When James Stauber and his five brothers decided they wanted to open a sporting goods store in the late 1980s, there seemed no better place than their hometown of Duluth.
Born and raised in the hockey-loving town, the Stauber brothers all spent much of their childhood on the ice. They all went on to coach at the youth, high school or college levels, and opened the doors of Stauber Brothers on April 1, 1990.
After a remodel and name change in 2015 to Duluth Hockey Company, they’re approaching their 28th year in the family retail business. The building’s appearance has transformed, but the brothers’ passion for hockey and loyalty toward their customers is as strong as ever.
MHJ: You've been involved in hockey your entire life. What are some of your favorite hockey memories?
James Stauber: Honestly, I think my fondest memories are the ones of coaching my own children. Through them and because of them, I was able to coach hockey at every level of play from Mini-Mites to college. To be able to mentor them and their friends was an opportunity of a lifetime. To build lifetime friendships with families and their children is priceless.
MHJ: How do you think having those hockey connections helps you run a business and better understand your customers?
Stauber: Our business strives on meeting the very unique needs of our hockey families, friends and organizations. The connections and friendship we have, coupled with our own playing and coaching experiences, foster a very unique customer service-oriented business. Our hockey community is fairly small, but yet large enough for us to be doing business with customers as far away as Japan, Sweden, Australia and Germany.
MHJ: How rewarding is it to be born and raised in Duluth, and now own Duluth Hockey Company with five of your brothers in the same community?
Stauber: Not sure you can even describe the pride and passion we feel for Duluth and the surrounding communities in our area. We feel strongly that there is no internet store or online shopping experience that can replace a small homegrown retail store like Duluth Hockey Company. What we do for the hockey community and what the hockey community does for us is a pretty special relationship.
MHJ: After going through an extensive remodel in 2015 and a name change from Stauber Brothers to Duluth Hockey Company, what were some of the biggest changes?
Stauber: I think the biggest change was our mindset. We had to refocus our efforts back to the single sport that started it all back in 1990, which was hockey. Today, we think bigger, we have broader vision, we have greater potential and we provide some of the best products and services the hockey industry has to offer. We’ve taken much greater pride and care to ensure our staff is well trained to take care of our customers.
MHJ: What's been the reaction to your business partnership with UMD Stores and the Minnesota Wild's Hockey Lodge, being the first such partnership outside the Twin Cities metro?
Stauber: Our business relationship with both the Wild's Hockey Lodge and UMD Stores has been a very rewarding venture, in what we feel true partnerships are all about. Together, through a hockey synergy, we help each other brand products and help build awareness of each other’s business entities. To the Stauber family, Minnesota truly is the State of Hockey and there are no better brands and examples of hockey success than the Minnesota Wild, the UMD Bulldogs and the Duluth Hockey Company. What a perfect fit!
MHJ: What makes the hockey community in Minnesota so special?
Stauber: There probably isn't just one thing that makes the Minnesota hockey community special. It’s special because of the people themselves. Hockey families are passionate, dedicated and hard-working. Parents, like my parents, sacrifice for their sons and daughters so they can experience Minnesota's hockey culture. In the end, we all go through it together and we all realize how fortunate we are to live in the State of Hockey. There is no other state like it.