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1335 posts categorized "Retail news"

June 24, 2014

Prosthetic Laboratories of Rochester sold to Texas company

After 30 years under local ownership, a Rochester prosthetic firm has been bought out by an Austin, Texas-based company.

Prosthetic Laboratories of Rochester, Inc., founded here by former Mayo Clinic technicians Steve Amundson and Mike Gozola in 1984, has been acquired by Hanger Inc.

Exterior_rochester3Darren Overton of Prosthetic Labs confirmed the sale, but didn't say when it occurred or what it might mean for the about 85 employees that work at Prosthetic Lab's offices in Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota.

Hangarlogo"We aren't at liberty to disclose details of the acquisition, but what we can share is that we are pleased our company has joined the Hanger family," he stated in an email response to questions. "Hanger provides more opportunities and resources to our staff and patients than we could as an independent facility."

A media representative for Hanger said they could not discuss the purchase yet. The publicly traded company describes itself as the largest owner and operator of orthotic and prosthetic patient care clinics in the United States.

In 2009, the majority owner of Prosthetic Labs was Rochester developer Gus Chafoulias. He owned the private company along with Gozola and Amundson. It's unclear if those three were still the owners, when Hangar bought the firm.

Its main Rochester facility is located at 121 23rd Ave. S.W., in front of the Shorewood Senior Campus along Second Street Southwest. Prosthetic Labs' corporate family also includes Lair’s Shoes, the Silhouette Shoppe and Ortho Innovations. Its staff saw an average of 10,000 patients a year at its Rochester office in 2009.

While Prosthetic Labs has been very successful locally, it's much smaller than its new new owner. Hanger reports that it has an annual net income of about $60 million and makes about $1 billion of sales a year. It has more than 5,000 employees working at 740 clinic locations.

Acquiring mid-sized firms like Prosthetic Labs is not a new thing for Hanger. In 2012, it bought six companies.

In May, Hanger reported earnings for the first quarter that did not rise to the levels analysts had expected. The company reported an earning per share of 19 cents, missing the estimate of 24 cents. Its quarterly revenue of $235.60 million was below the anticipated $243.60 million

May 29, 2014

Second Salvation Army store to open

Rochester should have two Salvation Army thrift stores within a few months.

Work has started in a 1,400-square-foot space in the Slumberland Center at 4909 U.S. 52 North, along the frontage road, according to David Ferber, the local director of community engagement for the Salvation Army.

The space is being divided to set up a sales floor separated from the donation sorting area.

E06c662a-9cf7-4fa6-b6ed-565c49263db1The hope is to have it ready to open by late summer or more likely by early fall.

The Salvation Army is leasing the space from Lou Grimaldi, who owns Slumberland as well as the commercial space behind the store. It will be about half the size of the current south Rochester thrift store at 201 Ninth St. S.E., though it will offer the same mix of donated clothing, household goods, toys, books and more.

"We have been working on this for a while. We realized there was a need in Rochester for another store," Ferber said. "Our customers have told us that they want a northwest store."

He credited Grimaldi with helping to finally make this project a reality. While the location is not as visible as most traditional stores want, Ferber says it is a good fit for the Salvation Army.

"We're a destination. I think people will find us," he said.

The Salvation Army's thrift store always has been popular in Rochester, though it has been located in different spots.

Since 2006, the thrift store has been in its spot in the west end of the Kmart center. Its former building downtown now is used for its Caring Partners Adult Day Program.

In recent years, the resale market has grown in Rochester, with Savers, Goodwill and several private shops opening or expanding. That has served Salvation Army well, as more than 80 percent of the sale of each donated item is used to support Rochester programs.

"We have an amazingly generous community," said Brad Dahlke, who is assistant manager of the current store and will be in charge of the new north Rochester location.

Dahlke anticipates it will take about 15 to 18 employees to staff the new store. The current one has about 28 staffers.

He says Rochester always has responded well to the Salvation Army's store with donations as well as shoppers. Some frequent the store for its inexpensive basics. However, others shop like it's a "treasure hunt."

"Lots of antique dealers and collectors shop the store," Dahlke said.

While finding that valuable item is rare, it does happen occasionally. He recalled the story of a person who bought a dusty floor lamp for $5 and re-sold it for $5,600.

May 28, 2014

Analyst speculates that Hormel may be target of takeover bid

There's a lot of merger and acquistion activity cooking in the meatier aisles of the financial markets these days.

Spammy2The latest was Pilgrim Pride's surprise move to buy Hillshire Brands. Lots of investors with stock options profited from the $6.4 billion deal and that's leading to speculation about the next meat deal to hit the grill might be.

I spotted a very speculative column today on Barron's website by Scott H. Fullman of investment research firm, Increasing Alpha, on that topic. Fullman focused Austin's favorite Fortune 500 company and the creator of Spam, Hormel Foods, as a takeover candidate.

I have no idea if his theories make sense.

Here's some from Fullman's piece:

"Often when such an acquisition takes place, we look for other candidates. One stock seeing increased interest re Spamproductscently is Hormel Foods Corp, which rose back above its 100-day moving average Tuesday and was attempting to break above its 50-day moving average, but ended the day just below it. Momentum is rising sharply and volume is higher as well.

We are seeing a slight increase in implied volatility for Hormel, even as the shares jumped. The 30-day implied volatility is up more than 0.7% for calls, and down 0.8% for puts, indicating a sharp shift in bullish sentiment.

Despite the rise, those risk premiums are still close to their 52-week lows. Clearly, other traders are having the same thought as we are.

If you are looking for a low-cost, low-dollar-risk entry, consider purchasing the Hormel July $50 calls, which are offered at 40 cents. The delta on that option, which shows the current relationship between the movement of the stock and the option, is 23%, but it is expected to rise as the call becomes closer to being at-the-money, thereby increasing the leverage of the option. If the stock rises 10% from here to $52.58, the options will be worth $2.58, for a gain of $2.18 per share, or 545%. If the shares fail to rise, you will lose 40 cents per share, or 100% of your investment.

That compares, however, to a potential loss of $1.14 for those purchasing shares if the stock reverts to Friday's closing price.

Our suggestion is to purchase an equivalent number of calls to the amount of stock you can afford to buy, thereby keeping your risk in check.

May 23, 2014

New Amish furniture store opens in southwest Rochester

Rochester's newest Amish-made furniture store opened its doors for the first time Thursday. 10356346_241722129357743_6258011130625535514_n

Deutsch Furniture Haus opened its 7,700-square-foot store at 3551 Commercial Drive Southwest in the old Mill's Fleet Farm building along South U.S. 63. ApplianceSmart occupies the rest of the building.

Two Rochester couples, Brian and Michelle Rand along with Philip and Nissa Kraling, are excited to have the business rolling along. They even have an Amish buggy out front.

"We ha 10382875_243297112533578_8444091897688806088_nve something for every room — the bedroom, dining room, office, nursery, pretty much everything," said Michelle Rand.

They even carry a line of Amish-made mattresses.

All of the furniture is crafted by Amish families in southern Minnesota and some in northern Indiana.

As a sideline, Brian Rand sold furniture made by local Amish for five years online. It eventually grew to the point that they decided it was time to open a store. Brian Rand and Philip Kraling are brothers, so it's a family-owned-and-operated business.

The Rands and the Kralings have a grand opening event planned for June 12-14. It will include a drawing for prizes.

To be respectful of the furniture makers' beliefs, the new store will not be open on Sundays. Amish beliefs also factored into why the word Amish was not included in the store's name. It is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

May 22, 2014

Hers store to reluctantly close at Apache Mall

Sometimes things don't work out as planned, like a longtime local retailer's return to the Rochester's Apache Mall.

Hers, which has a pair of successful women’s clothing stores in downtown, opened a third store in the Apache Mall in 2012. That signaled the Dahlstrom family's return to the mall, where the first version of their store originally opened 34 years. In fact, the store founder, BoApacheb Dahlstrom, was once the manager of the old Dayton's store in the Apache Mall.

Owner Bruce Dahlstrom, Bob Dahlstrom's son, thought having a store in the mall would help Hers reach customers who don't shop in downtown Rochester.

Now that outreach will soon come to an end. The Apache Mall location put up signs this week announcing the start of "a store closing sale." Bruce Dahlstrom confirms that his Apache Mall store will close its doors at least by the end of July, a move that he feels was forced on Hers.

"It wasn't our choice," he said.

Hers has one year left on its three year lease with the Apache Mall. Dahlstrom had planned to keep that store open at least into 2015. The sales numbers have been "reasonable" to support the store, which has five employees on staff.

3e455f11-88a5-4cb5-81a5-ecfbb83eb371The hitch in that plan is that the Apache Mall management has different plans for the 1,550-square-foot space Hers occupies in the Macy's wing of the mall. Dahlstrom says he was told that  the space was needed for a national tenant.

When contacted for a comment, Mall Manager Kim Bradley said her company, General Growth Management, doesn't discuss such business dealings.

"The gave us the option to re-locate to another spot, but we'd to build it out at our expense," Dahlstrom said. The Rochester retailer had already invested quite a bit in building out the current Apache Mall.

Eventually, a frustrated Dahlstrom decided to just close the Hers store in the mall and put all of his focus on the "healthy" downtown stores as well as its online presence.

May 20, 2014

Hy-Vees to add sit-down restaurants

The Hy-Vee grocery chain plans to upgrade the in-store restaurants in its three Rochester stores to fit its full sit-down model, which serves beer and wine. 

05202014hyveebarlowRemodeling the current spaces into Hy-Vee's Market Café casual restaurant format could begin as soon as June at the Barlow Plaza and Crossroads Plaza stores, said Chris Friesleben, the Iowa-based grocer's director of communications. She estimates that the new cafes could be ready to open by August.

The Hy-Vee store on 37th Street Northwest also has a new Market Cafe on the menu, but it will always undergo a major renovation. It will get a new pharmacy, customer service counter and floral area. The exterior will get a major face-lift and Rochester2the parking lot will be repaired as well as expanded. That construction project is tentatively expected to begin in July.

When they open, the new Market Cafes will have a wait staff that will take orders at the tables, in contrast to the current cafeteria-style ordering used in Rochester's Hy-Vee eateries. They will also offer beer and wine with the meals.

West Des Moines-based Hy-Vee is an employee-owned corporation operating 235 retail stores in eight Midwestern states. For 2013 the company recorded sales of $8 billion, ranking it among the top 25 supermarket chains in the United States.

The sit-down Stor1547 restaurant is a model that Hy-Vee has found success with in other markets.

"We've always been in food service. We do very well at breakfast and at lunch, but it really drops off for dinner in Rochester now," said Friesleben. "Everywhere we have Market Cafes, we find that the evening traffic picks up. By adding these to the Rochester stores, we hope to capture more of that dinner crowd."

She explained that by the end of the work day, customers want to relax and have someone come to take their order. They also seem to be more interested in having a glass of wine or a beer with dinner.

The seating in the Hy-Vee's food service areas will close down for construction, which should take about two months.  New tables and booths will be installed as will new decor.

"They will have a completely new look," Friesleben said.Iow0520hy-veemarketcafe03

The Market Cafes will also have a larger, dedicated staff than the store's restaurants have had in the past.

While Hy-Vee is moving decisively ahead with upgrades of its existing Rochester stores, it's "re-visiting the layout" of the proposed  95,000-square-foot store to be built along West Circle Drive, she said.

The project is still slated to move ahead, though the time line is uncertain until the plans are finalized. This fourth Rochester store was first announced in October 2011 after Hy-Vee purchased the property just south of the Northern Hills Golf Course for $3.19 million. It will be part of Rochester developer Dale Ragan's planned Northern Hills Commercial Park.

Previously estimated at costing between $15 million to $17 million, the proposed store is anticipated to be the largest of Hy-Vee's Rochester locations once complete. By comparison, the Hy-Vee in the Barlow Plaza is 78,000 square feet; the Crossroads store is 70,000, and the 37th Street store is about 60,000. Hy-Vee estimates that about 450 people will be hired to staff it.

Unlike the other stores, the new one is expected to have a different restaurant format called Market Grille. That model, which Hy-Vee uses in its newly constructed stores, has a more elaborate kitchen allowing for a more extensive menu.

May 15, 2014

A new play at Barlow Plaza for two local stores

Some changes are kicking around Rochester's Barlow Plaza for Once Upon A Child and Soccer Advantage.

Once Upon A Child, the "gently used" children's clothing and gear store, has moved over one space and expanded in the center's satellite building along Civic Center Drive Northwest.

05152014onceuponachildThe store, owned by Roger and Sue Mrugala, of Burnsville, has long been an anchor in shopping center. However, it was getting getting cramped in the space and couldn't carry all of the sizes that customers were requesting, according Jen Hatch of Once Upon A Child.

"So when we were given the chance to move to a larger spot, it was perfect for us," she said.

Once Upon, which was based on the north end of the building, moved south into the empty next-door storefront at 1111 Civic Center Drive N.W. Kelley's Quality Sewing Center previously was based there.

The children's clothing store upgraded from a 2,500-square-feet spot into a much a roomier 4,000-square-foot space, after the space was freshened up with new carpet, paint and other touches. It re-opened in the new spot earlier this month.

Hatch says the store is able to carry clothing up to size 16 now and they are able "to dabble in junior sizes." Plus the extra room, "makes the shopping experience more enjoyable for our customers."

Once Upon A Child's southern shift opened up its former spot for Soccer Advantage to make a move to Barlow Plaza from its current home at 3160 Wellner Drive N.E. The Rochester soccer-focused sporting goods shop is locally owned by Dean and Lynn Alcock.

The move will give it more space to play with, plus raise the five-year-old Soccer Advantage's visibility and access, say the Alcocks.

"Moving to a more central location in the city will be great for our customers," said Lynn Alcock.

Their goal is to move by the end of this month so they can be up and running by the time the World Cup soccer matches begin in June. Soccer Advantage will remain open on Wellner Drive until a day or two before making the move.

Dean Alcock, a soccer coach and retailer, says the additional room at the new site will hopefully allow the store to add big-name brands to its line-up of shoes, balls, jerseys and other gear.

"The look of the new store is going be one of the best in the Midwest," he said.

May 09, 2014

Kahler ready to freshen up downtown Rochester

Kahler Inn & Suites is ready to freshen up downtown Rochester this weekend.

Freshëns, a NewPicture41 national fast casual restaurant chain, is ready to open its doors in the hotel complex on the corner of Third Avenue and First Street Northwest.


While the official grand opening and ribbon cutting is slated for Wednesday, Dick Sursely says he expects to launch with a "soft opening" before that, possibly as soon as Saturday.

The Atlanta, Ga.-based company's menu features an array of “better for you” healthy options like rice bowls, smoothies, flatbread salads, crêpes and Freshëns' signature frozen yogurt.

The eatery has seating for 16 inside and more outside. However, Sursely expects the bulk of their business to be "take-and-go" customers during the downtown lunch rush.

This first Freshëns has 14 employees on staff. The Kahler Hospitality Group has a second downtown location already cooking in the subway of the Marriott subway. Construction is underway in the subway space last occupied by Cinta Molloy's Crate.

"They expect to have that one ready to open in a couple of months, possibly in August or July," said Sursely.

He said the plan is to hire about the same size team to run that one as the Kahler Suites' Freshëns. Sursely anticipates having about 30 employees, once both locations are up and running.

The Kahler Hospitality Group also is working on the first Dunkin' Donuts seen in Minnesota for many years. The prodigal Dunkin is being built out by Rochester's Schoeppner construction along First Avenue in the Kahler Hotel complex. Kahler officials have said they expect to open the new doughnut shop this summer.

Unconfirmed bakery buzz about plans for a second Rochester Dunkin Donuts is rolling around, rumored to be outside of downtown, possibly in southeast Rochester.

April 18, 2014

Downtown building sells for $771,000

Yet another building in Rochester's downtown core sold recently.

20140418_141438The 129-year-old building at 325 South Broadway was  purchased for $771,500 on May 26 by RGA of Rochester. RGA is a group of local investors that includes Paul Armon of Armon Architecture, Inc. and Peter and Paul Gerrard of La Crosse, Wis.-based Gerrard Co. 

Gerrard Co. developed the nearby multi-million dollar Metropolitan Market Place complex that houses the popular People's Food Cooperative as well as 62 apartments at First Avenue and Sixth Street Southwest in September.

20140418_141616The company is also working on a new Rochester apartment complex along 8 1/2 Avenue Northwest.

Unlike other recent downtown purchases, Armon and the Gerrards don't seem to have immediate development plans for that site. Their local offices are based in the building. Armon Architecture and Gerrard Cos. have been tenants there since May, 2012.

John Hasseler, a jewelry, goldsmith and artist, opened Broadway Jewelry and Visual Arts in the storefront retail space there in 2012. Prior to that, Cheri's Boutique was based there and Carson's Framing before that.

RGA bought the building, which was constructed in 1885, from the estate of Harold Perry. Perry purchased in 1999 for $185,000.

This is just one many downtown real estate purchases in recently months.

Bloom International Realty, based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, bought the seven-story Associated Bank Building at 206 S. Broadway for $7 million in September.

• Local investors paid $3 million for the Riverside Building at 400 S Broadway and two other buildings along a two-block stretch of South Broadway from Fourth Street to Sixth Street last summer.

• The 63-year-old youth theater building at 12 Fourth St. S.W. was bought for $400,000 in August by AC Acquisitions LLC of Rochester, a Titan Development & Investments company.

April 02, 2014

New Roch. Menards to open April 8

Rochester's new northside Menards store will open its doors at 6:30 a.m. April 8.

The newly completed $12 million store near the intersection of U.S. 52 and 65th Street Northwest will replace its old store at 5150 U.S. 52 North. That store is prepared to shift to close-out mode and will remain open for a while after the 65th Street store opens.

Menards also has a south Rochester store at 3000 S. Broadway.

The new 90,000-square-foot store is on 35 acres, with an additional 40 acres available for development by other businesses. Planned for years, the project wMenards-Logoas delayed while waiting for a proposed U.S. 52 interchange at 65th Street Northwest to be built. The interchange recently was constructed with funding from a portion of the local-option sales tax revenue.

“We appreciate all the loyal customers who continued to shop at Menards through the years and
look forward to opening this new store," store manager Eric Ritter said in a company announcement. "Everyone has been working really hard for weeks in preparation of opening the doors to better serve the community with all the latest, greatest home improvement products.”

The new store includes a full-service lumber yard, a garden center, appliances, pet supplies and convenience grocery items. An official grand opening for the new store will be scheduled for a later date.

Eau Claire, Wis.-based Menards operates 286 home improvement stores in 14 Midwestern states.

Once the existing Menards facility at 5150 U.S. 52 North closes, two Rochester retailers plan to upgrade the building and move their businesses into it. Jim Sather and Mark Byer, who own the Furniture Superstore Factory Outlet and America's Mattress stores, hope to move forward with that project as soon as possible.