From socks to sleeping bags


New store offers one-stop shopping for summer campers' needs :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

photo courtesy of Cloz This "summer camp cabin" is a display-it's built inside the new Cloz store in Buffalo Grove.

Summer camp can be daunting for a child heading away from home for the first time. Packing that child off to camp can be equally daunting for a parent.

Enter Cloz.

The company has just opened a retail outlet in northwest suburban Buffalo Grove that promises to be a one-stop shop for everything summer camp. And, unlike its online outlet, this on-site store offers plenty to keep the kids busy while parents stock up. There's half a summer camp cabin and an 18-foot climbing wall just for fun. On the more practical note, there's also a row of shower stalls that serve as changing rooms.

Shirts, socks, uniforms (some camps require them), flashlights, sleeping bags and hand-held electric fans are all there. The store even carries stationery, a must buy for lonely parents hoping to get at least one letter from their summer camper.

The company is focused on making camp shopping as painless as possible-including a special nametag service. Aimed at campers who will be attending camps that require all clothing be marked with the child's name, Cloz sells 100 nametags for $9.95, which includes the cost of sewing the tags into any pieces of Cloz-purchased clothing-right down to the socks.

The store is the first retail outlet for Cloz, which until now has operated only online.

The company was started in 1989 by Michael Cohen in his college apartment as a mail order catalog company. As a camper and a camp counselor, Cohen saw parents had few options for summer camp shopping. Thus was born Cloz.

"I was the one who brought mail order to the summer camp," he says. "The timing was perfect."

As part of Cloz's specialty business, the company forms relationships with specific camps. Those camps post packing lists on Cloz's Web site and have personalized merchandise available through Cloz.

Camp Marimeta, an all-girls camp in Eagle River, Wis., does business with Cloz. Through Cloz, Marimeta campers can buy their horse-riding boots, tennis racket, bedding and clothes.

"So far, so wonderful," is how Jody Bradley, assistant director of Camp Marimeta, describes Cloz.

When summer ends and the back-to-school buying frenzy begins, the store will shift focus to concentrate on its line of school uniforms. For information on the company or directions to the store at 733 Hastings Lane, Buffalo Grove, visit

Graham Johnston

Kids Eat Chicago

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