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PARALLEL UNIVERSE: ‘Fun’ Catalogues Make Shopping a Lot Easier

Posted by kinchendavid on November 4, 2006

By David M. Kinchen
Editor, Huntington News Network

Hinton, WV – It’s the Christmas shopping season, to use the old, politically incorrect nomenclature, and your mailbox is crammed with catalogues. It’s not all bad news: Some of the catalogues may just be of the “fun” variety.

Two of my favorites are from Duluth Trading Co. of Belleville, Wisconsin and Sportsman’s Guide of St. Paul, Minnesota. Both catalogues are actually fun to read and you’ll find gifts that appeal to the men in your family. Not that there aren’t gift ideas for women in the catalogues – especially the ones from Sportsman’s Guide – but the accent is distinctly male-oriented for both of them.

Looking for a high-quality, affordable automatic mechanical watch – you know, the kind that doesn’t need batteries, that winds itself while you’re sawing wood, raking leaves or typing out a story on a computer? Duluth Trading has two GI Field Watches, on page 58 of the latest catalogue. The rugged 21-jewel watches are priced at $99.50 for a leather band (it’s waterproof leather) model and 10 bucks more for the stainless steel band one. No need to spend megabucks for a dependable, non-battery watch with these rugged ones from Duluth. They have large luminescent numbers, high-quality stainless steel construction and rugged crystals. If you’re like me, you’d want a watch that needs no batteries, so you can throw out the dead quartz ones filling your desk drawers.

Duluth is famous for long-tail T-shirts and other shirts that eliminate the dreaded plumber’s crack – you know what I’m talking about! They also offer the long-tail feature in construction-grade Henleys that have three inches extra length to eliminate Plumber’s Butt, as they call it. I love Henleys, the collarless shirt developed by crew boat racers in Henley, England, two centuries ago.

Duluth Trading caters to construction workers, including the boss who needs a rugged presentation jacket to go with his khakis or jeans when he’s dealing with the “suits” at the bank or client presentations. Everything imaginable – and a lot of things you can’t imagine come from this treasure in the Madison, WI area.

In the front of the catalogue pictured (Vol. T-26, No. 23) are modern-day renditions of classic games, including Cathedral, Frontier Logs, Fiddlestix and many more. This catalogue takes the prize as the most fun, in my book. Web site: http://www.duluthtrading.com.

* * * *

Gary Olen started Sportsman’s Guide in 1977 and his “fun to read” catalogues are outstanding for their variety of merchandise, much of it geared to hunters and shooters, and values in shoes and boots. I’ve bought a lot of items from Sportsman’s Guide down through the years, especially shoes and war surplus items. One caution: Europeans have a different build than Americans, so make sure the Euro-sized pants and jackets will fit you. Probably the best course of action is to order the biggest size offered, if you’re a six-footer like me. Germans tend to be more like Americans in size than other nationalities.

Women will find many gifts in Sportsman’s Guides, including comforters like the ones on the cover of the catalogue accompanying this story. Olen offers furniture and robes for both men and women, shoes and boots, ditto. He has several specialty catalogues, including one that I receive devoted strictly to military surplus items. I use my surplus Israeli army knapsack for my trips to the shooting range. It’s sized for a couple of handguns, plenty of ammo and my ear protection muffs. Web site: http://www.sportsmansguide.com.

To sum up, Duluth Tradiing is targeted to construction people, while Sportsman’s Guide is for – sportsmen and sportswomen. Both are quality outfits from the Upper Midwest and have friendly telephone people who sound like they’re from Wisconsin or Minnesota – and they are!

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