Under his leadership, Terry Baar took Cambridge’s municipal liquor store from averaging $1.7 million in sales to $5.4 million.
After spending 49 years in the liquor retail industry, with 21 of those years working for the city of Cambridge, Baar has decided to retire.
Baar has been manager of Cambridge’s municipal liquor store, Northbound Liquor, since 1996. His last day of work will be March 17, with an open house scheduled at Northbound Liquor from 1-4 p.m. Anyone in the community is invited to attend and offer their best wishes to Baar.
“I’ve spent 49 years working holidays and I’m looking forward to not working as much,” Baar said. “I like to tinker with things and restore old things. I have a snowmobile and boat I’d like to work on, and I’ll be busy doing yard work. I will definitely miss my employees and my customers.”
Baar, a 1970 graduate of Cambridge High School, is married to Barb Baar, who also retired last month after working for 44 years with Isanti County. Together they have two sons and four grandchildren.
Baar began his career in the liquor industry when he was still in high school. He began working for Erickson’s More 4 grocery store stocking shelves. After five weeks, he was promoted to night manager, and in 1974, he took over as manager of the store.
“Everything kind of evolved and I kept working my way up through the ranks,” Baar said. “It was something I really liked a lot and enjoyed doing.”
Baar resigned from More 4 after 28 years to take the position with the city.
“I took the job in July, and then in September, all the news came out about the financial hardships the city was facing,” Baar said. “We started making changes at the store, worked on our marketing and worked on getting our pricing in line. It was 18 months before we got our first profit-loss statements.”
Since 2006, the liquor store has transferred a minimum of $200,000 profit into the city’s general fund, and in 2016, the store averaged nearly 20,000 customers per month. Other notable years include:
• 2008: $240,000 was transferred into the city’s general fund and $107,218 was used for Sandquist Park.
• 2012: $330,000 was transferred into the city’s general fund and $100,000 was used for Cambridge City Park.
• 2013: $350,000 was transferred into the city’s general fund and $20,000 was used for the Cambridge Senior Center.
• 2014: $421,915 was transferred into the city’s general fund and $7,400 was used for the Cambridge Senior Center.
• 2015: $400,000 was transferred into the city’s general fund and $63,000 was used for construction of pickleball courts and $15,000 for summer concerts in the park.
• 2016: $400,000 was transferred into the city’s general fund and $125,000 was used for new ice rinks.
Northbound expanded from 6,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet in 2007. Baar designed the expansion and assistant manager Bobbi Mix did all the decorating. He explained it was a $1 million expansion that came in $200,000 under budget.
“We knew we had outgrown our current store and it was time to expand,” Baar said. “I’ve had great support over the years with all three city administrators I’ve worked with, including Gordon Heitke, Stoney Hiljus and Lynda Woulfe. The city councils have also all been very supportive,” he said.
Another change Baar has witnessed over the years is wine used to be 9 percent of sales and is now 16 percent of sales. Craft beers used to utilize 26 beer doors; they now utilize 41 beer doors. He said the store has also added more flavored beers, which are also selling well.
A couple of highlights of Baar’s career include being named Minnesota Municipal Manager of the Year in 2004 and he also spent 10 years as chairman of the Cambridge Retail Committee and was chairman of the Top Hatters, part of the chamber’s welcoming committee.
Under Baar’s leadership, the store began offering wine tasting events that started with 20 in attendance and grew to over 200 in attendance.
This year, Baar said, he turned 65 and felt it was time to retire.
Cambridge City Administrator Lynda Woulfe said Baar was an excellent employee.
“Terry was a rock-solid manager for Northbound Liquor,” Woulfe said. “He demanded the best in customer service and strived to always have a wide variety of products available. Terry did this because he wanted to serve the citizens of Cambridge by providing tax relief, contributions to park improvements and ensure the responsible sale of alcohol in our community. Terry took Northbound Liquor to a new level and because of that, the city is now able to collect $400,000 each year to reduce the city’s tax levy. Terry will be missed.”
Cambridge Mayor Marlys Palmer echoed Woulfe’s sentiments.
“I would like to thank Terry for being a great city liquor store manager, and on behalf of our city staff and all citizens, I would like to say with gratitude, respect and regret that Terry set the standard as an excellent employee and wonderful friend to our entire community,” Palmer said. “We wish you great success with your retirement, both Terry and Barb. We miss you already.”
Bernie Audette has been promoted to liquor store manager due to Baar’s retirement.
“Bernie has been my night manager and has been here 16 years,” Baar said. “He’ll do a great job and knows everyone. He’s very knowledgeable in the liquor retail industry.”