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In 1987, with the foresight and good sense to make an opportunity a reality, Bruce Knowlan, already a seasoned business owner, along with his two friends from high school, thought that a liquor store would be a perfect addition to an empty corner that they passed every Friday when they met to play poker.
After high school, Bruce worked as a computer operator during the graveyard shift and trained dogs professionally during the day. He bought, ran and sold a dog kennel and then became the owner/operator of a gun club and skeet range, which he sold to start the liquor store with his two friends and partners.
Although he had owned and operated several businesses, he admits, "We knew nothing about the Liquor business! The three of us opened our doors on a hot July Monday morning for our first customer. He walked into our 3,000 square foot liquor store that was freshly stocked with twelve dozen kinds of beer, 30 types of wine, and an assortment of liquor and he asked for Snowshoe Grog. Not only did we not know if we had it we didn't even know what it was!"
They learned on the go and had one goal: to be able to pay the bills. Indeed, they were able to pay the bills and when opportunity knocked they answered again and again. They took advantage of opportunities in 1989, 1990, 1998, 2002, and twice in 2007 to open more stores. They currently employ forty-five full-time and part-time associates. From a simple beginning, they have grown to offer thousands of products in each of their five stores.
"Our philosophy is, take care of the customer, carry the products that they want and give them great service. That is exactly what CMDC did for us."
In 2007, Bruce first worked with CMDC to secure a SBA loan to help purchase Top Ten Wine & Spirits in Cottage Grove. Bruce shares, "We tried to do a SBA loan fifteen years prior. We received six inches of paperwork and after skimming it for two hours, I threw it away!" He was skeptical of going through the process again, but when his lender connected them with CMDC, he says, "It was amazing Scott, Mike and Donna made the process pain free. When it came to buy land and build our new store in Andover, it was a no-brainer to call CMDC. I would do it again in a heartbeat."
Northgate Liquors Andover
2288 Bunker Lake Blvd NW
Andover, MN 55304