2.18.2015

Faribault Woolen Mills Factory Store, Faribault, MN


On a snowy Monday afternoon, I made my way, very much on purpose, to the Faribault Woolen Mills Factory Store in Faribault, MN. I'd wanted to stop for some time, and this was the perfect chance. Below you'll find some history about the company, see the products they have on sale in the store, and hopefully start thinking about your own trip to this historic place.

The History
Established in 1865, this mill has been providing much of America with warmth, comfort, and familiarity straddling three centuries. They started as a horse-drawn mill, but converted to water (seen below) some time after. They have made their name on a number of items that many people come to know and love, namely: military wool blankets, stadium blankets, and even to this day, fine wool merchandise like blankets, throws, scarves, and more. If you'd like to know more before you go, I would encourage you to check their heritage link out HERE.

After closing the factory in 2009, it was reopened in 2011 by Chuck Mooty, a former DQ CEO (yes, the ice cream company). This is a good thing as FWM is the state's oldest manufacturer and it would be a shame to loose that history, especially having seen it for myself.  To read a bit more on the topic, go HERE.

As I walked into the space, met some of their employees at the "front of house", and even dogs... I got the distinct sense that this was now being run as a fashion brand... something of high-quality that people aspire to purchase. A person in the city of Faribault, during my second stop, mentioned that George Clooney ordered a bunch of the blankets as gifts for people involved in the film Monuments Men... so they must be doing something right.



Need I say more?
Below this reproduced sign, you'll find a quick, thorough history of the brand and the building. It was very informative in a museum-like layout.
These big shots of their production greet you as you walk in the front door.
The Products
Man oh, man! Wool time is divine! If you thought you were going to be seeing silks, or some other material, you need to get your head checked. This place is chock o' block full of wool and wool-blend items. They're all gorgeous, not scratchy, and handmade in the USA.

Now rest assured, there are many regular-priced items in the store, as it should be. And prices can be a bit off-putting to those not accustomed to purchasing made in the USA products or quality. Blankets, in varying sizes, can run from $65 (for a recycled wool throw) all the way up to prices in the $400 range.

But before you write off the visit, know that they have a 40% off retail seconds area. You can find many of the same styles, patterns and colors as the first-run items, but perhaps with a small flaw in the pattern or finish. I say either way, you're going to get something that you will cherish, value, and keep for decades.



Some of their famous military versions... others services available in the store and online too



I liked the black-white-red one in the bottom middle


Wool cloak anyone?
Nothing wrong with a good herringbone pattern...
The Low-Down
Just friggin' get to this place! It's increasingly rare to see something like this in America, let alone in a small farming community in south-eastern MN. Why not make a day or weekend of it? You could get a small hotel room or B&B, check out the lovely downtown, spend the evening in a local saloon, and get brunch the next morning. This could be done in almost any small town in the US.

Final Thought
Can anyone tell me why the proper noun "Faribault" is pronounced as "Fair-bow"? I get the "bault" pronunciation, but not the "Fari" part... wouldn't that just be "fairy". Ho-hum.

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