Cullen's opens today in new location

WILLMAR -- When Rick and Kelley Dahle moved to Willmar from Denver, Colo., to open Cullen's Home Center in 2000, they had a store with 3,000 square feet.

WILLMAR -- When Rick and Kelley Dahle moved to Willmar from Denver, Colo., to open Cullen's Home Center in 2000, they had a store with 3,000 square feet.

It didn't take long until they moved into a larger location with 8,600 square feet.

Now they're taking an even bigger step. This month Cullen's Home Center is moving next to the Skylark Center, in the former Holm Brothers Hardware and Sport Shop building. The store's first day of business in its new location is today.

The move will allow Cullen's to nearly triple its space and increase its visibility on the highly traveled South First Street corridor.

Dahle calls it "an ideal location."


"We felt like this building provided an opportunity to be in the heart of the retail sales in Willmar," he said. "When we completely finish it off and have everything in here, it's going to look like a nice home center, a nice store."

With more than 18,000 square feet, the new location also will significantly expand the store's ability to showcase what it can offer, from cell phones to home appliances to electronics.

For instance, the electronics department is being doubled. So is the display space for fireplaces and energy-efficient corn stoves.

With more room to display home appliances, the Cullen's staff won't have to rely on brochures to point out various models and features.

"We'll double the amount of refrigerators, washers, dryers," Dahle said. "Now they'll get to see the product instead of having to depend on a picture."

Shoppers' attention will be grabbed with a series of nine kitchen vignettes being installed, ranging from high-end, high-tech appliances, cabinets and countertops to standard, affordable products. Each component will be individually priced so customers can shop and compare, Dahle said.

"You can actually look at something and get an idea for what a remodel will cost," he said.

Cullen's building division will offer a selection of doors, windows and builder's products such as insulation.


There's a parts and service department for household appliances.

The store has a home accents department that features lamps, mirrors, pictures, wall hangings and even soap.

Outside, there'll be additional room to display children's play sets.

The new location is better for customer parking as well, Dahle pointed out.

Two other businesses plan to sublet space in Cullen's new location: The Water Doctor, which has had a kiosk in Cullen's previous location, and Steve's Vac Shack.

Both businesses will mesh well with Cullen's products and services, Dahle said. "We like the synergy."

Remodeling of the new space, which involves removing and adding some walls and redecorating, will be finished some time in September. Cullen's is doing most of the work itself, Dahle said. Several employees have been working their usual retail shift during the day and then working as late as 11 p.m. to help ready the new location.

The layout and the design of the new space will quadruple the overall visibility of each department in Cullen's showroom, Dahle said.


"We've always felt fortunate that people were willing to drive over the bridge to see us at our old location. Now the exposure from the cars driving by is 10 times greater," he said.

He figures the biggest challenge will be to carve out Cullen's identity as the new occupant of a building long known by the Holm Brothers name.

"It's not a bad thing. They were very good for the community," he said of Holm Brothers. "We're going to do our best to establish our own identity. I think it's going to take time."

Although the retail market for home centers is highly competitive, Cullen's is positioned to hold its own, Dahle said.

The store belongs to a national buying group which enables it to help keep its prices competitive, he said.

"We guarantee our prices. We're locally owned and operated. We have a huge selection and we service what we sell. That's what we think is our difference," he said. "We truly appreciate your business. Every washer, every television is important and we appreciate people supporting local business."

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