Large spaces are important for small sporting goods stores
Father and son Troy and Jon Haverly remain optimistic about the future of their iconic store, Pete’s Surplus. Like anglers who have found a hot spot, they know the importance of location.
“I couldn’t have picked a better one,” Jon Haverly said of the store’s location. The store is located near the junction of Minnesota Highway 9 and US Highway 71 in northern Kandiyohi County. That puts it just a mile from the entrance to Sibley State Park, which ranks in the top 10 in the state park system for its number of campers and day visitors.
Games Lake County Park, one of the most visited parks in Kandiyohi County, is also located a few kilometers down the road.
And, there are plenty of great fisheries in the Kandiyohi County lakes including Norway, Andrew, and Games.
Being located just five miles from New London and a short drive from Spicer and Green Lake is also a big plus. The area is home to many avid fishermen and hunters, as well as many seasonal cottage owners.
Being at the heart of it all keeps father and son busy, along with full-time assistant Cory Edman and a few part-time workers.
Troy’s stepfather, Marvin Peterson, bought the business in 1981. It had started in 1959 as a gas station and gas station with military surpluses like Olson’s Surplus. Peterson began carrying sporting goods and groceries on site.
Troy started working with his stepfather in 1994 and bought the company in 2000. Jon has worked alongside his father since he was 15. He returned to the store after graduating from college and now, about to turn 30, interested in buying it someday too.
Father and son said the formula for keeping a small sporting goods business viable in today’s world of internet sales and destination department stores is not really complicated. They offer a wide variety of products and always friendly customer service.
Pete’s Surplus continues to carry surplus military items, as well as Red Wing and Lacrosse boots, Carhartt clothing, groceries, fishing gear and bait, hunting and camping gear, ammunition, snacks. and sweets, including fresh pastries from the New London Bakery. There is also self-service gasoline, including an ethanol-free super fuel pump. Propane is also available.
In other words, Pete’s Surplus carries just about everything for those who love the outdoors. The good news is that there are more of us, according to Jon. He has noticed a slight increase in recent years in the number of customers looking for outdoor items.
The summer season is the store’s busiest and attracts a mix of local shoppers, campers and seasonal cabin owners visiting the area. Jon said he continues to be impressed with the number of people visiting Sibley State Park and how they come from so many different starting points in the state and beyond.
The same can be said of the traffic carried on the two highways which meet here. The fall can be very busy with hunters heading up Route 9 to the Dakotas and points to the west, Jon explained.
Father and son love to hunt and both are avid snipers. Troy was inducted into the Minnesota Trapshooting Association Hall of Fame in 2014.
Operating a retail store can be a challenge when it comes to enjoying these outdoor activities as a father-son duo. By definition, a retail business requires work while others don’t, explained Jon.
Yet neither of them would have liked it to be otherwise. Both said they enjoyed helping people in the store and making friendly jokes with customers, most of whom know their names.
Troy is well aware of the loss of many bait and sporting goods stores like his. He can point the way and name bait shops and resorts that have closed in recent years.
They both attribute much of their optimism to all of the store’s loyal customers. “We know people can buy from anywhere,” Troy said. “But when they come back to you, what I hear is service and friendliness. Come here and they can touch stuff.
The Haverly’s said they value the independence of running their own business, but never lose sight of the fact that customers are their bosses. Troy said, “If it weren’t for the people, we wouldn’t be here. (We are not) paid by anyone unless we are selling something.