Michigan Grower Featured in Woolson Story in March-April Issue of Onion World Magazine

March 27, 2015

The success of the family that owns and operates Michigan’s largest onion growing and packing business is the subject of Eric Woolson’s March-April 2015 Onion World magazine story, “Doing What They Like Most Pays Off for VanSingels.”


Graif Clothing Announces Move to New Location

March 18, 2015

MANKATO, Minn. — Moving a short way across town is expected to go a long way toward helping Graif Clothing expand both its business and brands, co-owner Randy Appel said today.

The Mankato retail mainstay, which has been located in downtown Mankato for 91 years and in its current location at 5 Civic Center Plaza for approximately seven years, plans to move about a half-mile to 900 N. Riverfront Drive on May 1. The store will host a major sale to reduce its inventory prior to the move.

“We’ll be reducing the inventory to make the move easier and to help make the public aware that we’re going to a new location and we’re going to be in Mankato for many years to come,” Appel said. “We’ve been thinking about this step for about eight months as we look at what we want and need to do to take the business to the next level. It’s an important part of our growth strategy. We see it as a very strategic business move.”

Founded in 1924, Graif Clothing has been a staple for men’s fashion in southern Minnesota. Appel and his daughter, Karissa Baukol, purchased the company nearly three years ago from founder Matt J. Graif’s son-in-law, Gary Kratzke, upon his retirement.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the success and growth of Graif Clothing in the time we’ve have owned it. We’re rebranding the store and visibility is going to be an important part of the process. Our new location at Riverfront and Madison is going to be a very visible corner,” Appel said. “We’re renovating the entire building and it will look very different after its facelift than it does right now. (City officials) are excited about our plans and we’re convinced the public and, especially, our customers will be thrilled with the end result, too. We are thrilled to be working with Brunton Architects and Max DeMars on the construction of our new location.”

In addition to building upon the Graif tradition of selling quality, non-department store brands, Appel and Baukol are working to build the profile of the company’s own wholesale brands of men’s clothing, Fusion and the Jon Randall Collection, along with our women’s brand, Karissa andMe.

“While we have very deep roots in the community, we also want people to know this is not your dad’s Graif Clothing. We’ll continue to have a great, quality selection of both men’s and women’s clothing. We’ll continue to deliver exceptional customer care, but we’re also going to offering new, more trend-conscious lines,” Appel said.

He said the business will maintain its current hours — 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday — during the transition and after the move is complete.”

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Woolson Nominated for Western Publishing Association MAGGIE Award for Best News Story

March 17, 2015

Eric Woolson, president and CEO of The Concept Works, is a finalist for the Western Publishing Association’s 2015 MAGGIE Award for Best News Story/Trade for his article “To Mandate or Not?” that appeared in the May 2014 issue of School Transportation News.

The story is about Minnesota’s decision to become the latest state to require crossing control gates on school buses and whether the decision could lead to a federal mandate for the safety devices that keep children from the paths of buses.

A primary objective of the MAGGIE Awards is to promote the pursuit of excellence among publishing & media professionals. The Annual MAGGIE Awards Banquet is the most prestigious publishing event in the West. Publishing professionals from 24 states will gather to honor excellence in print and electronic publishing in over 100 editorial, design, promotional and event categories. The 64th MAGGIE Awards Banquet will take place May 1 at the Los Angeles Marriott.