The rebirth of downtown Owatonna continues as Graif Clothing officially opened to the public on Monday.
With its main store located in Mankato, Graif specializes in men’s clothing as well as tuxedo rentals, but also offers contemporary casual wear for women. After a successful open house to introduce themselves to the community, owner Marissa Bostrom and manager Maddie Strable said they were delighted to call Owatonna their second home.
As soon as we announced we were going to Owatonna, things got crazy in Mankato, Strable said. Everyone from Owatonna was going there because they wanted to see what was going to happen in town.
Many Owatonnais, however, were already familiar with Graif as the go-to option for men’s clothing. Bostrom said this was largely linked to the stores’ long-standing relationship with Greg Krueger, the owner of the former St. Clair for Men, which closed in 2015 after 125 years in the business. Owatonna town center.
The former owner of Graif also had a wholesale men’s sportswear business, so I had bought a lot from him and we had known each other for a long time, Krueger said. When we sold [St. Clairs] we started sending people there because their lines were similar to what we were carrying and we knew they were in customer service the same way we were. I just thought it was a good choice for my clients.
Closing his business was a tough decision to make, and Krueger admits that since shutting down his business he’s been wondering if another independent men’s store will ever come to Owatonna. Once he found out that not only was one person coming, but that it was Graif, he couldn’t have been happier.
I’m so happy that the one to come is one that shares the same value and concept for their customers as we do, Krueger said, adding that he called Bostrom to find out more about the new owner of the business to which he had been sending clients for six years. years.
We finally met for the first time a few weeks ago when we came and saw the space, Bostrom said. He has been such a great advocate for us for so many years and the reason we already have a recognized and strong Owatonna client base, it was just a very warm and loving first meeting. He got some great advice for us and it’s just huge support from our business that we owe him so much.
Bostrom said that when she first bought the business in 2019, she never imagined it would open a second location. However, she always knew that if a second location was an option, it would have to be in Owatonna.
We had always had the idea of having some sort of physical presence in Owatonna, but time never really allowed us to explore what that would look like, Bostrom said. When we were closed last year due to COVID-19, I finally had the time.
Bostrom said they initially considered opening a pop-up location in Owatonna for a few months before the holidays, but when the 202 Bridge Street building became available last summer through Redline Development Group made up of Darrien Stadheim of Stadheim Properties and Scott Mohs of Mohs Contracting’s plans have changed rapidly.
The complete redevelopment of the building that had been vacant for over a decade housing a furniture rental business, the entire first floor of the building is the Graif clothing store. The second floor will include offices for rent as well as shared common areas such as break and meeting rooms.
Krueger said his visit to the store before their grand opening left him feeling even more confident in the new downtown business.
I love the look of the interior and am really happy for the locals, especially the clients we have who can now stay in town and support local businesses, Krueger said. The Graif team is community oriented, House oriented and really wants to get involved with Owatonna. They will integrate very well into the city center.