Hoigaard’s opened for business in St. Louis Park in May 1960 at 3550 South Highway 100. This highly visible Park business has a long history:
Conrad Hoigaard (b. @1875, Norway; d.1950) founded the business. He had learned sail making during a brief stint as a sailor, and starting in about 1879 he honed his skills at a tent and awning firm in Minneapolis. When he first opened his own business, the company’s products were limited to tents, tarps, and awnings. He soon expanded into tarps, fly nets, horse covers, cow blankets, and custom-made products.
The factory’s second location was 116 Washington Avenue N.
The business was moved to 30 Washington Avenue N.
The Company manufactured canvas products for the military during WWI.
The company moved into products such as sporting goods, directors’ chairs, and sun umbrellas.
The factory converted to wartime production and suspended retail sales for the duration. All 125 employees worked to produce gun mount covers, aircraft covers, machine covers, and tents.
Conrad’s son Cyrus J. Hoigaard (1910-1981) took over the business.
Conrad Hoigaard died in 1950.
In June 1954 St. Louis Park’s new garbage incinerator went into action. It was located right next to where Hoigaard’s would relocate in 1960, and would spew a fine white ash over Hoigaard’s property.
The Gateway area in Minneapolis had become an embarrassment to the City of Minneapolis, filled with liquor stores, bars, and flop houses. The wrecking ball of urban renewal eliminated the blight, but as a result, many businesses were displaced. Hoigaard’s took this opportunity to move to larger quarters, and purchased three acres in St. Louis Park from Charles Friedhem, who had excavated the property in the early 1950s. The new building had an expanded showroom that replaced the small showroom and a fleet of salesmen they had in Minneapolis.
An article in the Dispatch stated that “the company operates in 16 states and had gained national recognition for its unique, patented football field cover.”
The Ski Chalet was added to beef up sales in the off-season. Over 3,200 sq. ft. was added to the store to accommodate the demand for camping equipment.
The company was presented with the Apollo Award from the National Association of Summer and Casual Furniture Manufacturers of America for being the outstanding casual furniture store in America.
Tarps made by Hoigaards were used on football and baseball fields all over the country, including Big Ten schools and the Minnesota Vikings.
Hoigaard’s made one of their most unusual products in honor of a visit from the Beatles. Archie Walker owned the Volkswagen Dealership (West Side), which for years featured a revolving VW Beetle. In honor of the group from Liverpool, Archie decided to put a Beatle wig on his Beetle, and Hoigaard’s was up to the challenge, making the wig out of dyed mops sewn together.
Cyrus’s son Conrad J. Hoigaard II became President of the company in 1975.
The city incinerator was demolished, ending the shower of white ash over the area. Hoigaard’s expanded onto the land, keeping the chimney as an advertising landmark.
The area occupied by Hoigaard’s for 46 years was slated for redevelopment, and on October 21, 2006, the store moved to the western end of Miracle Mile on Excelsior Blvd. At that time the company dropped the patio furniture business to focus on skiing, camping, biking, and other outdoor sports equipment.
The design of the new store paid homage to the incinerator tower that had become a landmark and symbol of the old store.
In April 2013 Hoigaard’s was sold to Vail Resorts, to be part of Vail’s retail division, Specialty Sports Venture. The Hoigaard’s name was retained. See the story in the StarTribune.