Anoka County has been on the radar of Warners’ Stellian, the family owned retail appliance retailer for many years.
The time was right to open Warners’ Stellian’s eighth retail location in Coon Rapids, its first in Anoka County, according to Jeff Warner, store manager who is among 10 third-generation Warners who work full time for the family business.
The store on 129th Avenue is located in a retail center space that formerly housed a medical clinic north of Highway 10 and east of Round Lake Boulevard. It opened for business in late August and there will be a grand opening Octoberfest after hours Thursday, Oct. 11, with beer, brats and German meats.
“We have been looking at Anoka County for a long time because we have been under the radar in the north metro,” Warner said.
According to Warner, there are 170,000 people living in the Anoka, Blaine, Coon Rapids, Andover, Ramsey and Champlin area.
“We don’t get as much exposure and we hope this store will help us make an impact,” Warner said.
The Coon Rapids store has 10,000 square feet of space, comparable to many of its other stores, although not as large as those Woodbury or Edina.
At first Warner thought the floor area might not be large enough to showcase all the Warners’ Stellian products, but it has all come together well, Warner said.
Besides washers and dryers, dishwashers, gas/electric ranges, microwaves, refrigerators/freezers and room air conditioners, Warners’ Stellian also sells water softeners and vacuums, he said.
“Not many people realize we sell floor care products,” Warner said.
According to Warner, Warners’ Stellian stocks 50 different brands of appliances, more than any of its competitors.
“We have more brand names than any other dealer,” Warner said.
And they have plenty of competition within two miles of the Coon Rapids store including Home Depot, Best Buy, Sears and Menards, he said.
Besides the wide choice of brand name appliances, what sets Warners’ Stellian apart from its competition, which it respects, is excellence in customer service from sales, delivery, installation to repairs, Warner said.
“We know we can do a better job than our competitors,” he said.
Warner’s grandfather, Jim Warner, purchased Steve and Lillian Fargas’ Stellian (a combination of their first names) appliance store at Snelling and Larpenteur in St. Paul some 50 years ago and renamed it Warners’ Stellian.
He had started work at the store as a salesperson in 1954.
Jim Warner’s nine children now own the company and four members of the Warner family actively operate the business.
The Snelling/Larpenteur location is still home to Warners’ Stellian, which now has stores in Minneapolis, Edina, Apple Valley, Maple Grove, Woodbury, Rochester and now Coon Rapids.
There are now 30 Warner family members among the more than 200 employees.
Warner at first thought he might look at something other than the family business as a career, but soon realized what an asset the business is to the family, he said.
“It’s a blessing to be able to work in a company that supports the entire family,” Warner said. “It’s extremely rewarding.”
Warner learned the business by going through what he called “Warners’ Stellian University” and began work full-time as a sales associate in 2003.
But before that while a student he worked in the company’s warehouse, then with his uncle as an installer, which Warner said gave him a great learning opportunity of what the company is all about and what it stands for.
“I got experience working with all appliances,” he said.
And his experience in sales dealing with customers has prepared him well to become a store manager, Warner said.
There were time when a customer would call with an emergency and no manager was available, so it would be up to him to deal with the problem, for example, if the refrigerator went out the day before Thanksgiving, he said.
Including Warner, the Coon Rapids store has nine employees, including three part-time workers, and is looking to fill more positions.
According to Warner, his goal for the store is to become an integral part of the community.
“We want people to think about us before anyone else when they want to buy an appliance,” Warner said.
Over the years, Warners’ Stellian has built a strong reputation among its customers, he said.
“There are people who have shopped at Warners’ Stellian for 30 years and won’t go anywhere else and tell their children to come here,” Warner said.
That customer loyalty comes from “doing the right thing,” he said.
Peter Bodley is at [email protected]