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Duluth Pack and Duluth Trading Co. — similar names, different businesses

Duluth Pack has been in Duluth since 1882. Despite that, company officials say people confuse Duluth Pack with the Duluth Trading Co. (Steve Kuchera / / 3
The Duluth Pack retail store at 365 Canal Park Drive offers clothes and other merchandise for outdoor activities, along with its packs handcrafted in Duluth. (Steve Kuchera / 2 / 3
Duluth Pack sales associate Henry French talks to customer Chelle Stoner about the store’s packs on Wednesday afternoon. (Steve Kuchera / / 3

People have been confusing Duluth Pack with the Duluth Trading Co. for years.

Duluth Pack’s Canal Park store often gets calls from people looking for Duluth Trading Co.’s Ballroom Jeans with the “crouch without the ouch” or the Buck Naked underwear that “feels like wearing nothing at all.”

“They come in, they just see the Duluth part of the name,” said Tom Sega, Duluth Pack president. “They think we are one and the same. We get people saying, where are your long shirts and gusseted jeans? And people go to their store and say, where are their duffels?”

 Some try to return or exchange Duluth Trading Co. merchandise at the Duluth Pack store. Sometimes they even argue, insisting the items are from Duluth Pack.

 “They say, we love your commercials, that brings them into the store,” added Molly Solberg, Duluth Pack’s director of sales and marketing.

The only problem is, they’re talking about Duluth Trading Co.’s humorous commercials for products like Longtail T-shirts that prevent “plumber’s butt” or women’s Asset Management Jeans.

With the May opening of Duluth Trading Co. store in downtown Duluth, the mix-up continues.

 “Some people call and think we’re Duluth Pack,” Store Manager Mead Bradley said. “We get that sometimes because of the name.”

But it’s rare, he said, for people to come in looking for Duluth Pack bags, he said. Duluth Trading Co. carries its own line of bags.

Becky Vierling of Prior Lake, Minn., didn’t know the difference when she walked into Duluth Trading Co. downtown store last week. Driving into Duluth with her husband and daughter, a billboard for Duluth Trading Co. had caught their attention

“We were staying in town and thought we’d walk over because we get the catalogs,” Vierling said.

They already had been at the Duluth Pack store in Canal Park and still were confused.

But Duluth Pack President Tom Sega says there’s no battle royal between the two businesses.

“Actually we welcome them,” Sega said. “This can only help this area from a business standpoint. From the perspective of a small business, the more traffic the better for business.”

 He sees the confusion as an opportunity to educate customers on their differences.

 “We don’t consider this, nor do the people at Duluth Trading, consider this a negative,” he said. “We know there’s confusion because our names are close. We both internally within our own companies made the decision it’s our job to educate the customer on what the difference is and use that to both our benefits.”

Duluth Pack is an outdoor experience store with company-made handcrafted packs as well as offering outdoor clothing and gear. Duluth Trading Co. sells durable clothing for tradesmen, do-it-yourselfers and women, along with accessories. Duluth Pack has been based in Duluth for 132 years. Duluth Trading Co. started in Duluth about 30 years ago but now is based in Belleville, Wis.

Count Jeffrey K. Johnson of Minneapolis among those who’s not confused.

An avid outdoorsman and frequent visitor to Duluth, Johnson said he had been buying most of his clothes at the Duluth Pack store. But he’s also a big fan of the Duluth Trading Co. So from now on, he says he’ll also shop there when he comes to Duluth.

“The quality of materials in Duluth is legendary,” he said.

After a week of camping in the Boundary Waters, Johnson stopped at the Duluth Trading Co. store on Wednesday for the first time. He spent $170 there after spending $100 at Duluth Pack.

“This is amazing,” he said as he eagerly tried on a black canvas jacket at Duluth Trading Co. “I need clothes I can wear for business meetings and for a mix of outdoor activities.”

Both Duluth Pack and Duluth Trading Co. offer rugged, long-lasting clothing, he said.

“And I don’t’ think you should put the name ‘Duluth’ on anything, unless it is rugged and built to last,” he said.