In business for more than seventy years, Hoglund’s Work and Western Wear is a Great Falls institution—a staple for area ranchers and farmers and a must-stop for visitors eager to take home a memento of Big Sky Country. With three floors and 14,000 square feet of cowboy hats, boots, Western clothing, buckles, belts, and accessories, Hoglund’s is the largest Western wear store in Montana. Even in an era of online shopping, Hoglund’s isn’t just surviving; it’s thriving!
“Once you’ve visited Hoglund’s, you’ll see why,” says owner Mike Marzetta.
Hoglund’s got its modest start in 1951, when Stewart and Hazel Hoglund began selling tents and surplus items out of a Quonset on the corner of Central Avenue and Sixth Street in Great Falls. Trader Monty’s, it was called. The following year, the couple moved the business to its current location and renamed it “Great Falls Army Store.”
Then, one day in 1964, the Hoglunds announced to their staff, “We’re going Western.” Great Falls already had more than a half dozen Western-wear stores, but the Hoglunds were confident there was room for one more. For one thing, they had something that no other had: Vern Rothschiller.
Vern had worked in Western wear since the age of eleven. When he got a job at Hoglund’s years later, he learned the business as well as the owners themselves. Naturally, the Hoglunds promoted Vern to manager, and eventually sold him the business, lock, stock, and barrel.
For many years running, Hoglund’s earned the Tony Lama Trophy (awarded for the most boot sales) and was featured in write-ups for Tack ‘n’ Togs trade magazine. Vern was bestowed the Western Retailer of the Year Award in 1972.
In 1977, a skinny fifteen-year-old in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops stopped into Hoglund’s to apply for an opening. Vern took one look at Mike Marzetta and said, “I think I’m going to pass.” But Mike persisted. “Let me work for two weeks and then decide,” he pleaded. Vern took him up on his offer, and Mike immediately made himself useful. In fact, the world of Western wear suited Mike so well that he never left. Vern sold him the store in 2002, and Mike has been running Hoglund’s ever since.
Over the decades, a constant key to Hoglund’s success has been its good service.
“A cardinal rule for staff is no high- pressure sales tactics. Be there if the customers need you to be, but let them wander through the aisles,” Mike explains. “And be honest. If someone is trying on something and it looks like hell, tell ‘em. If you don’t, their friends are going to.”
The friendly atmosphere is something Hoglund’s customers have come to expect. Mike has a knack for remembering not just the names of his patrons, but their children and grandchildren as well.
“Hoglund’s Western Wear isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I’ll never retire, ‘cause I love it and our customers,” says Mike.
Hoglund’s Western Wear is located at 306 1st Avenue South in Great Falls.
To learn more, call (406) 452-6911.