Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Gartens family makes ‘long-term’ investment in Forest Lake feed store

When the owners of the Gartens Greenhouse and Garden Center last bought Hawley’s Feed Store in Forest Lake, many were concerned about the feed store’s future: Would customers still be able to buy almost every kind of food imaginable, including dogs, deer, horses? You can buy feed. , llamas, chickens, hogs, goats and turkeys?

“Yes,” according to Gino Pieterra of the Gartens. “I think a lot of people assume that because the Gartens bought it, it’s going to be turned into a garden center. It’s really going to be a feed store that has plants.”

As part of a two-year, $800,000 makeover, Haule’s buildings will be renovated, insulated and disabled-accessible. “You wouldn’t look at it and say, ‘Boy, this doesn’t look like the haulage shop used to look like,'” Pieterra said. “It will look like a buffed-up version of what it is now.”

Construction crews are destroying the northernmost building on the property, located at the southwest corner of Broadway Avenue and Highway 61. “It’s really falling to pieces,” said Luke Allen, general manager of Spike and Hawley’s feed stores. “There was a difference of about a foot in the height of the floor, it was so rotten at the bottom. We joke that it was put together with boulders and peanut butter. “

A new building – matching the footprint of the building – will be built on site, and the crew are saving as much of the wood as they can to reuse on the property. “We are very attached to the past and want to preserve it as much as possible,” Allen said. He said the crew found a metal sign under another sign on the side of the building and counted each piece so that it could be re-installed somewhere on site.

The 1,000-square-foot building, which has been used at different times to store potatoes, pickles, salt and fertilizer, is the oldest building on the property. Haule was constructed in 1916, and the building pre-dates it, Allen said.

EJ Hale used to buy and sell potatoes outside the building and kept a potato sorter there. Later, pickles purchased from local farmers were stored in the building before being sent to a processing plant in the North Branch, according to Allen.

Current Look’s ‘Advanced Version’

The rest of the buildings will be renovated and restored into a 7,000-square-foot feed/seed/pet supply/lawn and garden store. “It will look like an improved version of what it looks like now,” Pieterra said. “We need to jack up those buildings, repair foundations, and get them so they work. We’re adding things like bathrooms and running water.”

Hauls will continue to sell food for gorillas, snakes, giraffes, monkeys, chinchillas and zebras; One of its biggest clients is the Como Zoo and Conservatory in St. Paul, Pieterra said.

Instead of going to two separate buildings for purchase and pickup, customers will be able to “make all their purchases and pick up all in one place,” Pieterra said. “You’ll be able to see all the products you want to buy and not have to ask for them.”

Alexander Brand, the fifth generation of the Haule family, and James Haule, the third generation, walk into the warehouse of Haule’s Feed Mill in Forest Lake on Thursday, January 10, 2019. (Jean Pieri / Pioneer Press)

After upgrading the existing buildings, officials at Gertens plan to add a retail greenhouse and restore some of the buildings that will support it on the west side of the site; One area will be dedicated to selling nursery stock, he said.

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A small portion of the 3.5-acre site at the southeast corner of Third Street and Broadway Avenue – 18/100th of an acre – is owned by the City of Forest Lake. Pitera said officials at Gartens would work with the city to acquire ownership of the land.

Other plans call for a small shed on the property to be moved to a new location.

“We bought the site because of what it was, not because we wanted to turn it into something we think it should be,” Pieterra said. “The charm of old buildings is what makes it attractive, and that’s what we’re going to work hard to preserve. We’re only going to add things that will enhance the historic appearance of those buildings and try to achieve that. They can make the weather for the next 100 years.

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“We are very pleased with the Forest Lake site,” he said. “The staff there is great, as are the people in that area.”

take a long-term approach

Hawley’s five siblings – brothers Jim, Gary, Jeff and Greg and sister Mary Kosky – also sold Hawley’s Farm, Garden and Pet Store at Grant, Minnesota 36, ​​to Gartens. The Gartens now have six feed stores, including Elk River, Delano, Loreto and Maple Plain.

In 2014, the Gartens purchased a 52-acre growing site at Lake Elmo that used to belong to Linder’s Greenhouse. The company purchased 80 acres from Buell’s Landscape and Design Center on Manning Avenue in Denmark Township in 2013; Pitera said he has since linked that site with the purchase of 80 acres of farmland and 20 acres of farmland.

“You can’t immediately come up with extra space to expand the amount of nursery stock you grow without the land to do it,” he said. “You know that somewhere down the road, you’re going to need it, so if you have the opportunity to buy one of those farms, you need to do that.”

Pieterra said the purchase is part of a plan for the “next generation of families” of Gartens executives who are getting into the business.

“We take a long-term view on this stuff,” he said. “If in the long-term view of things, it takes us two years to renovate a property, it is not a big deal. If we buy a farm knowing that at some point we may need to grow nursery stock on it But that day may not be 5 or 10 years, well, we just know we want the family business to continue. Five or 10 years come faster than you think.”

“Family-owned businesses have different time horizons,” Pieterra said when looking to produce the next quarter’s shareholders’ report. “We’re a little different, and we like it that way. I don’t think a lot of people would buy an old operation like Haule’s Forest Lake and say, ‘Instead of tearing it down and putting up a gas station or a hotel or a restaurant, put it down’ Fix and make it a good feed store. The short-term money would be, ‘Let’s just tear it down and make it a new Quick Trip or SuperAmerica or Holiday. The long-term thing is, ‘You know it’s a cool business,’ And how do you preserve these iconic buildings?'”

Gartens family makes 'long-term' investment in Forest Lake feed store
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