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Best Of Minnesota: Hardware Store

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(credit: CBS) Matt Brickman
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MINNEOTA, Minn. (WCCO) – As soon as this latest round of snow melts, spring projects begin — and that means a trip to the hardware store.

But instead of one of the big box stores, check out what WCCO viewers picked as the Best Hardware Store in Minnesota.

It’s Gislason’s Hardware of Minneota, Minn., located in the southwest part of the state.

How did a small town store finish atop the poll? Divine intervention.

“Rita stood up in front of the congregation and asked people to support us and they did,” Dave Fahey said.

Rita Dovre explained.

“Pastor does give an opportunity for other announcements, and I guess this came under other,” she said.

But that doesn’t mean Gislason’s Hardware is undeserving — far from it.

“You can ask people about my dad and my grandpa,” Barb Rye said. “Everybody loved them.”

Rye is a fourth generation hardware store owner in Minneota.

Her grandfather was in charge when the building went up on Main Street in 1904.

“You know, it’s been around for so long, Gislason is part of the makeup of the town in a sense,” Fahey said.

A lot of the charm of the old building remains today, like a rope-operated freight elevator. That, and the original wood floors marked with holes of past purpose.

“My grandpa, when he had it, the rope was put in the basement,” Rye said. “So you just take what you want, cut it off, and it’s not taking up space upstairs.”

The building isn’t the only thing here that’s old fashioned. So is the way Rye and Fahey treat their customers.

And it doesn’t stop there. There’s a story about an older guy who came in to buy a leaf-blower.

“But he needed help using it,” Dovre said. “So he asked Dave to get up on the roof and do the job for him. And he did.”

Fahey pointed out that such an action is what he believes in.

“It just works that way in a small community,” he said. “We do things for one another and that’s the best part of a small community.”

They’ll try to downplay it, but what Rye and Fahey do is special. And it may be the reason their customers are willing to pay little more to support them.

“It’s a dream job, you know,” Fahey said. “We’re very fortunate people.”

A couple years ago a Menard’s opened up just 14 miles away in Marshall, Minn. But business for Gislason’s hasn’t skipped a beat, and it’s something Rye and Fahey credit to their friends and neighbors in Minneota.

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