German immigrant Friedrich A. Scheele moves to Sabin, Minnesota with his wife Augusta and their children, Margaret and Frederick M., who help plant potatoes on their 3 acres of land. These were the seeds from which the SCHEELS legacy would grow. With $300 earned from the first harvest, he places a down payment on a small hardware and general merchandise store.
Frederick M. Scheel, son of Friedrich A. Scheele, returns from serving in the U.S. Navy during WWI and takes over ownership of SCHEELS, which had broadened to include groceries and farm equipment.
SCHEELS purchases a hardware store in Moorhead, MN and soon expands the business into North Dakota with stores in several communities including Fargo, the future flagship location. In 1930, SCHEELS begins opening small general merchandise farm stores across North Dakota and Minnesota. Over the next two decades, these stores open in Casselton, ND; Hillsboro, ND; Jamestown, ND; Fairmount, ND; Breckenridge, MN; and Wheaton, MN.
The top-selling brand at SCHEELS is Zenith. SCHEELS offers a selection of Zenith stoves, washers, and freezers as well as Zenith automobile tires, hammers, hay forks, and bicycles. In 1937, a deluxe Zenith bike sells for $26.99, a Remington bolt-action .22 sells for $5.65, and the best-selling fishing rod and reel sell for $2.29 and $2.89, respectively.
Frederick B. Scheel, son of Frederick M. Scheel, joins the business after returning home from WWII and a tour of duty as a Marine Corps Aviator flying an F4U Corsair in the South Pacific. Today, SCHEELS honors this family history of military service by supporting many local units before and after deployment, donating to numerous memorials, and contributing to organizations that support our veterans.
Charles Scheel, brother of Fred B. Scheel, joins the business while attending North Dakota State University. Upon Charles' graduation, the two brothers become partners. In the following years, they expand the business with the help of their father, opening new stores in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana.
Charles Scheel becomes company president, while his brother Fred B. Scheel continues as director and chairman. Fred’s son, Steve D. Scheel, starts working part-time at the age of 8 in the Fargo store.
Robert Alin and Lloyd Paulson join the business and quickly become SCHEELS partners. Throughout their lives, both Robert and Lloyd would give back generously to their communities through organizations such as Dollars for Scholars and the United Way— establishing a legacy of service that is reflected in SCHEELS values today.
After serving as a Marine fighter pilot, Robert Scheel, the third son of Fred M. Scheel, joins the family business in 1959.
Over the next six years, the Moorhead store relocates, doubling its size to 20,000 square feet; a second Fargo store opens; and a new St. Cloud, MN location becomes the first SCHEELS store to open in a mall.
SCHEELS becomes an incorporated company in North Dakota and expands the business throughout the Midwest opening new stores in Montana, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Iowa.
Each store begins to offer athletic shoes and clothing, including the new location at the West Acres Mall in Fargo (pictured). Steve D. Scheel starts working full-time at the family business after serving in the U.S. Army as a combat engineer.
In the coming years, Steve would work to convince his father, Fred B. Scheel, that sporting goods are the future of the company, not hardware.
On October 1, 1974, SCHEELS partnerships convert to a North Dakota Corporation with an executive committee board. Steve D. Scheel closes the last farm store in Casselton, ND in 1976. The business expands to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and adds additional stores in North Dakota, Iowa, and Montana.
Despite initial doubts from his father, Steve D. Scheel pushes for a larger selection of sporting goods at the Sioux Falls location, and his efforts prove successful—by 1980, the store converts entirely to sporting goods, and other stores follow suit.
By 1984, with sporting goods accounting for about half of the business, it was clear that larger stores would need to be built to accommodate the vast selection of activities—from hunting and camping gear to athletic apparel and footwear.
Five years later, the first "All Sports Superstore" opened in Grand Forks, ND. This was considered the flagship store at just over 30,000 square feet.
Steve M. Scheel joins the business as a part-time shoe stocker. Within two weeks, he was selling shoes. His father, Steve D. Scheel, becomes president and CEO while making developing leaders a top priority for the company. Throughout the 90s, stores open across the Midwest, including the first Wisconsin store.
SCHEELS converts from family ownership to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, or ESOP. This plan empowers every associate as an employee‑owner and gives them great pride in the success and growth of the company. Today, SCHEELS remains 100% employee‑owned and is one of the largest ESOP companies in the USA.
When the new sporting goods store is built in Fargo, ND, the existing Fargo store converts into a partnership between Robert Scheel and Robert Alin—returning the selection to exclusively hardware. Today it is known as SCHEELS Home & Hardware, the only remaining hardware store in the company.
The Next Level 1998 | The Next Level
Steve D. Scheel’s vision is to make SCHEELS a destination, rather than just a retailer. Stores begin to feature new attractions, such as the centerpiece tree in the Iowa City store—which opens at 105,000 square feet as the first two-level SCHEELS.
Steve Hulbert becomes President after leading several stores and serving as Executive Vice President. Throughout the early 2000s, SCHEELS expands under his leadership—the first store in Nebraska opens and several stores relocate, upgrading to larger locations.
As SCHEELS celebrates its 100th Anniversary, SCHEELS.com is launched as an informational website—later selling gift cards in 2005 and minimal product in 2006. Today, the site offers a massive product selection with convenient features including curbside pickup and live chat with customer service.
The first store with the signature SCHEELS Ferris wheel opens in Omaha, NE, providing an exciting new retail experience for customers. Later that year, the Des Moines, IA store opens as the World’s Largest All Sports Store at 179,000 square feet.
In The Family 2006 | Family Business
In 2006, a new flagship store opens in Fargo, ND at 196,000 square feet, breaking Des Moines SCHEELS' record as the world's largest all sports store. SCHEELS' Corporate Offices open on the west side of the new Fargo store.
This same year, company President Steve Hulbert retires after more than 40 years in the business. Steve M. Scheel steps into the position of President, entering the fifth generation of family leadership at SCHEELS. His father, Steve D. Scheel, becomes CEO/Chairman.
SCHEELS tops the World’s Largest All Sports Store record for the third time when it opens the Sparks, NV store at 295,000 square feet. This new store is nearly 100,000 square feet larger than the previous record store in Fargo, built two years earlier, and features dozens of attractions—this includes the first walk-through SCHEELS aquarium.
Just one month after the grand opening, the Great Recession begins—plummeting retail sales across the nation and suddenly making the new store’s investment a huge risk. However, by earning the trust and loyalty of their customers and associates, SCHEELS weathers the recession, free of any layoffs or downsizing. Nearly two years later, construction is complete on two new stores, each over 200,000 square feet with the first SCHEELS locations in Illinois and Utah.
Steve D. Scheel introduces this mantra to encourage leaders to empower associates: "Take good people, lead them by example, immerse them in our culture, and help them to become great at what they do while enjoying their career or part-time work at SCHEELS."
In 2015, Bill Nelson becomes president, overseeing the operations of 6,000+ associates. The SCHEELS family legacy continues as Steve M. Scheel becomes CEO, and Steve D. Scheel becomes Chairman of the Board—and self-proclaimed “head cheerleader”. SCHEELS continues to flourish as the first stores in Kansas and Colorado open in 2015 and 2017.
SCHEELS surpasses its own record as the World’s Largest All Sports Store with the opening of The Colony, TX location. The 331,000 square-foot store features more than 85 specialty shops and attractions for the entire family.
In 2021, Bill Nelson retires and Todd Anderson takes over as president. This same year, a 220,000 square-foot store opens in Colorado Springs, CO.
SCHEELS has 29 locations across 13 states, featuring the world's largest selection of sporting goods, apparel, footwear, and more from top brands.
But what truly sets SCHEELS apart is a strong dedication to people by empowering associates, providing first-class customer service, and giving back to local communities. To help achieve this goal, SCHEELS donates between 8 to 10% of profits annually to organizations in its local communities.
SCHEELS looks forward to continuing its legacy of exceptional customer service and one-of-a-kind retail experiences both online and in stores. As SCHEELS expands, it will continue to pursue the original mission set forth in the 1970s, “We do good in our communities,” by being an active partner in its communities and striving to be the best retailer in the USA in the eyes of customers, associates, and business partners.
SCHEELS is coming to Missoula, MT in the fall of 2021. In 2023, we'll open stores in Chandler, AZ and Wichita, KS!