Colleen Stobbe does not speak directly to Willie Robertson.
Or his Uncle Si.
“I deal with Kristy,” Stobbe responded with a smile. “She’s a super nice person.”
But the Port Rowan-area businesswoman’s association with North America’s first family of duck hunting and their own line of products has made her ‘happy, happy, happy.’
Although not on speaking terms with the Robertsons per se, Stobbe’s introduction to the Louisianan family whose duck calls and large personalities have been made famous through the A&E reality TV show Duck Dynasty, came during a Christmas party at her home in 2011. Emile VanDommelle, a noted ‘duckman’ in his own right, had met members of the Robertson family at a hunting show, and suggested Colleen and Norm’s sons Riley and Luke would enjoy some Duck Commander gear for Christmas.
All three of her ‘boys’ have an affinity for duck hunting, but it’s Luke who heads directly off a night shift at work to wait in line for blinds at Long Point, says his mother.
“He’s a die hard. He doesn’t even come home and sleep.”
Stobbe was able to order online a week prior to that December 25, and received gifts in time for the big day. “Now, I think November 10 is the cutoff,” she said. “That’s how busy they are.”
To say the Duck Commander gear went over in a big way, both with her sons and their friends, is a big understatement.
“It was a huge hit,” said Stobbe, who saw opportunity in the interest generated.
Health issues had dictated a transition from a successful 30-year career as a hairstylist, into growing opportunity in the retail side of her associated Shear Creations Gift Shoppe. A phone call to the source in West Monroe, Louisiana, inquiring whether Stobbe could act as an informal Duck Commander, Great White North outlet, received quick assent.
“They were like, ‘yeah, sure,’” she recalled. “And it’s been crazy ever since.”
To be clear, Stobbe offers original Duck Commander and Buck Commander gear, sourced directly from the Robertson family business. There is also a line of Duck Dynasty gear, inspired by the A&E series and available from their website and other locations, including TSC and Bass Pro Shops.
“I always say I carry Duck and Buck Commander products,” she clarified. “Right from Louisiana.”
Stobbe’s timing couldn’t have been better, riding the wave of a reality TV show which has gone from a cult, to broad-based following.
“It sure has taken off, huge eh? Women, kids and men.”
Simcoe Composite School had a Duck Dynasty day, says Stobbe, there was at least one Duck Dynasty New Year’s Eve party this year, and even the youth group at her Mennonite Brethern church in Port Rowan hosted a Redneck Night.
“They all dressed up in Duck Commander stuff and watched Duck Dynasty shows,” she smiled. “Everybody is into it.”
From a modest beginning, Shear Creations currently carries an estimated 25-30 styles of T-shirts, hoodies and hats in men’s, women’s youth and child sizes, along with Phil Robertson Happy Happy Happy mugs, ‘Cut ‘Em’ duck call lanyards, decals, key chains, beards, bandanas – and of course, duck calls.
“Never thought I’d see the day I’d have duck calls in the store, but there I am, and it’s great,” Stobbe laughed.
Demand for the various products is definitely there. The week previous, customers attracted by the Shear Creations Gift Shoppe Facebook page drove in from Cambridge, Hamilton, Tillsonburg and Simcoe, and she has shipped an order to Alberta. Duck hunters and those who love camo in every shape and size form part, but far from her entire clientele.
“I find women are into this as much as the men,” says Stobbe, who also had a grandma purchase a duck call for a very determined six-year-old girl. “All she wanted was a duck ‘whistle’ from ‘the boys.”
Stobbe sold ‘hundreds,’ of shirts last year, and struggles to keep up with demand, particularly during Port Rowan’s Festival By The Bay.
“I hire extra people just to be in charge of the Duck Commander shirts – I can’t keep up.”
Ordering – and even making contact with the Duck Commander warehouse can prove problematic, given Kristy says she receives up to 1,600 emails daily, to a Louisianan warehouse where demand has clearly outstripped supply.
“I can only get what they send me,” says Stobbe, who tries to anticipate demand and order well ahead. “If you order when you’re out, it can take three weeks to get anything. When they get something in, it just goes out right away and it’s gone.
“It’s not their fault, it’s just too busy. They are just overwhelmed, they can’t keep up.”
Stobbe does see the irony in the fact a former hairdresser has found a successful sideline highlighting a hunting crew who eschews shears, and sports universally long locks.
“And beards,” Stobbe laughed from inside the Shear Creations Gift Shoppe. “Yup, it’s crazy.
“Who would have thought they would have taken off like that?”
But in the midst of the happy chaos, Stobbe remains a huge Duck Dynasty fan.
“Love the show, love the show. Probably Si is the funniest, Jase too. You never know what’s going to come out of Si’s mouth, and I guess he’s like that for real.”
Stobbe would like nothing better than to find out for herself, say on the end of a personal delivery, if the Robertson boys ever considered commanding a few ducks further up the flight path from Louisiana in Long Point’s Inner Bay.
“That would be so awesome if they came,” she concluded with a smile. “I think it would be a long shot, but every time I place my orders, I keep telling them, this is where I am, five minutes from Long Point.”