After 20 years and millions of visitors through its doors, the John Deere Store in downtown Moline is new again.

The store "reopened" Friday with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting with Deere & Co. employees and community representatives. But in fact, the store has continued to operate during several months of remodeling, store manager Amy Blair said. "We stayed open the whole time. We did construction in phases."

The public is invited to see the changes during a reopening celebration from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.

Blair said the store has been remodeled from top to bottom with new flooring, lighting, fixtures and oversized photographs of John Deere equipment at work. Construction workers also opened up the space by removing interior walls and a dropped ceiling to create an exposed ceiling. 

"The store is not just about selling things, it's about our brand friends coming to connect with the brand," she said.

The store, which opened on Aug. 16, 1997,  is part of the John Deere Pavilion. 

Blair said the changes also will include new inventory lines as well as future activities such as monthly crafting events and book signings by authors of books related to John Deere. 

Mara Sovey Downing, director of Deere & Co.'s brand licensing and the John Deere Foundation president, said the changes not only bring an updated, refreshed look but create "a continuation of the John Deere experience."

She said the store wants to engage current John Deere fans "but also the next generation of brand fans."

An estimated 300,000 people visit the John Deere Pavilion each year, including employees, retirees, customers and visitors with the John Deere Classic golf tournament.

"We're so fortunate to have such an honorable company as John Deere representing (Moline) throughout the world," said Moline Mayor Stephanie Acri, who joined in the ribbon-cutting hosted by the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce.

Acri, the daughter of Deere employees,  said Deere's presence in Moline helped open the doors for many other businesses to follow. "I run a machine shop, that's how I make my money ..." she told the audience of more than 40.

 The renovations were completed by Ryan Construction, Davenport.

"Being here you realize what John Deere means to people," said Blair, who has managed the store for a year.

She and her 12-person staff often hear stories from customers of how they are incorporating John Deere "into the biggest moments in their lives ... from weddings to proposals and even funerals."

"We want to continue to make that connection with them."

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