Finding Minnesota: Vergas Hardware

VERGAS, Minn. (WCCO) — Far from the convenience of big box stores, Vergas Hardware is one town’s go-to in home repair.

“They have everything you might need,” said Jim Thom, a longtime Vergas Hardware customer.

DIYers find aisles full of tools and parts, and like every business that emphasizes customer service, behind nearly every interaction, is an expert to help make the sale.

“Knowledgeable in everything, expert in nothing,” joked Lynn Schoeneberger, who works at Vergas Hardware.

Lynn Schoeneberger started her career at the hardware store 17 years ago. Back then, she knew nothing about the inventory but years of experiences has brought knowledge and know-how in just about every area of home improvement.

“You learn by trial and error, that’s for sure,” Schoeneberger said.

She isn’t the only one well versed in a handyman’s world.

“It’s just something I learned over the years. Before I worked for Paul, I worked at a hardware store in Perham,” said Elaine Schrupp, another employee.

Schrupp’s expertise dates back more than two decades.

“I basically can do all of it,” she said.

By now, the staffing tendency at Vergas Hardware may be apparent. Schoeneberger and Schrupp are the only two full-time employees.

“They’re learning that we do pretty good around here,” Schrupp said.

The female-led hiring habit began 40 years ago when owner Paul Pinke noticed the employment pools was somewhat limited in the small town.

“The men in this area will go to larger towns to work regular jobs and you have to be willing to work weekends too, so that makes it a little harder,” Pinke said.

Women were willing to take on the job giving this once male-dominated role a new look.

“When I came here, this small town was very conservative,” Pinke said. “The stereotype was male dominance, conservative this and that so, it’s fun breaking that mold a little, too.”

Vergas Hardware would never be the same.

“They’re the heart of the business,” Thom said

These ladies honed their expertise in home improvement while also using the tools to change the status quo.

“I don’t look at it as a male thing at all,” Schoenenberger said. “Maybe 20 years ago but not anymore.”

Vergas Hardware does have a couple of male college students working part-time in the summer.

They learn the ropes from the ladies.

To send in Finding Minnesota ideas, click here.

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