Plenty of shoppers mixed with the army of new employees when the Mills Fleet Farm store opened its doors Oct. 2 on the east side of Cambridge.
“We were so excited for the opening,” store manager Karla Holmes said. “When I was here the preceding months getting the store ready and would wear my Fleet Farm shirt around town, people would repeatedly come up and ask, ‘When are you opening?’ We received great feedback from the community, and we are really glad to be officially open.”
Holmes said the wet autumn weather over the weekend may have helped bring out even more patrons than expected, drawing in folks from the proximal and regional towns. Before the Cambridge store opened, the nearest Mills Fleet Farm stores to this area were the Blaine store off Lexington and I-35, the Brooklyn Park location and the Waite Park store.
The Cambridge Mills Fleet Farm converted the former Lowe’s building into their familiar layout, complete with the orange-topped silo and gas and car wash station in front along Highway 95.
“It wasn’t a typical new Mills Fleet Farm, since we began with an existing building. But you can’t argue about location, location, location,” Mills advertising and marketing manager Paul Gilbert said. “You would be hard-pressed to find a better commercial location.”
Gilbert said the Cambridge store is the 34th of the Mills Fleet Farm retail fleet in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and North Dakota, with a Des Moines, Iowa, store also opening this year in July. The first Mills Fleet Farm opened in Marshfield, Wis., in 1955 as the Stewart Mills Sr. operations expanded from its car dealership and Crow Wing Oil Company origins in the 1920s. Ownership is now in the third generation of the Mills family.
“It was a lot of hard work to tweak the existing building to our layout specifications. But those months of labor make it more exciting to bring a brand-new atmosphere here to Cambridge,” Holmes said. “We are just the second Mills Fleet Farm to have the company’s historical timeline posted around the walls. And we are the first one to have the log cabin at the sporting goods entrance area.”
The store area is more than 140,000 square feet in size and houses an automotive service center and rental center on site. A large seasonal section in front of the checkout lanes, which will be set up as “Toyland” for the coming holiday season, is opening next week.
On the east and north sides of the Cambridge store are 33 sections of farm, automotive, pet and home supplies. The west side holds 16 sporting good sections, which includes the military surplus aisles. The 10 clothing and five food and cards sections are in the west-central part of the store.
Mills Fleet Farm hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. The store’s phone number is 763-691-1409. Fleet Farm insert advertising magazines are delivered with The Scotsman.