After 38 years, Andersens retire from retail business

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 1, 2003

Barb Andersen admits it might not be easy to keep herself from going behind the counter and helping a customer when she goes inside one of the two Albert Lea Hallmark stores from now on.

But as of Nov. 1, the stores no longer belong to Herb and Barb Andersen. The couple opted to sell their downtown and Northbridge stores to their general manager, Beth (Habben) Doyle, and retire.

&uot;I’ll miss the people,&uot; Herb admitted.

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There’s no question of that. It’s been a common sight to see Herb standing outside his store, talking with acquaintances, or greeting someone inside the store and helping them find just the right item.

Retirement is a big change for the Andersens. They’ve been married for 48 years, and have worked side by side all that time. The couple moved to Albert Lea in 1965 and has operated retail stores in the community for all those years.

The couple lived in Fairmont for about nine years until purchasing Andersen’s Fashions here in 1965. The store, located where The Constant Reader and InnoVision Eye Care are now, had been here since August 1959.

Even with Andersen’s Fashions being a women’s clothing store, Herb managed to do some selling along with being the bookkeeper.

In 1982, the couple purchased the nearby Hallmark Thoughtfulness Shop in downtown Albert Lea. They doubled the store’s size, adding a mix in inventory and more gifts. Later that year, they purchased a Hallmark store in Cannon Falls, which they operated until 1992.

The Andersens sold their women’s clothing store in 1983. It wasn’t long, however, until they decided to open a Hallmark store in Skyline Mall.

They would operate that store from June 1987 until this summer.

On Oct. 1, 1993, they took the plunge and purchased Haas Hallmark at Northbridge Mall. In April of the following year, they moved to a larger store in the mall.

The couple has enjoyed the retail business, Herb said. &uot;With the women’s clothing business we traveled a lot, and with the gifts, we’d go to Atlanta, Chicago and Minneapolis for shows,&uot; he said.

They’ve also been grateful for their wonderful employees.

&uot;We have been so fortunate to have the employees that we have, as well as the loyal customers,&uot; Barb said.

The couple feels good about selling the store to Beth Doyle and her husband, Brett. Barb said Beth has worked for them since she was 16 and never missed a summer or vacation when in school. She has served as general manager of their three stores for the past 2 1/2 years, Herb added.

&uot;It’s nice to sell it to a real hometown individual who cares about Albert Lea,&uot; Barb added.

Other than staying in Albert Lea, the couple has no immediate plans for retirement.

&uot;This is home,&uot; Herb said.

But they do plan to make more use of their lake home in northern Minnesota and to spend time with their family. Their son, Tom, is a colonel in the U.S. Air Force. He and Sherri have a son and daughter. Daughter Julie

and husband John Labosky have a son and daughter as well and live in Minneapolis.

(Contact Geri McShane at, or call 379-3436.)