By Chad Koenen


When the clock struck midnight on New Years Eve, one of the oldest businesses in New York Mills began writing the final chapter in its book. For nearly 100 years Coop Services has been serving the needs of the greater NY Mills area, but on Friday morning the large coop officially sold its over 10,000 square foot Hardware Hank and C-Store to Lakes Area Coop. 

While the store will no longer be under management of Coop Services, it will still be operated by a locally owned coop that has many of the same values and beliefs that helped Coop Services provide quality customer service and products for nearly a century.  

“We’ve been a coop since 1924 and we believe in the way a coop does business so that was important to us,” said Coop Services General Manager Ken Peltier. 

The new C-store and hardware store opened in 2013 and has 24-hour pay at the pump, Husqvarna mowers, snowblowers and more, as well as an expansive paint department. Basically, the store has become a one-stop shop for farming, gardening, hardware and maintenance supplies in the greater NY Mills area. 

While the store is under new ownership, Peltier said customers will likely not notice much of a change as nearly all of the employees will be staying on staff at the NY Mills store. He said Lakes Area Coop also has the resources to be able to make continued improvements to the facility, while also keeping a local ownership touch for the community.

“Basically all it changes is the name on their paycheck,” said Peltier for the employees. “This makes sure a viable business stays here and Lakes Coop is at the caliber where it may be able to do some facility improvements in the future.”

Over the years the two coops have held a strong working relationship, which also included owning a C-store together in Dent before Lakes Area Coop purchased the store outright in 1999. At one point in time Lakes Area Coop also delivered propane for NY Mills and already has a number of customers in the greater NY Mills area. 

Lakes Area Coop General Manager Dale Tellinghuisen sees the purchase as a good fit for not only Lakes Area Coop, but also the patrons of Coop Services for years to come. 

“The store is a good fit for Lakes Area Coop because Lakes Area Coop has many customers in the community for purchasing and hauling milk, bulk feed, bulk fuel and propane,” said Tellinghuisen. “Lakes Area Coop is also familiar and comfortable with the C-Store and hardware business. Lakes Area Coop is excited to be able to continue to employ the great people that are in Lakes Area Coop at the store and look forward to being a bigger part of the NY Mills community.”

The idea of furthering their partnership really came to fruition several months ago when Peltier told the Coop Services shareholders of his intent to retire. The local coop had several options including finding a new general manager, or even talking to neighboring cooperatives about purchasing the local store. 

During a special meeting in November, Peltier said the response was overwhelmingly favorable to selling the local coop to the Perham-based Lakes Area Coop. He said the vote was approximately 98 percent in favor of selling the store to Lakes Area Coop.

For Lakes Area Coop, the NY Mills store presents an opportunity to grow its base in the area, while also giving NY Mills area customers the opportunity to expand the local store with new products and items over time. Tellinghuisen said anyone with ideas of what they would like to see in the NY Mills store should contact Lakes Area Coop. 

“Over time we want to keep the existing people, products and services now offered. Some of the differences customers will see immediately is the online portal to review invoices and also the local charge card will work at all Lakes Area Coop locations,” said Tellinghuisen. “We encourage everyone to look at the Lakes Area Coop website to learn more about Lakes Area Coop. We also have some future plans to add new products and services to this great business. Please contact us if you have ideas of things you would like to see.”

Even though Lakes Area Coop is a larger company than Coop Services, Tellinghuisen said it is still locally owned and operated. He said the company is excited about becoming an even bigger part of the NY Mills community.

“Lakes Area Coop is a larger company than Coop Services, but Lakes Area Coop is also a locally owned cooperative. We are committed to help each customer as an individual with your needs.  We are thrilled to be a part of the community. We want to thank the Coop Service patrons for the opportunity to serve you and welcome you as new owners of Lakes Area Coop,” he said. 

Over the next year Peltier said he will be working to close out Coop Services and dissolve the company. Shareholders will also receive a payment when the company is dissolved.