Liebergs sell Currie's after 30 years

After 30 years at Currie's, Bob and Joan Lieberg are passing ownership of the business to Paula Sweere and Pam Hamann. "We've been fielding different avenues to sell the business for the last year, and we feel that Pam and Paula were just the exa...

Currie's owners
Photo by Rachelle Klemme The soon-to-be-retired Currie's owners stand next to the upcoming Currie's owners (l-r) Bob Lieberg, Joan Lieberg, Paula Sweere and Pam Hamann.

After 30 years at Currie's, Bob and Joan Lieberg are passing ownership of the business to Paula Sweere and Pam Hamann.

"We've been fielding different avenues to sell the business for the last year, and we feel that Pam and Paula were just the exact fit to carry on our tradition of customer service," Bob Lieberg said. "We want to thank everybody for all the years of patronage to Currie's."

The Liebergs plan to retire on Nov. 1 -- the 30th anniversary date of their ownership of Currie's -- and the inventory of Whirlpool appliances will depart with them.

"We're selling out all the appliances. I've got 34 units left to sell between now and Nov. 1," Lieberg said.

Lieberg added that tanning customers should use their sessions by that date.


Sweere, the owner of Everything Under the Sun, will move the inventory of her gift store to the Currie's building.

"We will continue with the video store, JCPenney's, the tanning and the crafts from the gift store," Hamann said.

Hamann has worked at H&R Block for 10 years and plans to continue her job there after starting at Currie's.

She said her sister's inventory at Everything Under the Sun includes clothing, purses, jewelry, wild game seasonings, sausage seasonings and home decor.

Currie's has a long history in Wadena.

Ross Currie opened Currie's TV in 1953, carrying 18 television sets.

After working seven years the TV and appliances businesses, Bob Lieberg said that he bought Currie's TV on Nov. 1, 1980, and added Whirlpool appliances to the store's inventory.

Previously, he had two years of college in accounting and worked in St. Cloud and Duluth.


"When we purchased the store, it was just televisions only, 18 TVs including black-and-whites and a shop van," Bob Lieberg said.

He said that he and Joan got married, took their honeymoon in the shop van and started business in the bad economy of the early 1980s.

"We added the appliances in 1980. In 1982, we rented our first movie," Lieberg said, adding that they were in the movie rental business before chains like Blockbuster.

"We had video discs like big LP records," he said. The RCA video discs drew customers to the store, but the company stopped making them three years later.

In 1984, they moved from the old Currie's location by the Cozy Theatre to the current location at 119 SE 1st St. The new location had previously been home to Larry's Super Market and National Tea grocery store.

In 1985, they added games to the video rental store, and in 1989, they bought the building from Mike Ebner.

1997 brought the JCPenney catalogue. "Joan had been home with the kids, and we had an opportunity to have a JCPenney catalogue franchise. The retail store had closed," he said.

In 2001, they started the tanning business. "That has been a tremendous asset to our store's success also," he said.


A few years later, they had to start phasing out of TVs.

"RCA went out of the TV business in 2007. They sold to a Chinese company and they eliminated their distributors and retailers. We actually outlasted RCA company," he said. "We were one of the oldest sales and services centers, but we no longer provide service. Unfortunately for the Wadena area, Wadena TV Center went out last spring, and there is no longer service available in the area."

This year marks not only the Liebergs' retirement, but the EF4 tornado which struck Wadena.

The couple's house took damage on June 17 tornado. At that time, the Liebergs said, Bob was at Currie's and Joan was in the basement of the house.

"We still have a roof over our heads," Joan Lieberg said.

"We have been blessed by our customers that have actually made our store successful over the years," Bob Lieberg said.

He said that some customers travel about 30 miles to rent movies and games.

"Our current inventory is somewhere around 10,000 units," he said. Beyond DVDs, they have kept a wide library of VHS tapes.


He said that classic films are important to the store as well as new releases.

"The big market stores don't have the depth of inventory in classics like we have," he said.

Lieberg said his wife was the "brains" of the operation.

"[Joan] and I make a good team. We've been a Ma and Pa store all these years," he said, adding they had employed up to 11 people in the area.

Under Hamann and Sweere's ownership, Currie's will retain the same contact info: by e-mail, 631-1185 for the movie rental, tanning and gift shop, and 631-2411 for JCPenney.

Hours will for JCPenney will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

Hours for the rest of the store will be 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.

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