Farm & Fleet poised for Grafton presence

Firm unveils plan to use former Shopko store in south commercial district to expand its state operations

THE FORMER SHOPKO building in Grafton’s South Commercial District was recently purchased by Blain’s Farm & Fleet, which expects to open a store at the site in 2022. The building has been vacant since 2019. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff

Blain’s Farm & Fleet recently announced it will be opening a Grafton store in the former Shopko building that has been vacant since 2019.

Community Development Director Jessica Wolff said the sale of the property at 1771 Wisconsin Ave. closed last week. Wolff said she was surprised to learn the company wanted to expand its presence given the popularity of online shopping.

“Our staff believes this will lead to a positive change in the village’s South Commercial District,” she said.

“This is a perfect fit, and we see this as leading to a resurgence in the South Commercial District.” 

Jane Gilbertson, Blain’s Farm & Fleet president, owner and CEO, said Grafton is an ideal location to open its 45th store.

“It’s not just about growing. It is about carefully selecting the right communities who truly appreciate our family-owned modern general store,” she stated in a press release.

“We are very selective about the locations where we choose to grow because we are in it for the long haul. Unlike other retailers who close stores regularly, we have never left a community where we have opened a store.”

The new Grafton store will occupy 94,500 square feet and feature an automotive service center, full drive-through area and small-engine repair center, in addition to selling clothing, footwear, tools and hardware, paint, home goods, pet products and gardening supplies.

Wolff said the company plans to build an addition along the north end of the property and update the building’s facade. She said the company will have to submit a site plan for the project and need multiple conditional-use permits for a drive-through, automotive center and outdoor display.

She expects the site plan and conditional-use permits to be reviewed by the village’s Plan Commission on July 27. 

Officials said the retail store is expected to create 100 jobs that will be a mix of full-time and part-time positions, including store managers, cashiers, department product experts, and auto service technicians and managers. The company is planning to host job fairs in the summer and fall of 2022.

Construction of the new addition is projected to be completed by fall of 2022 and open that year.

Blain’s Farm & Fleet was founded in 1955 and currently has 43 stores in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and Iowa. It will also be opening a location in Rhinelander at the same time as Grafton.

“(Grafton and Rhinelander) are two communities where we have wanted to be part of for a long time because the quality products we serve complement the quality of life these communities represent,” Gilbertson said, noting the company wants to expand its presence in its hometown state.

In 2018, Mills Fleet Farm was pegged to build a store in the Town of Grafton between I-43 and Port Washington Road, just north of the Grafton Commons, but the plan never came to fruition. 

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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