the earth’s waterways for each item sold," said Kraft. "They also prioritize sustainable materials and ethical manufacturing."
"All four brands are so comfortable, and they've worked hard to keep their price points moderate so shopping them won’t break the bank," said Kraft. "We have so many other brands that also practice sustainability and I love that I get to introduce these brands to the F-M community. I want men to enjoy their experience here, but I also want women to come in and shop with us - we'd love to help them find those perfect items!"
Shop Blu 32
Kraft was already familiar with The Shoppes at Blu Water Creek, so she immediately recognized the value of its new neighbor, Blu 32. With high visibility and easy access from 45th Street and 32nd Avenue, the close-knit storefronts are a growing hot spot for unique boutiques. "The Blu 32 building is easy to access from all directions and there's plenty of room for front door parking. There are still a few open spaces in the building and that was an exciting prospect to be a part of the growth of this area, and be able to support another business in their opening journey."
Styled for Safe Shopping
While they were originally scheduled to launch in late March, DRUTHERS was finally able to open last month, with safety and strict sanitation measures firmly in place. "I worked really hard to develop preventative protocols for employees, a COVID-19 response policy, and ensure I had the necessary supplies to safely open my doors to the public in compliance with both N.D. Restart and CDC guidelines," said Kraft. "As long as the CDC recommends, we will also encourage our customers to wear a mask while shopping and will restrict our capacity to 10 people in the store at any time, employees included."
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