What: Askov Finlayson
Where: 200 N. First St., Minneapolis
When it comes to shopping local in Minneapolis, women have a world of opportunity. Men, on the other hand, not so much. Menswear retail in the Twin Cities has a tendency to be singular. The few boutiques that do exist cater to a limiting aesthetic (high fashion and exorbitantly priced labels). Meaning, there’s not much middle ground for dudes that don’t necessarily identify as “fashionistos” but still want to flaunt their outfits.
This has all changed with the recent opening of the new North Loop boutique Askov Finlayson.. And we have our Gov. Mark Dayton to thank for it (he fathered the two creators Andrew and Eric).
Andrew, 28, and Eric, 31, Dayton’s schooling primed them for careers far outside the realm of hospitality or retail. Andrew thought he might turn his law degree into a prosecution career and Eric was slated to take onthe corporate business world. However, in 2008, a somewhat non-traditional impulse investment (an enormous and historic brick and timber warehouse) precipitated an entrepreneurial journey that would produce a restaurant (the Bachelor Farmer), a bar (Marvel Bar) and finally the last piece to their ambitions, Askov Finlayson.
“We bought the building without real plans,” Andrew said. “It was a canvas for us and what we were going to do together. We saw an opportunity in the realm of vibrant retail and thought that the space, with big open windows would be ideal for a store.”
The store —charmingly named after a familiar intersection from childhood trips to their family’s Lake Vermilion cabin — carries a diverse array of products, but with a clear emphasis on the menswear. Though the brands are respected, the Daytons are clear about the first and foremost importance of their product which, for the record, they hand-picked entirely.
“We had an idea of some of the stuff we wanted to carry that wasn’t available in the Twin Cities,” Eric Dayton said. “We have trouble pinning down what our look is but it’s mainly concerned with quality and structure. You have to get dressed in the morning and if you’re going to get dressed, it might as well be in something quality.”
This transfers into a lot of Minnesota-friendly gear like flannels, quilted jackets and sturdy, wool outerwear. Most of the merchandise looks perfectly fitted to the woodsy visual aesthetic of the space. The brothers are especially proud of conducting the interior design-work themselves. Additionally, there are miscellaneous gift items for sale as well, such as pillows, umbrellas and a limited amount of women’s wear, though in the future they plan to expand their offerings to females.
Spending nearly seven days a week splitting time among their three businesses, one would think the brothers might feel a little overwhelmed or burnt out, but things seem pretty calm.
“It would have been ambitious to tackle any one of these projects,” Andrew Dayton said. “We’ve definitely got our hands full, but it’s the people, our staff. Our role is more top down and they all really excel at their individual areas.”
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