History Meets History

by | Nov 2021

Faribault Woolen Mill Co. Lake Minnetonka wool blanket.

Photos: Faribault Woolen Mill Co.

“… indoor nesting and outdoor living is going to continue …”

After opening a new retail store in downtown Excelsior’s historic Miller Block Building on Water Street in March, Faribault Woolen Mill Co. will greet its first winter holiday season with new product lines, which hit the shelves this autumn.

“Our store has gotten off to a fantastic start,” says Faribault Woolen Mill president and COO Ross Widmoyer, noting that the store’s expansion to Excelsior was influenced, in part, by an incumbent fan base in the Lake Minnetonka area, as well as the iconic location on Water Street. “We knew the location was going to be great, but we really lucked out with the opportunity to go into the building we’re in, which is a circa 1900 development,” he says.

The historic nature of the Miller Block Building in many ways complements the Faribault Woolen Mill’s legacy. Not only is it the oldest Minnesota-based manufacturing company still in operation, it’s also one of the last two vertically integrated mills in the country. (There’s another one in Oregon.)

Faribault Woolen Mill Co. store in Excelsior.

Over the course of the pandemic, the business faced many of the same challenges and uncertainties experienced by other local companies, but Widmoyer says it also underwent a Renaissance over quarantine.

Since March 2020, Faribault Woolen Mill has developed and introduced over 100 new products to the marketplace, ranging from artist-designed throws to pillows. “This idea of indoor nesting and outdoor living is going to continue for some time,” Widmoyer says.

The pandemic also influenced the business’s storefront strategy. “Our feeling is that as people were reacting and dealing with COVID-19, the idea of being in the neighborhood was going to be a prevalent thing not only during the pandemic, but we believe coming out of the pandemic, as well,” Widmoyer says.

With plans to open a retail store in Duluth this spring, Faribault Woolen Mill continues to look to the future while staying tightly knit to its past.

Gift Giving Guide

Widmoyer highlights some of his favorite picks from the Faribault Woolen Mill catalog.

For the First-Timer:

Lake Minnetonka Map Wool Throw: “The lake and city map blankets would be an obvious choice; they’re just excellent gift-giving items. It’s a beautiful weave, a place that speaks to someone’s passions and a great hand-feel …” ($195)

Lake Minnetonka Pillow Case: “These pillows will also be fantastic gift-giving items for someone who really wants to get a feel for the quality of our products.” ($95)

For the Faribault Woolen Mill Fan:

Wool Totes: “We’re coming out this fall with a line of men’s and women’s apparel, as well as men’s and women’s bags. We’ll have wool-leather combination tote bags, as well as duffel bags, which will make fantastic gift-giving items. On the apparel side, we’ll have a whole line of women’s shawls [and] a line of men’s and women’s sweaters.” ($195)

Faribault Woolen Mill Co.
234 Water St., Excelsior; 952.474.3676
Facebook: Faribault Woolen Mill Co.
Instagram: @faribaultmill


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