Since it’s almost the end of the year, we figured we’d end 2021 by finally tackling a story idea we’ve been wanting to do for months. While the names of these stores are similar and their inventory, their clientele, and even their origin stories have some overlap as well, Blain’s Farm & Fleet and Mills Fleet Farm are different entities. (No, this isn’t a Kwik Trip/Kwik Star situation.)

Somehow, both have enjoyed separate existences, experienced a great deal of growth, and have successfully stayed out of the other business’ way since each endeavor’s start back in 1955. Today, Mills Fleet Farm—which is now headquartered in Appleton, with a distribution center in Chippewa Falls—has a total of 47 stores spread through Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Meanwhile, Blain’s Farm & Fleet—whose headquarters and distribution center are both in Janesville—has 43 locations in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan.

Though the chain stores have similar names, a similarly-sized presence in the Upper Midwest, and the aforementioned likenesses in terms of what they stock on their shelves, Mills Fleet Farm and Blain’s Farm & Fleet are, in fact, different…no matter how subtle those differences might be. So that means one of them has to be better than the other, right?

Recently, while doing some holiday shopping in the greater Milwaukee area and back in our native Fox Cities while seeing family, we visited a Blain’s Farm & Fleet in Oak Creek and a Mills Fleet Farm in Oshkosh. To be clear, neither location is the crown jewel of their specific empire, but both are down-the-middle representations of what each chain offers customers. Using some highly scientific methods, we’ve determined a winner between Fleet Farm and Farm & Fleet. We’ve broken down our findings into the following categories:



Nuts

Fleet Farm

Farm & Fleet

Advantage: Farm & Fleet
To be clear, both have astounding nut, dried fruit, and snack mix selections. However, we found Farm & Fleet’s offerings to be slightly more abundant and, in many cases, a little less expensive.

Candy

Fleet Farm

Farm & Fleet

Advantage: Tie
Sorry, but this one is too close to call. Fleet Farm seems to have more candy by a small margin, but a lot of that is what can only be called “grandpa candy.” Farm & Fleet has a higher hit rate with its elevated arsenal of sweets, but some of it is a tad pricier as a result. This one kind of comes down to personal candy preference.

Jerky/Beef Sticks

Fleet Farm

Farm & Fleet

Advantage: Farm & Fleet
Farm & Fleet offered more brands, more flavors, and some smaller Midwest-based brands. Compared to that, the Oshkosh Fleet Farm’s jerky/beef stick selection seemed downright paltry. Both would still put almost any gas station’s jerky inventory to shame.

Celebrity Spokespeople

Fleet Farm

Advantage: Fleet Farm
Fleet Farm is THE place to get official Charlie Berens and Manitowoc Minute apparel. Meanwhile, even though that commercial with Matt Kenseth isn’t too shabby, Farm & Fleet doesn’t have any Midwestern celebrity-endorsed clothing on hand. Get at us if you want to stock some Milwaukee Record T-shirts, Blain’s. Okay, let’s Keep ‘Er Movin’ to the next category.

Greeting Cards

Fleet Farm

Farm & Fleet

Advantage: Fleet Farm
Damn, who knew these stores would both have such a solid selection of greeting cards? That being said, Fleet Farm’s greeting card selection is next-level.

Carhartt

Fleet Farm

Farm & Fleet

Advantage: Tie
We really tried to determine a clear winner here, but both have enough Carhartt available to keep Post Malone and the Safdie Brothers clothed for eons.

Horse Dewormers

Fleet Farm

Farm & Fleet

Advantage: Anyone not using this to treat COVID-19
Please stop doing this.

Wisconsin Sports Apparel

Fleet Farm

Farm & Fleet

Advantage: Fleet Farm
Fleet Farm offered a far wider range of Packers, Bucks, Badgers, and Brewers clothing than its cross-state contemporary. Hell, Fleet Farm even has some Vikings stuff available. Though we considered docking points for that, we still have to give Fleet Farm the edge on this one.

Deer Attractant

Fleet Farm

Farm & Fleet

Advantage: Farm & Fleet
This one is like the Pepsi vs. Coke of deer attractants, isn’t it? It’s personal preference. Well, we’re a Boss Sauce household, so Farm & Fleet takes it.

Holiday Decor

Fleet Farm

Advantage: Fleet Farm
I didn’t see a Christmas tree made out of shell casings at Farm & Fleet, so we gotta go with Fleet Farm here.

Dumb Shit

Fleet Farm

Farm & Fleet

Advantage: Farm & Fleet
As far as stupid shit that nobody in their right mind should ever buy, we’d take foam gargoyles over My Pillow any day.

Jingle

Advantage: Fleet Farm
Even though Farm & Fleet apparently enlisted Eddie Rabbit (of “Drivin’ My Life Away” and “I Love A Rainy Night” fame) to write and record its patriotic and downright catchy jingle, Fleet Farm takes this one because they adapted a Happy Schnapps Combo song about Fleet Farm, removed some dated lyrics, and re-recorded it. Like the song says, “we love it.”

Crocs

Fleet Farm

Farm & Fleet

Advantage: Farm & Fleet
It’s close, but Farm & Fleet edges Fleet Farm out in the all-too-important Crocs category. They simply have a larger selection with more sizes, more styles, and better prices. Sure, not all of them are official Crocs brand, but who really gives a shit about that?

Overall Winner

It’s…a tie. Yeah, yeah, get mad about this harmless article if you want, but both of these Wisconsin-based retailers carry a wide array of items. And since they’ve made a point of never being in the same cities, you’ll never be faced with the difficult choice of which store to visit. Whichever one is closest to you is the best one, if you ask us. Plus, they both sell Salted Nut Rolls, which is still one of the best candy bars in the game.

Happy New Year.

About The Author

Co-Founder and Editor

Before co-founding Milwaukee Record, Tyler Maas wrote for virtually every Milwaukee publication (except Wassup! Magazine). He lives in Bay View and enjoys both stuff and things.

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