Meet Your Good Neighbor Front Porch Series: Journeyman Co.
In downtown Middleton, there’s a men’s store where every garment has a story.
“This is made in Seattle,” said Todd Christiansen, owner of Journeyman Co., as he cradled a burly wool jacket. “It’s been made since 1903 using Pendleton wool and it’s an original jacket for hunting and logging.”
The story and the details are important to Christiansen, who opened this shop in 2018. He selects each garment carefully, considering where and how it was made, how it fits and how it looks and functions.
He draws on a lifetime of experience in the industry — previously working at Lands’ End in retail, inventory and merchandising, as well as at TravelSmith in San Francisco.
His shop, Journeyman Co., carries tops, bottoms, outerwear and more from companies like Taylor Stitch and Barbour. He also sells an exclusive Journeyman line, which includes items like classic well-made rugby shirts and sweaters made in partnership with Harley of Scotland.
“Most of the brands in here I’ve run across in my 25 years of experience,” Christiansen said. “They are brands that I like — most of these brands are in my closet.”
When Journeyman carries a wool jacket, there is a reason.
“Not only is it made in the United States, but it’s made, really, really well,” he said, admiring the jacket he pulled off the rack. “The fabric will hold 30 percent of its weight in water, and still keep you warm, without feeling damp.”
Christiansen also strives to offer a level of service you might not find elsewhere. Sometimes, he brings specific items into his store that he would not ordinarily carry in order to help a single customer complete a look.
“This is about more than just selling clothing, it’s about building relationships, helping people and helping people build their wardrobe,” he said.
When the pandemic hit, Christiansen was forced to pivot. A health order temporarily closed small businesses like Journeyman and it posed a big challenge to the small shop.
“I had an online business, but at the time I was 95 percent focused on the store experience, less on the online experience,” he said.
While Journeyman offered deliveries and curbside service during those weeks of closure, Christiansen used the time to invest in his online store. It has been an exciting development for the business.
“I’m definitely reaching out to new markets and I’m shipping all over the United States and to Australia, Europe,” he said. “It’s something to be closing and going home for dinner and to be having a couple sales happen. The store is not open, but the website is at work. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Despite the online success, Christiansen doesn’t envision an online-only future.
“The store allows me to build a brand,” he explains. “It’s tough to build a brand on a website. When you can three-dimensionally build out your ideas and your looks … this is where the ideas happen.”
While Christiansen has built his brand around products with a story, along the way he’s written the next chapter of his own story. Christiansen said he always wanted to open his own business and as his 50th birthday approached, he realized it was time, so he opened Journeyman. He said he’s now engaged in the details of his business every day and he loves it.
“Work is no longer work,” he said. “It’s just my life. That’s a big deal and it’s pretty freeing.”
About Journeyman Co.
7525 Hubbard Ave, Middleton, WI 53562
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.