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Coaches Choice opens up in Detroit Lakes

Business gifts and merchandise are what Coaches Choice specializes in. Its manufacturing facility in Fargo can do professional embroidery, among other promotional services. SUBMITTED PHOTO

A new business offering athletic and business merchandise has dipped into Detroit Lakes.

Coaches Choice, which is headquartered out of Fargo, just opened up an office at 916 Washington Ave.

The company isn’t a retail store, but rather one that places representatives (there are currently 10 of them) in surrounding communities who build relationships with their area’s businesses, organizations and schools to help them market their entity through customized apparel and other promotional products.

With its own state of the art embroidery, screenprint art design and digitizing service technology that includes laser etching, Coaches Choice is able to take any logo or design and transfer it onto sweatshirts, jackets, hats and other corporate gifts.

The company started 15 years ago and has since expanded into cities across the region, including Bismarck, Dickenson, Alexandria and now Detroit Lakes.

For people in this area, the natural inclination would be to compare Coaches Choice to the very prominent Lakeshirts company in Detroit Lakes, but according to its president Wayne Sanders, their capabilities may be similar but their focuses are different.

“We like to think of ourselves as more of a marketing firm to help businesses enhance their brand and image,” said Sanders. “I know Lakeshirts does a ton of collegiate and resort apparel, and our focus is on corporate.”

Coaches Choice will do athletic apparel for area schools — that’s how they started out — but when Sanders took over as president of the company eight years ago, he began taking it in a different direction.

“There’s just such a huge opportunity out there to work with different businesses,” said Sanders, who admits the company’s name doesn’t exactly align with their focus anymore, but it stands out and long-standing customers like it, he added.

Working out of the Detroit Lakes office is account executive Pam Zinniel, a Cormorant Lakes area resident of 14 years, and although she has been with Coaches Choice for only a year, she’s been “in the business” for 12 years.

“And the thing that stands out about us is being able to use brand names like Under Armour — that’s such a huge thing right now,” said Zinniel, who adds that Coaches Choice is able to take any advertising logo or image and professionally match it by color, stitching and style to the apparel’s brand name logo, like Under Armour or Nike.

“We have one of the most sophisticated embroidery and print screens,” she said, as Sanders added, “it’s our focus to make sure your brand and image names come across just as professionally as the apparel it’s being put on. That’s our hallmark.”

Zinniel is now busy traveling the area, visiting with different organizations around her 75-mile radius of Detroit Lakes to show people what Coaches Choice has to offer.

“I’m trying to give people some other things to choose from,” she said, adding that there is a big need for her company’s items in the lakes area.

“And the knowledge of the support team to help customers brand their businesses and the line of clothing they (Coaches Choice) has is just state of the art,” said Zinniel, who will hold office hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“But I’m not always there because I travel around, too,” she said, adding that she always keeps her phone on her so people can visit with her about their organization’s needs.

For more information on how to get a hold of Zinniel or other Coaches Choice representatives, log on to

Paula Quam

Paula Quam is the editor for Forum Communications Co. newspapers in Detroit Lakes, Perham and Wadena, all in Minnesota.

(218) 844-1466