Bomgaars will be moving into the old Shopko building, according to Tom Leners with the Madison County Development Group.
“We’re thrilled to announce that family owned and operated Bomgaars will be moving to Winterset,” Leners said. Store representatives have also announced plans for an upcoming “hiring fair.” A date for the hiring fair has not yet been announced. Watch the Madisonian and the Shopper for more details regarding the hiring fair.
Bomgaars is a family owned and operated supplier with 85 stores in Iowa, Colorado, Idaho, Nebraska, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wyoming that employee approximately 2,400 people.
The corporate office and distribution center are located in Sioux City, Iowa, where the company began in 1952.
Bomgaars stocks over 60,000 items in 13 major departments, including lawn and garden plus nursery, clothing and footwear, farm, pet and automotive supplies, paint, hardware, tools, housewares and toys.
A history of Bomgaars must begin with a little background on Mr. William H. Bomgaars. In the small town of Middleburg, Iowa, at the age of 18, he was operating a general store, selling gingham from the bolt, and crackers from a barrel. Also from this store, he stocked horse-drawn wagons with all the needs of the rural family and drove them on a farm route.
From this beginning, after various positions, including selling violin lessons in Chicago, and washing machines in South Dakota, Bill decided to venture out on his own. In 1931, in Sioux City, he borrowed $125.00 on his Army insurance to purchase a Model A Ford, and Mr. Bob Bowes, of Bowes Seal Fast, extended time credit for a beginning inventory of $125.00. Bill loaded his merchandise into the car and started out to build up a territory. By 1932, the Midwest was deep in depression and growth was very slow. However, by 1934 he was eating three meals a day on a regular schedule. Before this, he had been on an inventive program that let him eat breakfast, lunch or dinner, as the case may be, as soon as he made his first sale of the day.
In January 1944, the operation had expanded to the point where it could no longer be contained in their home, and was moved to the first down
town location at 819 Pearl St., in Sioux City, Iowa. At this time the work force consisted of two extra employees, Bill’s sister, Ann, in the office, and his brother, Gerald, as a salesman on the road.
In 1944 Sioux City sustained extensive damage from a major flood on the west side and the building had to be sand-bagged. The next move was to the building at 611 Pearl Street in 1945. The business consisted mainly of tire and repair materials. By 1946, Bomgaars became the jobber for NAPA automotive parts and had two office girls and four salesman traveling through the territory.
Harold Bomgaars (Bill’s son) graduated from the University of Iowa in 1947 and entered the business on a full time basis as a traveling salesman.
In July, 1952, Bill heard of an innovation in Grand Forks, ND, that caught his attention: the sending of fleet cards to farmers entitling them to discounts. Manufacturers at that time were selling at a discount to businesses on a fleet basis; that is, any business operating five or more fuel powered vehicles and/or equipment, were qualified to buy at a discount.
Bill’s wife, Tena, and Bill’s sister-in-law compiled the lists of people operating five or more vehicles from the tax roles in the county seats. It was in Milbank, SD, in 1952, that four men, including Bill Bomgaars, instituted the Mid-States buying group and Bomgaars went into the farm fleet business. Many new lines were added and this resulted in the beginning of more rapid growth, necessitating a move to larger quarters at 204 Fourth Street in 1955.
It is interesting to note that because business was so poor in 1952, when Bill first heard of the farm fleet program, he sent Harold on a trip to St. Louis to visit the office of the Ben Franklin stores with the idea of changing to that line of business.
Expansion began taking place in the form of opening branch stores, and the first one was in Yankton, SD, in 1956 and has continued to this present day.
The store said its mission is “to have what you need, when you need it, at the right price”.