History of the Gamble-Skogmo Chair

The first Gamble-Skogmo store

The first Gamble-Skogmo store, located in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

About Gamble and Skogmo

Born at the end of the 19th century, Bertin Gamble and Philip Skogmo were boyhood friends in Arthur, North Dakota (40 miles northwest of Fargo). As young men, they each came separately to Minnesota and worked in a variety of jobs. In 1920, they pooled their resources, borrowed some money and bought an auto dealership in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. Soon they discovered the sale of auto parts and accessories was the most profitable part of their car dealership. So, in March 1925, they opened the first Gamble Auto Supply store in St. Cloud. By 1928, they had 55 stores and moved their headquarters to Minneapolis. Eventually, Gamble stores were franchised, and by 1939 there were 1500 Gamble dealers and 300 corporate stores in 24 states.

From the mid 1940s to the end of the 1970s, Gamble and Skogmo diversified their businesses into many new endeavors, including a discount division, financial services, real estate, and retail businesses such as Aldens mail order company, Womans World Shops, Red Owl Grocery and Snyder Drug stores. At the end of this period of growth, Gamble-Skogmo was the 15th largest retailer in the United States with 4200 outlets and 26,000 employees in 39 states. Following the retirement of Bert Gamble, the company was sold to the Wickes Co. of California. The purchase was highly leveraged, the combined companies struggled, Wickes filed bankruptcy in 1982, and the empire was sold off in pieces.

About the Gamble-Skogmo Fund

In 1948, Messrs. Gamble and Skogmo each established family foundations supporting youth, education, health and religious organizations. In 1982, the trustees of the separate foundations voted to merge the two and formed a supporting organization of the Minneapolis Foundation called The B.C. Gamble and P. W. Skogmo Foundation with combined assets of $13,000,000. For 10 years the foundation continued its philanthropy following the spirit of its founders in five focus areas: (1) disadvantaged youth and families; (2) people with disabilities; (3) low-income senior citizens; (4) secondary and higher education; and (5) health care, research and education. In 1992, the separate foundation became a field of interest fund of the Minneapolis Foundation.

About the Gamble-Skogmo Land Grant Chair

In 1989, the Gamble-Skogmo Land Grant Chair in Child Welfare and Youth Policy was established with a grant of $500,000, the largest single grant made by The B.C. Gamble and P. W. Skogmo Foundation to that date. The University of Minnesota had proposed the chair matching the foundation’s donation with $500,000 to create an endowment of $1,000,000. Today the endowment is valued at about $2,000,000.

The Chair collaborates with the community and the university at large to foster initiatives that will contribute to the shaping of state and federal policies for at-risk children and youth. The goals of the Chair are achieved by conducting research, contributing to curriculum development, developing special projects, and supporting community outreach activities.

The Chair works closely with the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare at the University of Minnesota’s School of Social Work and promotes collaboration with faculty in and outside the School of Social Work and the College of Education and Human Development. To serve the metro area and the state in areas addressing practice and policy concerns in child welfare and youth policy, the Chair reaches out to organizations serving children and families, particularly communities of color, and supports child welfare service providers in delivering the best possible services to these populations.