Herald JournalHerald Journal, May 9, 2005

St. Boni Farm Store closing after more than 70 years in business

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

Long-time St. Boni Farm Store owner Tom Logelin and his wife, Phyllis, are going to take the advice of an old friend of theirs upon their retirement.

The Logelin’s friend, Andy Nimmer, owned a cafe in St. Boni, and every so often, people would say “Andy, you’ve been around a while, and done some traveling in your day. What’s the easiest way to get to California?”

Nimmer would always respond “Get on Highway 7 and head west until you hit the water, then take a left,” Logelin recalled with a laugh.

Now that he and Phyllis are shutting down the sales operation of their store May 20, they are planning on doing just that.

The store began its operations in 1932 by Logelin’s father, Matt, and has continued in the family ever since. The business was originally a “feed and seed” establishment, and oftentimes, when Matt would head to the Minneapolis area, patrons would ask him to pick them up appliances, paint, tires – “all kinds of different things,” Tom said.

“He developed a network of suppliers before anyone knew what the word network meant,” Tom said. “He had more cotton-pickin’ people he’d buy supplies from.”

From there came a small store. In 1941, appliances were introduced to the store, and the rest is history.

Matt eventually sold the store to Tom’s brother, Don, and following Don’s death, Tom and Phyllis bought the business. Their son, Paul, of Lester Prairie, has also been in the business more than 20 years.

Logelin recalls serving up to four generations of familiar names, including the Marketons of the Waverly area, the Diers of the Howard Lake area, the Mickolicheks from the Silver Lake area, and the Gueningsmans from the Winsted area.

“We have generations in those families we’ve been able to serve,” he said. “Most of those relationships were built by dad back in the 1930s.”

Logelin said the closing of the sales department is mainly due to the larger stores making it harder and harder to compete.

“It’s a simple fact of the matter that the big boys are selling appliances, and the margins are getting smaller and smaller, and the profits are getting less and less,” Logelin said. “There’s a limit as to how much fun a 67-year-old man can have without making any money. It’s like David and Goliath, but in this case, David didn’t win.”

He said over the years, he has watched the integrity be taken out of business, and said that now “you need a lawyer to make almost any transaction.”

“Common sense isn’t as common as it used to be,” Logelin said.

The service business is going to remain in operation, Logelin said, with two long-time employees, Rick Donovan and Kevin Stiegen, keeping up the operations and maintenance.

Tom and Phyllis are going to be spending more time traveling, as well as spending quality time with their grandchildren. Even with his retirement, he still believes a small part of America is being lost by the bigger corporations.

“I maintain that small-town USA is in jeopardy,” Logelin said. “People are driving by Al’s Diner to go to Applebee’s, and we’re going to lose something.”

Words to live by

A man who’s obviously happy having served people for the past many years, Logelin said the biggest thing is to just “enjoy life.”

“If you’re not happy with what you’re doing – go do something that’ll make you happy,” he said. “If you want something, you gotta work hard.”

Hard works is nothing new to Logelin, as he was a charter member of the St. Boni Lions, a member of the Waconia Knights of Columbus, chairman of the Waconia School Board, and also past president of the St. Bonifacius Catholic Church council.

“The good Lord has smiled on Tommy in his lifetime, that’s for sure,” Tom said with a smile.

And as far as dealing with customers on a daily basis, he said “never forget who puts the food on your table.”

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