Local shoppers seeking Pendleton blankets and sweaters won't have to peruse catalogs, go online or drive for hours this holiday season.
Pendleton Woolen Mills will open a new store at Rogue Valley Mall Dec. 1 in the former Coldwater Creek location next to Chico's.
The Medford location will be Portland-based Pendleton's 30th retail store in 17 states. The 3,037-square-foot store will be the sixth in Oregon, joining five in the Portland area. The privately held company operates 27 outlet stores in 16 states, including six in Oregon at Bend, Lincoln City, Pendleton, Seaside, Troutdale and Woodburn.
"Southern Oregon is a great market and Pendleton has a number of good accounts there, but the overall market is underserved," said Pendleton spokesperson Linda Parker. "We have had our eye on Southern Oregon for a while and have waited for all of the business considerations to come together for best timing. With the recent completion of a company-wide brand project, we felt the time was right to further extend the Pendleton brand to this market."
The sixth-generation firms' roots go back to 1863, where founder Thomas Kay helped organize the state's second woolen mill in Brownsville before opening his own mill in Salem. Daughter Fannie's 1876 marriage to businessman C.P. Bishop laid the foundation of combined production and retail expertise. In 1909, their sons acquired an idled woolen mill in Pendleton, where the company's iconic Native American trade blankets are woven. Three years later, they acquired their weaving mill in Washougal, Washington.
In 1924, Pendleton introduced its virgin-wool men's shirt, and five years later the company created a full line of men's sportswear. In 1949, Pendleton added women's apparel to its repertoire.
The post-Black Friday opening will give mall shoppers a new alternative, while adding to an array of outdoorwear options that range from Sportsman's Warehouse and Northwest Outdoor Store to REI, Field & Stream and Blackbird.
"The brand equity Pendleton brings to the market is really something special," said Joan McBee, School of Business chair at Southern Oregon University. "When you talk wool blankets, Pendleton is the first name that comes up."
On a trip to the coast, McBee and her friends visited a Pendleton outlet store in Lincoln City.
"Two of them bought presents there," she said. "It was a preferred product."
The upscale products come at a higher price.
"Pendleton tends to cater to men and women 30 on up, who are more affluent," McBee said. "Just by looking at their products, they're more professional. They're the kind things you pass down from generation to generation."
The professor, however, questioned whether Pendleton meshed with the trending mix of retailers at the mall.
"When you look at the mall, you see rue21, Forever 21, expanded Victoria's Secret and a huge PINK line — all catering to a younger clientele. Is Pendleton going for the mothers of all these people? It seems like Pendleton would have made more sense going in by Field & Stream."
— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.