The sweater that broke the internet

Dale of Norway and The Nordic Shop launch “Podium” to unprecedented demand

Podium sweater

Photos courtesy of The Nordic Shop
Walter Hanson III unveils the Podium design, created exclusively for The Nordic Shop.

Lori Ann Reinhall
The Norwegian American

For 140 years, Dale of Norway has been crafting premium woolen knitwear. The company bases its designs on traditional Norwegian patterns, adding its own modern twist to appeal to today’s consumer. Tourists come from all over the world to visit the factory located in the town of Dale on the train route between Bergen and Voss in Western Norway.

Dale was the first company to design and develop an Official Olympic Sweater that was worn by the Norwegian Olympic Team in 1956, and ever since then, it has outfitted Norway’s ski teams at the Olympics and all World Cup competitions. The company created the iconic Lillehammer Sweater in 1994, and in 2002, it even outfitted the U.S. Olympic team in Salt Lake City.

Americans love Dale, and Dale sweaters are sold at high-end retailers across the country. One of the largest purveyors is The Nordic Shop, located in Rochester, Minn. Owned and operated by Walter and Louise Hanson, the specialty boutique has been in business since 1974, and can boast the largest selection of Dale sweaters online.

It was no wonder then that The Nordic Shop was named Dale’s first Premier Dealer in recognition of 40+ years of representing Dale in the United States, and the Rochester boutique was designated as the official American launch point for the special edition “Podium” sweater created to celebrate Dale’s 140th anniversary.

Podium sweater

Photo courtesy of Dale of Norway.
The design for Podium pulls elements from many other Olympic sweaters designed by Dale of Norway.

The design for Podium pulls elements from many other Olympic sweaters designed by Dale and adds the Norwegian Flag depicted in the familiar Dale of Norway eight point Norwegian rose as a further salute to Norway. On the sleeves, medals are featured, together with a number of Norwegian flags.

“The whole concept behind the sweater was to create something that was a special thank you,” said The Nordic Shop CEO Walter Hanson III. “They wanted it to be something Norway could be proud of and…. inside there’s a special message that’s knit into every sweater, which says ‘Heia Norge,’ which means ‘go Norway’ or ‘Hooray for Norway.’”

The Podium sweater launch was a special event in Rochester, with TV and other media in attendance. On May 1, the sweater was unveiled at 10 a.m. in the store and live on the Web. There were so many people trying to get onto the Podium pages at www.thenordicshop.net that the site experienced a short unexplained spike, and the navigation broke for customers. At first the owners feared someone was trying to hack into the web store, but things were resolved when a technician responded to the threat warning and discovered eager customers were simply trying to place their orders and or get a better look at Podium.

In less than 24 hours, The Nordic Shop sold out of a planned two months’ supply of the 140th Celebration Sweater. Walter and Louise Hanson spent the night processing sweaters, and at opening time at the factory, they placed a call to get more sweaters shipped. At first the Norwegians thought that their American colleagues were playing a practical joke on them, but soon realized they would have to scramble. Since it was an exclusive item for The Nordic Shop and there was no other stock to “steal” from, Dale was persuaded to do one more run of Podium to meet the unprecedented customer demand. It was one for the record books.

Back in Rochester, Walter and Louise Hanson are regaining their bearings, as they get ready for the next burst of orders. They expect to receive their next shipment of Podium sweaters at the end of May or early June for shipment to their customers in mid-June.

Anyone who would like to own a piece of history with the Special Edition 140th Anniversary Celebration Podium Sweater is urged to get their orders in before production begins around May 20. Otherwise, as Walter Hanson remarked, we may all have to wait another 10 years to see what is in the cards for Dale of Norway’s 150th anniversary.

To order a Podium sweater from Dale of Norway, visit www.thenordicshop.net or call (800) 282-6673.

To learn more about the history of Dale of Norway, visit www.norwegianamerican.com/business/more-than-a-sweater-for-140-years.

To learn more about The Nordic Shop, visit www.norwegianamerican.com/features/retail-therapy-rochester.

Lori Ann Reinhall is a multilingual journalist and community activist based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association and state representative for Sister Cities International, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.

This article originally appeared in the May 17, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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