Name: Karl Kalgren
Job Title: Retail Store Manager in Åre
From: From a small town called Sveg in Sweden
Favorite outdoor activity: Off-piste skiing. “I always say my mom had a rough birth because I came out with skis on.”
So Karl, how long have you been working with Norrøna?
Hmm, it’s not easy to remember. It’s been four years in Åre. I started in 2017. I began in our now closed Norrøna Outlet in Stockholm. Then I moved to the outlet store in Landquart, Switzerland, before moving on to Åre.
How did you get the job?
I just applied because I didn’t know what to do in between seasons. I’ve been a ski instructor for 22 seasons now. I had no previous retail experience, but I liked the brand.
You spend your days in-store working the floor, but you have a special role don’t you? Can you give us some details?
I am Store Manager and also a member of the extreme user development program, which means I get to try out clothes and give feedback for upcoming seasons. Mainly skiing and biking products.
It’s incredible fun, and it’s such an insight about the product you’ll eventually sell. Knowing how a product works and performs makes it so easy to share with our customers. It’s also cool to tell the customer about this program and that I am a part of it.
I am also one of the few stores that chooses the entire collection myself which is great fun.
What is your all-time favorite Norrøna product?
Wow, there are so many. But the product I use the most is the tamok wool shirt. I use it for everything. Dinner, skiing, going to work. Everything!
Which tech material are you most interested in letting a customer know about?
Up here in Åre it’s all about Gore-Tex. It’s fun to explain to the customer how the different Gore technologies work.
In your eyes, what is going to make a new retail employee succeed?
I think that they really have to want it. The love of the work. They like to meet new people.
Even though I am a Store Manager, I’ve only hired four people since I began at this location. We’re a small tight-knit crew of four made up of people who really like their job and want to stay. Three of the four are also ski instructors, and two of them have been here longer than myself.
How often do you encounter a “Norrøna newbie”?
Oh, everyday. Norrøna recognition is not super high. We’re in a very touristy area. I’d say we’re telling Norrøna’s story at least once a day.
Brand recognition has skyrocketed since I started working here four years ago, but there is still a lot of growth to be done here in Sweden.
What’s the most common question you get from customers?
This question is challenging. It depends so much on the season and what time of the year it is.
After nearly 7 years of working with Norrøna, do you still get excited about new products?
Oh of course. It’s like Christmas around here when the new products you have tested and previewed on the website have been delivered.
All Norrøna stores accept products to be sent in for repair if it is needed. Do you have any cool repair stories from customers you would like to share?
We get a lot of repairs, people out here skiing everyday and they break their pants and so on. We usually send them to Åse in Stockholm. But we do simple repairs in the store, like changing the slider on a jacket. The other day, a man walked in with a busted zipper on his jacket fully ready to purchase a new one. I asked him if I could take a look, and while he browsed for a new jacket, I fixed his zipper within five minutes. It’s cool to see the customers’ reactions when that happens. They are both grateful and confused like “why do this if you knew I was about to purchase a new one?” Because I can.