BUSINESS PROFILE: Grande Depot, St. Cloud
Grande Depot is packed with unique holiday gift ideas and goodies, housed in a historic train depot
BY SCOTT THOMA
The Grande Depot of St. Cloud has taken history to a new level.
In fact, the original Soo Line Train Depot that was first built in Eden Valley in 1912, and then moved to its current location seven miles west of St. Cloud overlooking the intersection of State Highway 23 and Interstate Highway 94, is now part of the upper floor of the large two-story specialty shop.
The depot was moved to Roscoe in 1976, and then to its current location in 1980, where it was jacked up as the main floor of the current building was constructed underneath. This was by design in order for it to be more visible to drivers on the highway. The building was then used as a supper club and then an antique mall before current owner Tim Miller purchased it in 2006 and turned it into the Grande Depot, which opened in 2008.
Today, the store houses a myriad of specialty departments such as Gourmet Food, Culinary, Children’s, Boutique, Home Decor, Seasonal, Candy, and Christmas. There is also Cork & Cask, a popular wine and spirit shoppe that features daily wine tasting.
The Grande Depot is run by six outgoing women that have been dubbed “The Magnificent Six” by a customer because of their love for the job and one another, and the success of the business.
“We all get along very well, and we each have ideas to make the place better,” said Jodie Friebe, the Chief Finance Officer of Grande Depot. ‘We are always trying new things here.”
Those “Magnificent Six” include Friebe, Cindy Kunkel, General Manager/Senior Buyer; Judy Mueller, Food Buyer/Office Assistant; Alicia Ludwig, Buyer/Shipping & Receiving; Becky Brown-Helget, General Buyer/Cork & Cask Manager; and Angie Mosman, Buyer/Designer. Ludwig has been with Grande Depot since it opened 14 years ago.
There are also 19 other employees that understand the needs of the customers and are more than willing to assist in any way they can.
“We love our customers and we love our job,” said Mueller. “We really enjoy coming to work every day.”
“We work hard together, but we also have a lot of fun,” said Kunkel. “That’s one reason why we’ve been so successful.”
The Grande Depot is open seven days a week, and the many different departments allow customers to make this a one-stop shopping trip.
“My vehicle has a mind of its own when I get near this place,” joked Sue C., a longtime customer from St. Joseph. “It seems my blinker goes off whenever I get close, so I figure I’d better turn in. It really is one of those places that you will want to go to over and over.”
The Grande Depot is well known for its holiday-themed displays, but Christmas comes early at this establishment that entices customers not only with the 11 different themes they have going on during the holidays, but also for the many enticing aromas.
“We will even put a turkey in the oven in order for customers to get that holiday feeling,” said Friebe. “We have a full retro kitchen that we use for some of the things we make and sell here.”
There is also the smell of fresh coffee emitting from the coffee grinder, as well as candles, home fragrances, soaps, lotions and more.
“If it smells good, I usually buy it,” said Anna G., as her husband nodded in agreement. “That’s one of the reasons I come in here.”
“This is one of the most beautiful places to shop,” said Wendy W. "I absolutely am in love with the log cabin look and the old-fashioned but modern kitchen. What an amazing selection of goods, too. And two floors of it. I’m never disappointed here.”
The historical value is also something that customers appreciate. The ticket booth and clock from the original depot remain. The ticket booth now displays jewelry on the upper floor, which has been expanded beyond the depot portion without spoiling the historic value.
“The men that come in really like looking at the ticket booth,” said Friebe. “You can really envision this being a train depot at one time.”
Christmas is the big event here as the store is beautifully decorated for Christmas beginning in October with 11 themes throughout the two floors that entice people of all ages to get into the holiday spirit.
The themes include “Gnomes and Santas”, “Nutcracker,” “Alpine Skiing Village,” “Cardinals,” “Yuletide,” “Gentlemen’s Tree,” “Camping,” “Inspirational” (nativity, angels, churches, etc.), “Toy Town,” “Retro,” and “Woodland” (deer, beers, nature, etc.).
“If this place doesn’t put you in the holiday spirit, then nothing will,” said Heather T. “It’s a great place to shop during the year, but it’s amazing when they have it decked out for the holidays.”
There is also an elevator to make it easier for customers visiting the second floor.
“I love stopping at this shop,” said Diana B. “So much to love in one place. Highly recommended. Yummy foods, great gadgets, clothing, wine, chocolates .... what more could you want?”
The Grande Depot is located at 8318 State Highway 23. They are open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Cork & Cask is open the same except on Sunday when it is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information, call 320-257-5500 or Cork & Cask at 320-257-5484. Also visit them on their website at www.thegrandedepot.com or on Facebook.
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