Sky Group Bargains is a retail liquidator – Park Bugle
By Cigale Ahlquist
Inside a nondescript 70,000 square foot warehouse just west of Highway 280 in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood is the Sky Group Inc. network of businesses that specialize in purchase and sale of liquidation and liquidation goods, including the daily necessities of life.
Like many businesses, Sky Group Bargains suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was bad, but we got away with it,” said co-founder Tim Keehn. “They weren’t like friends in the restaurant business and entertainment. They couldn’t do anything.
“People weren’t buying wholesale, but the retail was good – the necessities. People were like, ‘I haven’t worked for two months, but I still need to brush my teeth and go to the bathroom.’ “
The parent company, primarily a wholesale business buying from Costco, Best Buy, and other retailers, distributors, and manufacturers, was started 25 years ago by Minneapolis-based Matt McConville and Keehn who grew up in Rochester.
In its early days, the company operated in the basement of the McConville home in southern Minneapolis and after several moves, it moved into the warehouse at 2565 Kasota Ave. five years ago. Its retail store, Sky Group Bargains, opened about a year and a half ago and employs an average of 15 workers.
Interestingly, the Kasota Avenue warehouse is owned by the Golden Valley-based Animal Humane Society, and Sky Group Bargains donates a portion of its sales to the organization, Keehn said.
Keehn is looking for another “universal” community organization, such as a school, in the St. Anthony Park area to help him. If you are interested, contact him at 612-802-9559.
Before venturing out on their own 25 years ago, the two worked together – Keehn as a buyer and McConville as a sale – at Irwin Jacobs’ Jacobs Trading.
“Usually we sell general merchandise: things you find at Target, Best Buy – big box stores – and Walgreens or CVS,” said Keehn, 51, a business administration and communications graduate from the company. St. Cloud State University. “The best-selling products are basic necessities: food and miscellaneous items such as cleaning products, which everyone uses every day.
“We’re the only ones in town who are cheaper than Costco, Target or Walmart,” Keehn said.
Merchandise is typically new or returned by customers, Keehn said.
“We have a processing area at the back of the warehouse where we test the goods, so what is in the store” should “work,” he said. “What doesn’t work we wholesale to people who can fix it or we recycle it.
“We don’t throw away anything, including tarps,” Keehn said, referring to Sky Group’s BillboardTarps.com, which buys and reuses new and used material (often vinyl) used on highway billboards. “If we can’t sell it, we give it away.
Cigale Ahlquist is a freelance writer for Twin Cities and a regular contributor to Le Bugle.