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1363 posts categorized "Retail news"

June 04, 2015

Furniture Superstore to add used cars to Rochester's 'Car Row'

A little more than a year after turning a former Menards store into the Furniture Superstore, Jim Sather is ready to add used cars to his northwest Rochester facility.

In 2014, Sather and Mark Byer moved their Furniture Superstore and America's Mattress stores into the ex-Menards facility at 5150 U.S. Highway 52 North. Now, Sather has plans to convert the southwest corner of the store's massive parking area into the Auto Superstore, a used car dealership.

Logo"I've been thinking about it for a couple years. This is where all the car dealers are," he said referring to the "Car Row" line of dealerships along the frontage road.

Sather said he hopes to be licensed and ready to open by the end of June. Once licensed, Auto Superstore will start acquiring vehicles with the goal of having about 10 on the lot when it opens.

The dealership will be staffed by two and will use a separate entrance to the store as a base of operations.

As far as the Furniture Superstore goes, Sather says it has done "exceptionally well" since it moved last summer from its original home at 3185 41st St. NW. The opportunity to move to the current location opened up in April 2014, when Menards moved to a newly completed $12 million store near the intersection of U.S. 52 and 65th Street Northwest.

The independent Furniture Superstore opened in 2003. Sather and Byer added America's Mattress in 2005.

May 22, 2015

Updated version of Hillary Nutcracker comes out for new campaign

An updated version of the famous (or infamous) Rochester invention, the Hillary Clinton Nutcracker, is hitting the streets this week as the presidential campaign heats up.

1-hillary-nutcracker-in-the-boxThe 9-inch-high nutcracker with "stainless steel thighs" originally was created and patented by Frank Freeman in the basement of his Rochester home in 2008.  He sold the functional device in his Little Bear Trading Post store in the Apache Mall as well as nationally.

While Freeman's company, Damn Handy Products, now is based in Arizona, he still distributes his products from Minnesota. He also is considering opening another store in the Apache Mall, if he can work out a "new concept."

"It'll be phenomenal," said Freeman of how he anticipates the nutcracker will sell with Clinton walking away with the Democrat nomination. "Last time, we sold well over a quarter of million units and she wasn't nearly as popular."

In 2008, it sold for $19.95. Now the tag is $29.95.

This version of the nutcracker features Clinton wearing a pink blazer with a campaign button that reads "Hillary 2016 -- It's Crunch Time." It's already on sale at hillarynutcracker.com. The first shipments from China arrived in Minnesota this week to the company's fulfillment center. Freeman says they already have shipped out about 70 dozen orders to five stores and it will be featured on the cover of at least two national specialty catalogs.

Of course, many people find the product distasteful and insulting. When Urban Outfitters started selling the last of the 2008 nutcrackers for $60, it spurred many media sourc8-hillary-nutcracker-introes like the New York Post and Huffington Post to decry the site for selling a "sexist" product. Vox.com posted a story that said the $60 price tag “seems like $54.05 too much for something you might find in a very, very sexist Happy Meal.”

Freeman and his partner, Gibson Carothers, say the nutcracker is not meant to be mean-spirited.

"It's up to you decide whether that is good or bad. The headline on the box is simply"It's Crunch Time, America!" We think it's all in good fun," said Carothers. "Of course, we expect cries of sexism from some feminists. But we expect, and are already starting to feel, a more balanced reaction this time around."

The pair say that women's opinions about the original nutcracker changed over time. In the end, they estimate that one-third of buyers were Hillary Clinton backers. They hope that sentiment will continue to grow this time around.

"They started to see that a nutcracker could be seen as a tough, fearless leader. Realistically,
is the country going to elect a woman not perceived as tough?" said Carothers.

"I think a lot of people feel that it is pro-Hillary. The humor on the box is slightly more pro-Hillary this time," said Freeman.

Political feelings aside, they say the bottom line is the nutcracker is supposed to be funny. It's in the same spirit as their Smash Mute TV remote product, which features a giant button that can be pounded to mute "politicians, talking heads and erectile dysfunction commercials." 

Boutique owner to open second Rochester shop

A new boutique is bringing its quirky style to downtown Rochester this summer.

Camy Couture is slated to open on June 4 at 112 First Ave. SW, says owner Kim Shea. That's the high-profile spot next to O&B Shoes that previously housed Trademark Uniforms Inc. and About Face prior to that.

Darci Fenske of Paramark Real Estate brokered the deal.

CamycouturedowntownShea opened her first Camy Couture in Rochester's Shoppes of Maine area in 2013. She describes the store as having funky and unique women's fashions for "trendy moms and everybody else" at a reasonable price. It also carries accessories like handbags, scarves and sunglasses.

"We specialize in buying small sets. Once they are gone, they are gone. You don't see everyone around town wearing what you just bought," she said.

Now Shea is launching a second shop in the heart of Rochester's downtown.

"The opportunity came out of absolutely nowhere. It was too hard to pass up this location," she said. "The exposure of being downtown will help both stores."

She assures that new store will have the same "feel" of her at 4270 Maine Ave. S.E. Shea plans to have two on staff downtown. The Shoppes on Maine store is staffed by three, including her.

May 21, 2015

Kwik Trip to build replacement store in South Broadway

Rochester commuters will see double for a while this fall as a new Kwik Trip store is built to replace the existing one on Broadway Avenue South.

Hans Zeitlow, Kwik Trip's chief of real estate, explained that a new convenience store will be built on the north side of its lot at Broadway and 20th Street Southwest. That will put the new store right next to the car wash, which Kwik Trip built in 2012 on the site of the former Starlite Motel.

This project has been on the La Crosse, Wis.-based chain's drawing board for a while. Even the Answer Man noted he had heard aboSouthbroadwaykwiktriput it recently.

"This has always been our intention. We had the plans for the new store when we built the car wash," Zeitlow said. "This is just a matter of upgrading an old facility."

If everything goes according to plan, the current store will remain open during the construction of the new one. Zeitlow expects to be able to offer continuous service at the stores through the transition, though the fuel pumps may be down for a time.

The first phase of this elaborate upgrade dates back to August 2012, when Kwik Trip purchased the adjacent Starlite Motel from local hotelier Ash Patel for $500,000. The 58-year-old, retro-style, 17-room motel was demolished that September.

Howard and Edna Welch built it in 1954. A sister Starlite Motel remains open for business in Wisconsin Dells.

The Rochester Starlite's best known brush with fame is a connection to movie and television actress Lea Thompson. The official biography of the star of "Some Kind of Wonderful, "Howard the Duck" and the "Back to the Future" movies says she lived there in poverty for a while in the early 1960s with her parents and five brothers and sisters.

May 19, 2015

Military surplus shop sets sights on south Rochester

A military surplus store is planning to invade south Rochester this summer.

CC Military Surplus is leasing more than 3,000-square-foot space at 1513 12th St. S.E. in the Eastwood Plaza. Darci Fenske of Paramark Real Estate brokered the deal between CC Military Outfitters and the owners of Eastwood Plaza.

CcmilitarytruckCC Military President Rick Michel said he hopes to be able open the store in early July with a staff of five to six employees. It will be next to Apollo Liquor.

The store carries new and surplus military and outdoors gear like tents, outerwear, hats, patches, and manuals as well as paint ball and airsoft guns. It does not carry real firearms.

CC Military also offers a line of children's clothes and toys.

This will be the fifth store – the third in Minnesota – for the Central City, Iowa company. The Rochester store will fit right in the middle of CC Military's geographic footprint.
Eastwoodplaza2
"We love the opportunity to open a store in Rochester. I love Rochester," said Michel.

The surplus stores spun off of CC Manufacturing in Central City in 2002. CC Manufacturing makes tent stakes, pack frames, heavy-duty vehicle jack stands and conveyor bed systems for C-130 military transport planes for the U.S. military.

Michel describes his shop as "not your standard surplus store" with dim lights and tables full of piles of random gear.

"The outdoor enthusiast is our main customer. And we carry clothing and patches for the National Guard and local military," he said.

May 14, 2015

Arrow Ace Hardware to close Byron store

Arrow Ace Hardware, an anchor of Byron Towne Square shopping center, will close this summer.

The store at 1067 Fourth St. NE in Byron is starting its "Going Out of Business" sale today, said owner Dave Neiman. Arrow Ace was one of the first businesses to open in Byron Towne Square, right after construction was completed in 2004.

Arrow Ace owns four Rochester stores, as well as ones in Owatonna, Northfield, Mankato, Shakopee, Chaska and St. Peter.
Arrowacebyron
Neiman said the Byron store's lease was coming up, so they took the opportunity to evaluate the company's strategy in southeastern Minnesota.

"We decided that we want to concentrate our efforts in Rochester. We're having great success in the Rochester market, so we want to continue to capitalize on the growth we are seeing there," he said.

The Byron store will remain open through the Going of Business sale, which may last a few weeks.

Arrow Ace has eight employees in Byron and the company is offering those employees jobs at the four Rochester stores, Neiman said. Arrow, which employs about 40 people in Rochester, has stores in Miracle Mile Shopping Center, Crossroads Shopping Center and Silver Lake Shopping Center and a stand-alone store on 37th Street Northwest.

Oak Brook, Ill.,-based Ace, which supplies the locally-owned stores as cooperatives, now has more than 4,600 locations. It does more $13 billion in sales.

April 20, 2015

Tech duo boots up new Rochester computer shop with 3D twist

A pair of tech expects have opened the doors of a new computer retail and repair plus 3-D printing shop in northwest Rochester

Darwin Kock and co-owner/manager Phil Rodriquez booted up PCz Unlimited on April 9 at 4208 U.S. 52 North in the Rochester Shopping Center. The 1,000-square-foot store is tucked in between Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping and Harbor Freight Tools.

Darci Fenske of Paramark Real Estate brokered the deal between the landlord and tenant.

PCz Unlimited sells new computers and accessories as well as offering an extensive array of repair services as well as building custom-made machines. The business is geared toward small business customers and individual users.

"We can fix just about everything," said Rodriquez. "I'm Apple certified, so I repair Apple machines and PCs. We can do system upgrades, data recovery, virus removal and remote support. We can fix iPhones, iPads or whatever."

The shop's offerings go beyond just the traditional computer products.

"We offering some tech that's hard find to in Rochester right now, 3-D printers" said Kock. "What we're trying to do bring the technology to the Midwest that it currently lacks. Nobody's carrying this on their shelves now."

In addition to Rodriquez, the pair expect to add at least part-time employee soon.

March 30, 2015

Rochester's Kismet to open the door to 'Mad Men' style

Behind door #1 is a blast from the past plus a new name on Rochester's North Broadway block of consignment shopping.

KismetdoorPenny Bracken, known for her three Kismet stores on the 600 block of North Broadway, closed off the back third of the Kismet Home store with a sliding, barn-style door this winter. The mysterious door has spurred her loyal customers to speculate for months about what's behind it.

And now as spring slowly starts in Minnesota, Bracken is ready to unveil her winter project. The doors will officially open on Wednesday, though she isn't waiting until April 1 to discuss it.

"It's called Kismet Etc.," she said. "That's where we've been collecting hip, modern furniture and decor with that clean 'Mad Men,' Boho chic style."

Bracken says she and her staff have been watching the interest in this style grow over the past couple of years and they decided to create an area to spotlight it for shoppers.

"The trend right now is that people, especially young people, are really attracted to the clean lines of this mid-century style," said Bracken.

She also has changes planned for the exterior of the 611 North Broadway store. The name, Kismet Etc., will go up on the sign outside. That will make the lineup of stores on "Penny Lane" as Kismet Consignment Fashions at 601 N. Broadway, Kismet Central at 607 N. Broadway and Kismet Etc. at 611 North Broadway.

Besides opening the doors on Wednesday, a Kismet spring tradition also will happen on Wednesday. The new Kismet billboard will go up over the store. While "Chloe," the stylish woman in the hat, will still be part of it, a new circular wave design will make its appearance as Kismet's new logo. Look for Chloe to be holding it.

The long mural on the side of the 611 North Broadway building also will be updated to reflect the new look and style. Bracken is planning to take down about 16 feet of the current mural and have it replaced by new work by popular Rochester muralist Greg Wimmer. 

March 26, 2015

Furniture store owners buy building for $5 million

A year after quadrupling the size of their businesses by leasing the former Menards North store, two Rochester retailers have purchased the building for $5 million.

Jim Sather and Mark Byer moved Furniture Superstore and America's Mattress into the complex at 5150 U.S. 52 North last spring, shortly after Mernards moved to a new store. They were leasing the huge store and the surrounding 10 acres of property with an option to buy it after a year.

They closed on the deal to buy it for $5.09 million from John Mernard Jr. on March 17.

"Our intent all along was to buy the building," Sather said Wednesday. "Business has been stellar here. That and outstanding support from Bremer Bank helped make this happen. It's a big deal for us."

Sather and Byer also bought the adjacent Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft store for $2.4 million on the same day, but they immediately sold it to Rochester-based Brackenridge 52 LLC for $3.4 million. While it's unclear who the new owners are, it appears the very successful Jo-Ann Fabric store will remain where it is for now.

Now that they own the building, Sather and Byer plan to upgrade their store. The first step is to remodel inside the store and then reface the building within the next 12 months or so, Sather said.

A team of 18 employees staff the furniture/mattress store. However, it isn't just retail sales that's driving the business. They are renting out portions of the former Menards outdoor lumber yard for boat and RV storage. Other businesses, including a trucking firm, are  using the yard for storage.

They also are considering other business possibilities on the land in front of and behind the facility.

"We'll see what happens," Sather said.

March 13, 2015

A New Age shop opens in Rochester's Cooke Park Design District

The owner of a new Rochester shop hopes to fill a spiritual void in this area.

Brinn McManus opened the doors of A Beautiful Soul on Friday at 619 6th Ave. NW. That's where Culligan water used to operate until it moved to Woodlake Drive Southeast in 2006.

Beautifulsoul1McManus describes her new business as "Rochester's first New Age Metaphysical gift store." It carries a variety of things like, healing herbs, gems, crystal, jewelry and aromatherapy materials.

"There is definitely a need for this," she said. "That's obvious by how many people have been stopping by even before were ready to open."

A Beautiful Soul is also more than just a gift shop. It also has Reiki master Teri Anderson on staff to offer Reiki, reflexology and acupressure treatments on site. McManus also plans to offer individual and group mediation classes as well as hosting visiting psychic practitioners and healers for weekend events.
Bautifulsoul2
"This is something I've wanted to do for some time, but it was never the right time or the right spot," she said. "Now I feel good that we've found the right spot."

A Beautiful Soul is the latest in a string of small artistic and unique businesses that have opened recently in that once faded neighborhood. Paul Bennett opened Dwell Local,a design and art shop in the former Paw and Claws building at 602 Seventh St. NW. The Urban Easel art studio soon opened next door at 608 Seventh St. NW. A European auto repair shop, Werkstatt 533, then came in and renovated an empty brick warehouse just up the street at 533 Sixth Ave NW.

The word is that a well-known floral arts designer may also be moving into the area soon.

All of that activity is leading people like McManus and Bennett to start dubbing the northwest neighborhood as the Cooke Park Design District.

It seems like a Renaissance of sorts is underway in the Cooke Park area, so the new name seems to fit pretty well at this point.