Common Apparel steps it up on Superior Street

Jordan Bissell

Owner Nate Blomquist. Photo credits: Jordan Bissell
Owner Nate Blomquist. Photo credits: Jordan Bissell

Common Apparel will be opening a new shop at 202 E Superior Street, with a kick off event on Saturday, April 15. Common Apparel is a new and upcoming clothing company with a skate culture focus in Duluth, that has made a big impression on the local arts community in their over six years so far. They were previously known for their underground skate spot / warehouse in the alley under First Street. We covered their skatepark back in October, but now they’re moving on to bigger and better things. After some technicalities with zoning, they had to move out of what was formerly known as The Carter. Owner and operator, Nate Blomquist explained, “Well basically, we had issues with the zoning of our last spot, so we had to move, but it was actually kind of a blessing in disguise coming here now. Now we have the natural lighting, an actual shop, and a place to meet clients. Now we can focus more on the art side, the clothing, and printing garments for other people. The other spot was more focused on skating, boarding, and interacting with other people. Now we have street access and street sinage. We can now advertise ourselves better, and we’re downtown on Superior (Street) so people can actually see us.” 

The other side of their work is actually their second company called Hillside Direct, which will be operating out of the same space. “We’ve upgraded too, recently with this new printer we’re financing, it’s the only of its kind in downtown, we specialize in direct to garment printing, so full color printing with no set-ups or minimums.” said Blomquist, “This printing will be available for local bands, other brands in town, other local businesses. The new showroom will be a mix of Hillside Direct items we make in collaboration with other artists, as well as our own Common Apparel items.”

Though the first space was very popular, it wasn’t quite the shop or showroom Blomquist has always wanted, they discussed renting the upper floor of the building the old warehouse was in to create a shop with First Street access, but upon finding out they had to give up the warehouse, a new location was the obvious choice. “It was almost like a test run in our last place, in a way. Now we’re taking that next step towards more of a show room / boutique,” said Blomquist. 

When asked about the new space, Blomquist elloborated, “It’s the perfect space for us because of the zoning, perfect for sewing and producing garments, like assembly line status.” During our interview, we couldn’t help but notice some professional quality photo equipment through one of the doors of their new space, so naturally we had to ask. He explained, “We also have a photo both set up for product photos for our clients, every time we have an order, we will provide a product photo shoot, to help clients especially if they’re new to online sales, and it’s helpful for our own new releases and new product lines.”

If one were approaching the space from Superior Street, they’d be aiming for the door to the immediate left of Lake Superior Art Glass, “We’re working with DAIP or Domestic Abuse Intervention Program (the door you’re looking for has their name on it), so this building is city owned and also includes Lake Superior Art Glass downstairs,” said Blomquist.

“We worked out an agreement where we will be open from 12 to 5 pm on Monday through Friday, and then certain Saturdays we’ll be opening for pop-up art galleries, hopefully bi-weekly.” They agreed on those hours so that they can have clients coming through at a time that will not intersect with clients of DAIP who deserve their privacy.

Blomquist also noted, “Dan Neff, is right below us, the owner of Lake Superior Art Glass. He wants to start an art crawl every Friday, starting the first of May throughout the summer, and he wants to include us, and other known artists in this area. There are two other spaces up here on the second floor that I’m working on leasing, we have one friend looking into making one office his photography and painting studio / gallery. If that works out, we’re hoping to turn this second floor into an art collective that could work with Lake Superior Art Glass. We’d like to work together with other venues in the area, like the Herring and galleries like Zeitgeist. It’s why we chose this spot.”

Curious about the spot? The first chance to check it out will be the Grand Opening on Saturday, April 15. Blomquist went on to say, “For the Grand Opening on Saturday, we’ll be opening at 11 am, and closing the doors around 5 pm. With an after party afterwards at The Red Herring Lounge. Night Moves, a band we’ve been following for a while, will be headlining the after party, they’re just getting done with an tour oversees. Carnage the Executioner (a hip-hop artist from the Twin Cities), will also be playing, we’ve been working with him a lot since we opened The Carter. Also, local acts Nonfic (hip-hop) and Crunchy Bunch (DJ/hip-hop) will be there too. Tickets are $10 in advance through The Red Herring Lounge, or $15 at the door, and that’s going to the bands, they deserve it, especially for traveling from the Twin Cities. Also if you come to my Grand Opening, and spend $30-$40 bucks on something, I’ll give you a VIP wristband while they last, for free entrance to the (after party) show.”

Both Hillside Direct and Common Apparel are launching new websites in the coming days as well. Common Apparel’s new site is already up and running at, but will feature their new spring/summer product line on May 1. Hillside Direct’s new site will debut on Monday, April, 17 at