Gamble-Skogmo Inc. was a conglomerate of retail chains and other businesses that was headquartered in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Business operated or franchised by Gamble-Skogmo included Gambles hardware and auto supply stores, Woman's World and Mode O'Day clothing stores, J.M. McDonald department stores, Leath Furniture stores, Tempo and Buckeye Mart Discount Stores, Howard's Brandiscount Department Stores, Rasco Variety Stores, Sarco Outlet Stores, Toy World, Rasco-Tempo, Red Owl Grocery, Snyder Drug and the Aldens mail-order company. In Canada, retail operations consisted of Macleods Hardware, based in Winnipeg, MB, and Stedmans Department Stores, based in Toronto.
Born at the end of the 19th century, Bertin Gamble and Philip Skogmo were boyhood friends in Arthur, North Dakota (30 miles northwest of Fargo). As young men they each came separately to Minnesota and worked in a variety of jobs. In 1920, they pooled their resources, borrowed some money and bought an auto dealership in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. Soon they discovered the sale of auto parts and accessories was the most profitable part of their car dealership. In March 1925, they opened the first Gamble Auto Supply store in St. Cloud, Minnesota. In 1928, they moved their headquarters to Minneapolis. By 1929, the chain consisted of 55 stores in five states. Eventually, Gamble stores were franchised, and by 1939 there were 1,500 Gamble dealers and 300 corporate stores in 24 states. In 1947, Gamble-Skogmo went public with its first offering of common stock. Philip Skogmo died in 1949.
From the mid-1940s to the end of the 1970s, Gamble and Skogmo diversified their businesses into many new endeavors, including a discount division, financial services, real estate, and retail businesses such as Aldens mail order company, Womans World Shops, Red Owl Grocery and Snyder Drug stores. At the end of this period of growth, Gamble-Skogmo was the 15th largest retailer in the United States with 4,300 stores and 26,000 employees in 39 states and Canada. In 1977, Bert Gamble retired from the company. In 1978, they attempted a takeover of Washington, D.C.-based retail conglomerate Garfinckel, Brooks Brothers, Miller & Rhoads, Inc. Gamble-Skogmo purchased a 20-percent share from the Joseph R. Harris family, thereby gaining a controlling interest in the conglomerate. A court suit resulted in an agreement that Gamble-Skogmo would not acquire any more stock in Garfinckel.
In 1980, it was sold to the Wickes Corporation of California. The purchase was highly leveraged, the combined companies struggled, and in 1982 Wickes filed for bankruptcy. In the subsequent reorganization, the Gamble-Skogmo empire was sold off in pieces or, in the case of Aldens, closed. In 1986, Bert Gamble died. Tempo and Buckeye Mart stores in Ohio and Michigan were sold to Fisher's Big Wheel in the late 1970s, with the remaining Tempo stores transferred to the Rasco Variety Store Division.
Red Owl Today
Grocery wholesaler Supervalu Inc. obtained the rights to the Red Owl name in 1988. As of 2009[update], there are two Red Owl Grocery stores: Masons Red Owl in Green Bay, Wisconsin and Brownlow's Red Owl in Le Roy, Minnesota.
- "They chased a dream: Gamble-Skogmo stores built from long friendship that began in Arthur," Fargo (N.D.) Forum, March 13, 1999
- "Garfinckel's Battles Gamble-Skogmo Takeover Bid," The Washington Post, Sep 2, 1978, p. E1.
- "Harris Family Got Premium for Stock," The Washington Post, Sep 15, 1978, p. E1.
- "Garfinckel Tells of Merger Bid," The Washington Post, Jan 4, 1979, p. D9.
- "Wickes to Close Aldens Catalog Operation in Chicago," Associated Press, December 17, 1982
- "Gamble-Skogmo To Dissolve Division By Sale, Transfer". The Wall Street Journal. 8 November 1978. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
- "Red Owl Logo Returns to LeRoy Grocery", Laura Gossman, Rochester Post-Bulletin, January 7, 2009