Related: 40x40 List
Date completed: Thursday, December 10, 2015
Celebrating their 150th birthday this year, Faribault Woolen Mills is one of the great comeback stories in American manufacturing. After inheriting a vintage Pak-A-Robe by Faribo blanket from my Grandma Mary, I wanted to learn more about the company. Less than an hour away, I knew that Faribault would be a fun getaway to take advantage of their weekly tours on Thursdays.
My friend Lisa was up for the adventure and we arrived in Faribault around 10:30 a.m. which gave us plenty of time to explore the grounds around the mill which sit next to the Cannon River Reservoir. Before the tour we both purchased some goods from the retail store.
The tour impressed upon me the work that goes into making wool blankets, throws, and scarves. It takes 22 steps to get from bales of raw wool to a finished product. All in a relatively small (loud) space. We saw people tending to the spinning machine, inspecting the quality of the weave, and inventorying with laptops. Our tour guide pointed out both vintage and new machinery used during the process as well as the time it takes to set up for a new project (four working days!). This is all to say that the price of a Faribault Woolen Mill product seems more than fair after going on the tour.
Both Lisa and I would like our own private tour where we learn more about the people who work at the factory. We were there the day that Mary celebrated her 80th birthday and she's worked at Faribault Woolen Mills for 61 years. Can you imagine? We passed an office while someone was being interviewed and we were told that when hired those positions will bring the employee count to 100.
After our tour, we went to downtown Faribault for lunch at The Cheese Cave followed by a dessert drink at Bluebird Cakery (too full for one of their delicious looking cupcakes, cookies, or other pastries). It was raining while we were there which is a bummer because their downtown is so cute and I would have liked to have checked out their other businesses. Faribault is definitely worth a road trip or a detour off I-35 for a pit-stop.
The Nivens Family