By Matt Brickman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s a debate as old as Minnesota winters: gloves or mittens?

For one Minnesota company, it’s an easy answer. Matt Brickman has the story of how these mittens have gone from an Eden Prairie basement to stores in New England, Canada and Alaska.

“I’m sewing about 15,000 pieces a year,” said Melody Anderson.

That’s miles away from Polar Mitts’ humble beginnings in 1997.

“It started as a sewing project with my girls, I think one was about fifth grade and the other was a junior or senior in high school,” Anderson said. “A friend of mine who is a school teacher saw them and said, ‘Oh, these are great. Why don’t you make some more and I’ll take them to my school and we’ll sell them to the teachers?'”

The 10 pairs they made sold out immediately. Teachers at surrounding schools started asking for them, and demand kept growing.

“Next year, the following season, we were in seven Nordstrom’s,” Anderson said.

Now Polar Mitts are in 150 stores in the U.S. and Canada, but the business is still very much a “Mom and Pop” operation.

Anderson, does all the sewing herself while her husband, John, runs the business and has some other duties.

“There’s an art to stuffing a mitten, and John is the best,” Anderson said.

Mittens have helped put three kids through college, and later this year, they’ll pay for a wedding.

So, when you ask Anderson “mittens or gloves?” you can understand her answer.

“Definitely mittens,” Anderson said.

For more information about Polar Mitts, click here.


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