With ambition and a love of the outdoors, newlyweds Roger and Linda Mildenstein established their family business (named through a customer contest) in 1967. With four employees and a small store at 943 South Riverside Drive, they saw the business as a good opportunity for their family and they decided to give it a shot. Linda learned bookkeeping while Roger used his background in customer service from his time working at John’s Grocery to fuel their success. Early on, Roger realized that his primary goal was simply to take good care of his customers. That sentiment is what has carried Fin & Feather to where it is today.
Fin & Feather relocated to a larger space in 1998, allowing for a wider selection of products as well as an archery range in the hunting department and better parking options. While the store started with a few fishing and hunting supplies, the growth of the outdoor industry allowed for many more specialized products. Camping gear and fishing poles are now lighter and clothing is more technical, specialized and stylish. We travel several times a year to trade shows to learn about the latest, greatest developments in each department in order to bring you the products we’re excited about.
Son Brian Mildenstein has been working in the store since his youth and became a full-time staff member in 1996 while working in the freight room. He shares his parents’ passion of introducing customers to outdoor activities and loves swapping stories of outdoor adventures. Growing up at Fin & Feather instilled in him an appreciation of a wide range of outdoor endeavors, so you might catch him doing anything from fishing to bow-hunting, backpacking, running, nordic skiing, or just lounging in his Eagle's Nest hammock.
When Roger and Linda aren’t in the store, they might be found on their bikes, tending to their chickens or beehives or weeding their vegetable garden. Roger is passionate about bow hunting, bass fishing and the Hawkeyes. He also says he’d happily cross-country ski to work if there was enough snow. Linda frequents local yoga studios and loves backpacking and kayaking. Together, they’re intent on reducing their carbon footprint by living healthy, balanced lives.
In 2013, Brian set sail with Fin’s sister business, Fin & Feather H2O, which rents a variety of watercraft at the newly developed Terry Trueblood Recreation Area in Iowa City. Along with a spread of tasty snacks and ice cream, H2O also rents ice skates. Brian is proud to offer customers another local outlet to interact with the outdoors.
Above all, the Mildensteins are grateful to have found success in the city they love. As outdoor enthusiasts, Roger & Linda are proud to support local environmental preservation efforts, programs that introduce youth to the outdoors, and their community in general. As Roger says, “it’s not often you can get into something that reflects who you are.” It continues to be our goal at Fin & Feather to be small enough to know you, yet big enough to serve you.
A few other tidbits…