What? No free Fleet Farm T-shirts in Crow Wing County?

The people of Crow Wing County are bummed, realizing that a once-local corporation isn’t quite as “local” anymore, now that it’s been bought by a conglomerate.

The problem? There are no free Fleet Farm T-shirts at the Crow Wing County Fair anymore, the Brainerd Dispatch reports today.

Sure, it’s only a shirt, but it was once a staple of the fair and the people say it reveals that the area has lost its local pal now that the Mills family has sold Fleet Farm to the city slickers at KKR, a global investment firm.

“I don’t think anyone realized how much the Mills family did for us in this community,” said Gary Doucette, manager of the county fair. “We had a really good run. Businesses are bought and sold everyday. People have the right to change the way they do business. It is a business and I completely understand and I am not angry about it. I am happy the Mills family was here for as long as were and did the things they did. This fair wouldn’t be what it is today without them. I am eternally grateful to them.”

The Brainerd Dispatch will be in the Mills Fleet Farm booth spot this year. The newspaper won’t have colored T-shirts, but will have a Plinko game with which people will win a prize. It is one prize per person. The Dispatch will have representatives from each department at the fair at one point or another, as well as someone at the booth to sell subscriptions and to take story tips.

How important are free Fleet Farm T-shirts?

“When I die, I want some of my ashes to be spread at the Fleet Farm spin wheel,” one Brainerd collector told the Dispatch in a 2010 feature.

At least you’ll always have Plinko, Crow Wing County.

  • BJ

    I knew it had been up for sale but I guess I missed that it was sold. I should have guessed you don’t remodel stores to attract buyers.

    • Jim in RF

      They (new guys) remodeled Hudson and its been a disaster for long-time shoppers. Narrower, longer aisles with taller shelves and backstock piled on top makes it like shopping in a dark canyon. I can’t imagine what it would be like to shop from a wheelchair. But now they have frozen pizzas (to compete with Menards, I suppose).

  • MrE85

    These corporate buyouts of MN firms sometimes have more serious consequences than missing out on a free t-shirt. Example: When they were locally owned, Honeywell donated a lot and had partnerships with local charities. Now, not so much.

    • The general decline in corporate philanthropy doesn’t help.

      Corporations only allegiance is to the shareholders, not to communities.

      • MrE85

        Well said.

      • ec99

        Except GE, whose only allegiance was to the CEO.

        • Jack Welch did more to destroy America’s communities than any other CEO in history, imho. And, yet, he still has the nerve to appear regularly on CNBC and lecture us.

          • ec99

            I was talking Immelt.

          • 212944

            Welch taught McNerney, who took a cut at permently damaging 3M as well. Great day for the shareholders, employees, customers and communities when he left.

          • Didn’t McNerney get rid of the famous 3M “go play and develop stuff” culture? Weren’t 3M people encouraged to spend X amount of time a week just playing with ideas? It’s an amazing company.

          • 212944

            Under him, things were “tightened up” to “find efficencies” to “navigate rough waters” and “face a challenging landscape.”

            Yeah, research – long 3M’s strong suit – was cut, researchers essentially punished for not moving away from research and into management posititions. His Six Sigma obsession pulled limited engineering and research resources away to chase that errand.

            During that five or so year period, there would have been attrition. There always is. But the number of strong researchers, engineers and other professionals – particularly in their 20s, 30s and early 40s – that left was alarming. They are still building back up.

  • Fleet Farm owned by a firm from NEW YORK CITY???

    /git a rope…

    • John O.

      They were so intrigued when they found out Fleet Farm sells “teat wash” that they bought the company. #probablynot

      • ec99

        They must have also been thrilled with Bagbalm.

    • Al

      That really chaps my hide.

  • Gary F

    The city boy still makes a road trip to the man’s mall 3-4 times a year even with new ownership and I’ve never gotten a free t-shirt.

    • Kassie

      This city girl goes that often too, mostly because my partner works on a farm, but also because it has great canning/kitchen supplies, pet supplies and candy. I’ll never know why people call it a Man mall when there is so much for women and they do a much better job advertising to women then other places, like Cabellas.

      • I need some fly strips. Where else you gonna get fly strips other than Fleet Farm? Oh, and some trail mix. And some new work jeans.

        • Jerry

          Tractor Supply Company stores act as a mini fleet farm for me, and one that doesn’t require a 40 minute detour to reach. Otherwise, Nokomis Shoe Shop in Keywadin is pretty good source for work wear, although it is getting increasingly posh.

          • Gary F

            Bought a pair of Thorogood boots there last fall. Bring back Kaplans.

        • FF is good for dog stuff – some of the best selection and pricing anywhere. But you have to beware of some of the other items made in China; I bought a couple of men’s belts there and they fell apart in about four months – sure enough, “Made in China”.

          • Jerry

            Their Field & Forest house brand is really bad. Shoddy construction and erratic sizing.

      • Mark

        I think it’s “The Man’s Mall” not because it doesn’t have stuff for women but because the conventional shopping mall doesn’t have anything that interests men. Women are just as welcome at the mall that has the cool stuff (Fleet Farm) but men will try to avoid getting dragged to the mall that doesn’t. Is that a reasonable explanation?

        I just wore one of my eight free Fleet Farm shirts on Monday. A highlight of 4H at the State Fair.

        • Kassie

          You do love gender role stereotypes don’t you? Nothing in a regular mall interests men? So not Apple, Sears, men’s clothing stores, Games by James, restaurants…

          Oh, and the idea that women drag men to malls is such BS. I can’t think of the time I ever dragged any man shopping, but I know plenty of men who like to shop, even at places like Mall of America. Most men I know probably have been to a Mall more recently than a Fleet Farm by choice.

          And of course, Fleet Farm isn’t a mall, its a big box store.

          • Mark

            There is no need for personal attacks. I’m sorry my explanation didn’t help you better. There are certainly some men who would prefer to avoid a conventional mall but love Fleet Farm and are excited to go there. They have embraced Fleet Farm as their place, and Fleet Farm has embraced them as people (as people, not as “it’s” people). These men certainly stereotyped by saying “this is what men like to do”, but their embracing of Fleet Farm as their place by use of this term does not exclude others from Fleet Farm. To read ill intent or exclusion into their motives would be a sad prejudice which divides us as people, while assuming the best of their intentions helps move us forward embracing one another. They can say that Fleet Farm makes them happy; Fleet Farm can say that they make it happy; and we can say that we are happy they have something that makes them happy.

            I absolutely will not reply again in this thread to any comments that assume what I like or do not like. I hope this explanation helps others embrace the joys that each other find in their lives.

      • Jerry

        Still better than those horribly misogynistic Nothern Tool commercials.

      • Gary F

        My wife doesn’t always go, but when she does, she puts a lot of stuff in the cart.

  • Mike O’Brien

    We give our son who lives in Wisconsin a Fleet Farm T-shirt every Christmas! He has gotten one every year since they started handing them out at the fair. Sad day-another tradition gone by the way