Pope County Museum A-Z is a continuing feature of our blog. Each week, I will highlight an item or items from our Museum collection.
This week’s item is a General Store – most specifically the Fremad Association.
The General Store was an early version of our current Big Box Stores. A person could buy groceries, fabric, shoes, farm equipment, and basic household appliances such as irons – all in one place. As towns grew, the shops became more specialized. A patron would need to visit a clothing store, a grocery store, or a farm supply store to find the specific items on his list. But in the very early days, one store would supply most of the needs.
In early Glenwood, that store was the Wollan Brothers Store – later known as the Fremad Association. In 1870, the Wollan Brothers (Nels, Michael and Casper) opened a store in White Bear Lake township. Within the next 2 years, Nels moved to Starbuck and Michael and Casper moved to Glenwood to open stores in each of those towns to take advantage of the coming N.P. Railroad. Michael and Casper bought an existing hardware store in Glenwood, but by 1874, they had moved to another, larger building and the store expanded its offerings & became a stock company. This was the age of the Grange agitation and many people wished to have a type of co-operative store in Glenwood. The Wollans instead offered stock to members of the community who wished to co-operate with them. The organization of stockholders was known as the Fremad Association. (Fremad is the Norwegian word for “forward” or “onward”.)
In 1893 a new brick building was built on the site of the original Glenwood store to expand the sales space. They carried everything from groceries to clothing. It was operated as a department store until it closed in 1949.