Large outside matter for small sporting items retailer

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NEW LONDON, Minnesota – Mom-and-pop bait and sporting goods stores are disappearing from the landscape, but a pop-and-son version plans to stay where it is for a long time.

Troy and Jon Haverly, father and son, remain optimistic about the future of their iconic Pete’s Surplus store. Like anglers who have found a hot spot, they know the importance of location.

“Couldn’t have picked a better one,” said Jon Haverly of the store’s location. The store is located near the intersection 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 is in the top 10 in the state park system due to its number of campers and day visitors.

Games Lake County Park, one of Kandiyohi County’s most visited of the most popular parks, is also just a few miles down the road.

And there are plenty of great fishing opportunities in Kandiyohi County’s lakes, including Norway, Andrew, and Games.

The location just 5 miles outside of New London and a short drive from Spicer and Green Lake is also a big plus. The area is home to many avid anglers and hunters, as well as many seasonal cabin owners.

Being in the heart of it all keeps father and son busy as well as full-time helper Cory Edman and a few part-time workers.
Troy’s father-in-law, Marvin Peterson, bought the business in 1981. It started out in 1959 as a gas station and gas station selling military surplus items as Olson’s Surplus. Peterson began selling sporting goods and groceries on site.

Troy started working with his father-in-law in 1994 and bought the business in 2000. Jon has been with his father since he was 15. He returned to the store after college and is now, nearing 30, interested in buying it one day.

Father and son said that the formula to keep a small sporting goods company alive in today’s world of internet sales and big business isn’t exactly that complicated. They offer a wide range of goods and always have friendly customer service.

Pete’s Surplus continues to offer surplus military supplies, Red Wing and lacrosse boots, Carhartt apparel, groceries, fishing tackle and bait, hunting and camping gear, ammunition, and snacks and treats including fresh pastries from the New London Bakery. There is also self-service petrol with a premium petrol pump without ethanol. Propane is also available.

In other words, Pete’s Surplus has pretty much everything for those who enjoy the great outdoors. The good news is that there seem to be more of us, according to Jon. He has seen an increase in the number of customers looking for outdoor items over the past few years.

The summer season is the busiest in business, attracting a mix of local customers, campers, and seasonal cabin owners visiting the area. Jon said he continues to be impressed with how many people visit Sibley State Park and how they come from so many different locations in the state and beyond.

The same applies to traffic on the two motorways that converge here. Fall can be very busy with hunters stopping by on their excursions on Highway 9 to the Dakotas and west, Jon explained.

Father and son love to hunt, and both are avid trap shooters. Troy was inducted into the Minnesota Trapshooting Association Hall of Fame in 2014.

Running a retail store can be challenging when it comes to enjoying these outdoor activities as a father and son duo. By definition, a retail business requires working when other people aren’t, Jon explained.

But nobody wanted it any other way. Both said that they enjoy helping people in the store and the friendly banter with customers, whom they mostly know by name.

Troy is conscious of the loss of many bait and sporting goods stores like his. He can point down the street and name the bait shops and resorts that have closed in recent years.

Both of them attribute their optimism in good part to all of the store’s loyal customers. “We know people can shop anywhere,” said Troy. “But when they come back to you, I hear service and friendliness. Come here and you can touch things. “

The Haverlys said they enjoy the independence of running their own business but never lose sight of the fact that customers are their bosses. Troy said, “Without the people we wouldn’t be here. (We are) not paid by anyone unless we sell something. “

According to Jon and Troy Haverly of Pete’s Surplus in rural New London, Minnesota, small outdoor sports stores have a future despite competition from large retail stores and the Internet. Location matters, and being in the middle of an area with plenty of camping, hunting, and fishing options makes a difference. Photo of the store near the intersection of Minnesota Highway 9 and US Highway 71 in September 2021. West Central Tribune / Tom Cherveny