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From family to family: New York Mills Dean’s Country Market has new local owners

Dean's Country Market sold yesterday to Wadena resident Tim Muehler. Muehler plans to keep the business local and family owned, with just a few minor changes on the horizon, like a switch in the name from Dean's to Mill's. File Photo

After 45 years providing fresh meats and produce to the greater New York Mills area, Dean Simpson, owner of Dean's Country Market, has decided it's time to hand over the reigns to the original Dean's location in New York Mills.

In April, Simpson sold the Dean's Country Market Perham location to the Detroit Lakes Central Market owners, getting the brain gears turning for Wadena resident, Tim Muehler.

Muehler had been selling wholesale to Dean's and worked at the grocery store for a time on the weekends to get that "retail fix" and, over the years, he built a friendship with Simpson, so when time came to look at selling the New York Mills location, Muehler jumped.

"When I reached out to him (about buying the store), he said let's meet at the store and talk," recalls Muehler.

From there, Simpson decided he would sell the store to Muehler with the caveat that the store remain open.

"Dean was very concerned with the store staying open," recalled Muehler adding that he didn't mind, since he planned to continue with the business.

After many years working all different ends of the grocery store industry, from retail to management to sales and back again, you could say Muehler has a passion for the grocery business, emphasizing customer interaction and satisfaction in every aspect of the business.

He says he doesn't intend to be a force of sweeping change—there's just a few, minor changes coming to the Dean's New York Mills location, including a name change to Mill's Country Market.

The rest, though, including the family-owned aspect will stay the same—and they intend to keep it that way.

"It's not a short-term plan," said Muehler, adding that they've already got their sights set on who may run the grocer's next generation, potentially teaching the business and turning it over to an employee when Muehler and his wife are ready to retire.