Assistance from the Southwest Initiative Foundation’s (SWIF) Business Finance Program is helping to keep a long-standing Spicer hardware business going.
Mark Bonnema is the new owner of Spicer’s Bonnema Hardware & Flooring, Inc., formerly known as Vegdahl’s Hardware, which had operated for more than five decades. Vegdahl’s was the last hardware store open in the New London-Spicer area. Vegdahl’s was owned and operated by Hilmer and Evelyn Vegdahl, later run by Evelyn and her daughter and son-in-law, Susan and Don Swenson. After Hilmer, Susan, and Evelyn passed away, the family put the business up for sale.
Mark says it would have been a blow to the community to lose its last source of hardware services, and that sentiment, along with encouragement from friends, was enough motivation for him to purchase the business.
Carpeting and contracting have been two of Mark’s specialties for nearly three decades, so one element of the business transaction that was attractive to him, is the 8,000 square feet toward the front of the Spicer store dedicated to a flooring line, including carpet, vinyl, and laminate flooring.
The back half of the store, about 9,000 square feet, houses the plumbing, electrical, housewares, sporting goods, lawn and garden, and painting sections. Employees at the store provide advice, cut keys, screens, and glass, facilitate carpet cleaning supply rentals, and otherwise keep the full-service hardware store operational.
“The foundation is proud to have worked with Mark, the bank and the EDC to develop a financing package for this great project,” said SWIF Vice President Scott Marquardt. “This is a wonderful example of entrepreneurship and business retention in our region.”
Lake Region Bank of New London financed the major portion of the business acquisition, which was finalized in January. SWIF and the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar EDC assisted with final gap funding that will allow Mark to add inventory to the store’s already robust selection.
“We’ll add a few new lines of product,” Mark says. “It was very easy,” he added about the loan process.
“More and more people are taking on weekend projects and the small hometown hardware store is a place they trust to answer their questions,” Mark says about the importance of providing a local service.
The business is located on Hwy. 23 on Spicer’s main thoroughfare, and is open Mon. through Sat. from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sun. from noon to 4 p.m.
Business loan programs through SWIF help communities and businesses throughout southwest Minnesota by providing gap lending. In 2001, SWIF added a micro lending program to support small businesses and people looking for self-employment opportunities.
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