Bergquist Imports regroups after fire damages warehouse, inventory

Owner Scott Camps said he's working with his insurance to plan the next steps of reopening the Cloquet gift shop, the contents of which suffered heavy smoke damage.

Smoke from a fire rising above buildings
Firefighters respond to a fire call next to Bergquist Imports and Erbert and Gerbert's Sandwich Shop in Cloquet on Feb. 22.
Contributed / Samantha Erkkila

CLOQUET — Scott Camps, owner of Bergquist Imports, said the last week has been chaotic and overwhelming. He's assessing his business's next steps after the building and merchandise was damaged in a fire last week.

The Feb. 22 fire caused the back warehouse's roof to partially cave in, and caused smoke damage to the storefronts of both Bergquist Imports and Erbert & Gerbert's sandwich shop.

"It looks like the gift shop suffered only smoke damage, but I say 'only smoke damage' — I mean it's damaged all of the merchandise," Camps said. "So all of that will have to be replaced. You drive by and it looks like everything is fine, they should be able to open, but there's a lot of cleaning that has to be done and probably turn over all of that merchandise."

Camps said the warehouse was mainly used for the business' wholesale component, which resold inventory across the country to gift shops and museums.

"All of that inventory appears to be lost," Camps said.


He doesn't yet know an estimate of the cost of damages. The cause of the fire is also still under investigation by the Cloquet Area Fire Department and the Minnesota State Fire Marshal.

It looks like the gift shop suffered only smoke damage, but I say 'only smoke damage' — I mean it's damaged all of the merchandise.
Scott Camps, owner of Bergquist Imports

Barry and Vivian Bergquist, who sold the 75-year-old business to Camps in April 2021, still own the building and its property. The building is about 31,000 square feet, according to a real estate listing, and the warehouse is about 10,000 square feet. Carlton County land records estimate the building to be valued at about $425,000.

The retired couple now live out of state and could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

People dressed in Scandinavian garb stand under a giant Dala horse on the Bergquist Imports float at the Labor Day Parade in Cloquet during the 100th annual Carlton County Labor Day Celebration in 2019.
Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram

Al Kurtz, owner of the Northland Erbert & Gerbert's franchises in Cloquet, Duluth and Superior, wrote on the restaurant's Facebook page that he anticipates reopening March 20.

"We had smoke film everywhere and will need 3 weeks to wipe equipment and reorder all of our food along with dry goods," Kurtz said in the Facebook post. "We are taking no chances with food safety. From 20 oz pop bottles to fully wrapped Turkey in a box. . .everything must be disposed of."

Both Kurtz and Camps thanked the Cloquet Area Fire Department for saving their storefront despite the cold, windy conditions during the fire, and for the community's support.

"We certainly want to reopen the gift shop," Camps said of Bergquist Imports, noting the Bergquists have stayed in close contact and offered help get things up and running. "Hopefully, it'll happen sooner than later."

Laura Butterbrodt covers health for the Duluth News Tribune. She has a bachelor of arts in journalism from South Dakota State University and has been working as a reporter in Minnesota and South Dakota since 2014.
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