While e-commerce is regarded as an essential aspect at promo companies, this distributor is bucking the trend by opening a physical location to complement its existing online business.
When Nate Baldry was a kid, his family would joke that he’d probably end up becoming the vice president of his uncle’s promotional merchandise company. And actually, as an adult, he did work for him for a stint. Then he pivoted slightly and took a job in the golf industry.
“I would source products for the promotional Products shop, and I got familiar with promo industry resources, built a network of contacts and begun bringing in more referrals,” says Baldry. “So I made up my mind to start a promo business, which I ran part-time for about five years. I went into it full-time four years ago.” 
Today, Baldry is the president of Branded Solutions based in Hutchinson, MN, a small Midwestern town of just 15,000 about 60 miles west of Minneapolis. The company was only e-commerce for 9 years, but Baldry and his team of two were able to serve a variety of clients and their imprinting needs solely over the web. The majority of the promotional business is local, while others are more far-flung and have never even met Baldry.
After a local search, Baldry found the perfect location: an empty corner storefront on Main Street in downtown “Hutch,” as the town is known to the public. They officially opened on Black Friday of this year.
“It’s an amazing location. Thousands of people drive by every day,” he says. “It’s been non-stop since we opened. We wanted the ability to enlarge and to offer good service, and we also wanted to be highly visible and to showcase our logo-imprinting capabilities and products. The walk-in business doesn’t always result in crazy-big orders, but it’s so good to get them to come in and satisfy us and touch and feel the items.” 
But they haven’t ended e-commerce operations. As a matter of fact, the virtual and physical storefronts are complementing each other and helping to drive even more business. “We like to have local clients who order from our e-commerce site to come in to the store to pick up their orders, so they can see what we offer,” he says. “Now as our volume increases, we’re going to have to manage our processes so we keep pace. That’s our challenge. But we’d love to face it.”