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Lange's back managing local station/store

The building was smaller and the name was Auto Stop, but the ownership and the location were the same when Gretchen Lange worked at an Ellsworth convenience store and station around 20 years ago.

Now, Lange has returned to manage what's since been changed to Holiday, on the northeast corner of Main and Maple streets (Hwys. 10-63 and 65). She succeeded Lisa Moen at the business earlier this year.

"I started with SSG," she said Wednesday, referring to the corporation behind the outlet.

The Hastings, Minn., native said she followed her father's lead when choosing a career. Her dad, the late Tom Lange Sr., had been in management in Hudson.

"I hadn't really thought about managing a convenience store," she said.

That's the industry in which Lange has been employed. After her first local stint, she went to the Auto Stop in Woodbury, Minn., while the former Auto Stop in Hudson was being built, she said. For the next 12 years, she was assistant manager at the Hudson site, more recently operated by Kwik Trip. She was at MR Convenience, one exit on I-94 away, for a couple of years, too.

Meantime, she got a degree in business management from Metro State University in 1990, she said. She took classes in supervision, business math and others during the four-year program.

As manager at Holiday, Lange said she schedules work shifts, tracks inventory, deals with vendors and organizes promotions. Best-selling items fluctuate and gasoline sales no longer top the list, with prices being what they are.

"It's a whole lot more than a gas station," she said, likening the store to an all-in-one-stop shopping experience.

There are approximately 14 employees on staff, she said. Hours are 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays. That's in contrast to the 24-hour operations she's accustomed to along the interstate.

"They get a lot more travelers through up, it's more of a home town, neighborhood-type place," she said, mentioning she originally became interested in Ellsworth from friends living in the community.

The daughter of Joann Lange is single and has an older brother, Tom Jr., she said. In her spare time, she enjoys travel, having taken three cruises, and sports, especially football.