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Corporate veteran lives her dream in small store

Finances have long been Kathymae Fletcher's specialty.

Fletcher spent an entire career in the corporate world, she said Wednesday. She began as an operational manager at Forklifts of Minnesota and later became an executive in administration at such companies as Xerox and Kodak.

Her ability to do financial gymnastics helped bring her to Speedway in Ellsworth this past spring, she said. The fact the Woodbury, Minn., native is able to juggle money matters seems appropriate, as being a gymnast was her favorite activity when she was in high school.

"I always wanted to live in a small town and run a small store," she said about her new career.

Fletcher said when she was a customer at the SuperAmerica store in Oakdale, Minn., she saw a notice the Ohio-based company that owns Speedway as well as SA was hiring manager trainees. So she applied and was accepted, crediting her background for getting her hired. She was assigned to the White Bear Lake, Minn., store.

"I worked side-by-side with the manager there," she said.

Locally, besides handling the financial side of the convenience outlet, the manager orders inventory, deals with vendors (supplying everything from bread to beer and nuts to milk), and hires and trains the employees here, presently numbering six, she said. She arranges staff to meet a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week schedule.

Milk is the store's biggest selling item, priced significantly less than the competition, as are cigarettes, she said.

"I do gasoline surveys daily and cigarette surveys weekly," she said.

Fletcher's pleased with the warm reception she's received in the community. She said everyone is friendly and calls her by her first name.

"The small town is wonderful," she said. "A farmer pulls up in a big old tractor to get's great!"

Four months ago, she moved to this area with her 14-year-old son, Cameron, she said. They have three cats and a ferret at home. He's an amateur magician who wants to get into acting and directing, having already appeared in a production at Ellsworth's Ames Old School Dinner Theatre.

And Fletcher's apparently worked some magic of her own, as she said with confidence last week that, because the store's been turned around financially, there's no truth to a rumor it's going to be sold.