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Askov Finlayson's New Minneapolis Flagship

An expansive, beautiful store representing the aesthetic values of its home region

by David Graver
on 28 August 2015

There's been an almost unprecedented expansion to Minneapolis men's boutique Askov Finlayson since their 2011 launch. And the latest milestone for a hot-spot sporting the best local, made-in-America and hand-selected global products happens to be an epic new flagship store. Laying adjacent to their previous home, in the revitalized North Loop neighborhood of the city, the store is nearly double the size of their initial space, and the grandeur rests in all of the details. Founders Eric and Andrew Dayton partnered with architectural firm James Dayton Design and from RO/LU furniture to brass accents on the wood flooring, nothing has been left unconsidered—especially the array of products (and the first Warby Parker showroom in the entire region).

This new space clearly reflects the aesthetic values of the brand. As founder Eric Dayton explains to CH, "It's been almost four years since we first opened Askov Finlayson in a small room adjacent to our restaurant, The Bachelor Farmer. And then, two years ago, we introduced our very first product under the Askov Finlayson label. So we've had a lot of time to think about what we wanted this new space to be, and how we wanted to represent our brand as a physical environment." He acknowledges that their first store was humble, and that was something they wished to carry forward while elevating the experience. He continues, "Since we reopened, we've been hearing from a lot of our longtime customers that while they're excited about everything that's new and improved, the store still seems familiar to them, which is perfect."

Of equal importance, Askov Finlayson has contributed to a cultural resurgence in Minnesota, and a shift in regional representation. No longer the midwest, they're distinctly the north. "What we're doing is just one small example of the incredible creativity that Minneapolis and our region have to offer. And we certainly weren't the first, but I think the cumulative effect is that people from other parts of the country are starting to hear about Minneapolis more and more in national conversations about food, design, art and style," Dayton explains.

250 square feet within the new space have been dedicated to a Warby Parker showroom. From an appreciation for the brand to shared sensibilities, Dayton found them to be an ideal fit. "We talked early on about working together to bring Warby Parker to Minneapolis, but our previous store was so small that we just didn't have any space to offer for a showroom. Then, about a year ago, Neil Blumenthal reached back out and we were just starting to plan our move and expansion, so the timing was finally right." The Warby Parker room is well-integrated with the rest of the store, a cohesive piece in an active, yet well-designed space.

And again, details define the true dedication to the space. As Dayton shares, "One of my favorite details, which came out of a conversation with our architects, was the brass detailing in the floor. We put in white oak herringbone floors and we were talking about potentially doing a brass inlay trim around the perimeter." It was a traditional element, that they wished to incorporate in a more forward-thinking way. "The result is that there are small brass inlays randomly scattered throughout the herringbone pattern—just little pops here and there. Many people don't even notice them, but those who do smile."

The space also plays host to some magical ephemera on the walls and floors. "We have the parka that legendary Arctic explorer Will Steger wore on his historic 1990 Trans-Antarctica Expedition. Will is a close friend of mine and I was part of a team he led on a six-month, 2,000-mile expedition across Arctic Canada in 2004," Dayton shares. "We also have a 32-star US flag that dates back to the short 1858/'59 window when Minnesota was the 32nd and most recent state in the union. I found a guy who specializes in historic American flags, but he said he rarely came across 32-star flags because they were made for such a brief period. And then a week before we opened he called me to see if I was still interested, because he'd found one. The timing was incredible."

Of course, the products within the store matter a great deal. While Dayton hesitates to pick a favorite, he notes excitement for their collaboration with Frost River. "They're a fellow Minnesota company and we've carried their bags for a long time, but they only ever made their products in one signature color of canvas: Field Tan. We asked them if they'd be willing to introduce additional colors, which they'd never done before, knowing it was a long shot. But they agreed and created their most popular bags and accessories in three colors—Forest Green, Navy, and Medium Grey—just for us." Askov Finlayson, as a brand, will be expanding their namesake products, as well. "We've been spending a lot of time and energy on product research, development, and testing," Dayton says, "So I'm really excited to share the results of those efforts in the next month."

The new Askov Finlayson flagship store is located at 204 North 1st Street, Minneapolis. It's open Monday through Saturday from 11AM to 7PM, and 10AM to 5PM on Sundays.

Images courtesy of Askov Finlayson

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