Biz Buzz: Rave Creamworks and Victual to arrive with summer; Hockey House to close. Cozy Bay Resort looks to expand with RV campground
This summer, lakes area residents and visitors will have a new option that promises a chance to rethink ice cream and provide gourmet foods not readily available in the lakes area.
Named Victual, the store will feature artisan cheeses, charcuterie (French for cured meats and pâtés), packaged gourmet foods, specialty distilled liqueurs and fine wines, dinnerware, cocktail accessories, gifts and what the owners describe as a super premium ice cream from Rave Creamworks.
Owners Paul Kirkman and Paul VanderWaal, both from Remer, are behind the venture. Kirkman will be forefront for the operation.
The business purchased two brick buildings on Main Street in need of major renovation in Crosby. The look for Victual promises to be a blend of fresh, clean, modern and a hint of a northwoods feel with white-washed wood. The work is aimed at appealing to the senses on many levels.
Look for a feature story next Sunday on all that Victual has in mind, how it started and where owners hope to take the business.
Hockey House is ending its run in downtown Brainerd.
Both Dan and Amy Anderson grew up in Brainerd and worked downtown for years. They first opened their business in the summer of 2012 and found a following with hockey supplies, equipment and service along with clothing and gift items that appeal well beyond hockey enthusiasts.Later, they moved downtown on Laurel Street in the former Art and Frame space. In the vacant storefront, they saw an opportunity to be part of something in their hometown, a small business neighborhood.
"We both wanted to get back to an almost community feel," Dan Anderson said at the time, adding they wanted to be able to walk across the street and know their neighbors. The move, they said, worked out well.
And then, last summer, after their kids left for college, the Andersons reported they decided to close the store. Dan Anderson made the announcement on social media at 8:23 p.m. Feb. 28.
"We realized that we don't want the 80 hour work weeks anymore," Anderson wrote. "We want to travel and have more free time."
Anderson said 28 years in retail is long enough as he added up 21 years at Bob and Fran's furniture store in downtown Brainerd, as well as Hockey House's seven years. The storewide sale is on.
"To all who have ever passed through our doors! We say thank you!!," Anderson wrote. "Don't be sad, as for we are really excited."
Cozy Bay Resort owners are planning an expansion to include a 40-unit recreational vehicle park this summer with seasonal campsites called Lake Mollie RV Parcels. Bret and Suzette Jevning have owned and operated Cozy Bay Resort since 1998. Bret Jevning said Wednesday the idea of an RV park has been percolating for some time and the land across from Cozy Bay with its access to environmental Lake Mollie provided an opportunity. The plan is to limit the traffic on the lake to non-motorized watercraft—kayaks, paddleboards and canoes, for example.
"It seems everyone has a kayak or canoe strapped to their car, it's just an industry that has taken off," Jevning said.
The resort will provide a parking area for trailers and for motorized boats and plans to have a boat pressure wash as a way to clean boats and help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
He said Mollie Lake is known for its otters, loons and quiet setting. He described Cozy Bay on Lake Edward as a family resort with lakeside and second row cabins, lodge, a lake home and 12 seasonal sites.
The Jevnings came to the Brainerd lakes area from Jamestown, N.D., looking for a family business and a place to raise their children Mari and Allen. They liked the schools here and the tourist region seemed a natural fit. Jevning said they sold everything they could and made a downpayment on Cozy Bay. Jevning said they created a resort with a Middle Class sensibility that is basically full of guests from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
"A nice family resort, a great place to raise the kids," Jevning said, noting the work also allowed him to go to his son's sporting events through three sports in high school. Now, Jevning said his grown children have expressed an interest in the family business, which played into the desire to grow the resort with the new enterprise Lake Mollie RV Parcels.
On land that once was home to a grass airstrip—still is readily visible by air as it cuts through the forest—the Jevnings plan to cut out 5 acres of trees and put in large seasonal sites at 4,000 square feet (twice the size of the state's minimum requirement) with space between sites, along with 100 amp electrical service to each, new sewer and septic, a fire ring and an option to have a 400-square-foot deck and a storage shed. The idea is to use the old runway and then cut into the trees along the runway and closer to the lake. The larger open space already part of the property will remain for future use, perhaps a dog park area, perhaps a pavillion or play area depending on what the customers ultimately need. The open area was determined to be too far from the lake to work for the individual RV sites. The majority of the trees will remain, Jevning said.
People will be able to lease the RV sites with an annual contract, $3,200 for the lakefront sites and $2,600 for the sites farther away. Jevning said they are using a bigger setback from the lake than is required and going back 200 feet from Mollie Lake instead of the 150 feet. Jevning said only foot traffic will be permitted within the 150-foot setback.
While a number of mom and pop resorts have closed in recent years, Jevning noted their operation is looking at ways to diversify and expand. Jevning said diversifying and focusing on customer service have played a major role in their longevity and success. He said as resort owners they decided from the onset to treat their customers as invited guests. He said the RV parcels, so picked as a name because of the size and plan for the new business, is something that can appeal to residents and tourists and fills an established demand for a vacation experience, whether that is 10 or 100 miles from home.
"It's fun," he said. "We've has so much fun in 20 years of owning the resort."
Apricot Lane, a women's clothing store, and Serenity Design, a retailer, are reported to be going into the Starbucks center in Baxter.
RiverWood Bank in Baxter, a local, community bank serving nine communities in northern and central Minnesota, is now employee-owned.
"The greatest part of being an employee-owner is that I am part of an organization that places value on employees and rewards them for being part of something bigger," said Dionne Rozario, loan operations system specialist and employee-owner at the operations office, in a news release.
RiverWood Bank reported it recently launched an employee stock ownership plan resulting in nearly 100 employees becoming employee-owners.
"Employees are RiverWood's number one asset. Becoming an ESOP rewards the many long-time employees for their dedication and expertise to our customers as well as provides an advantage going forward to recruit and retain the very best to join our team," RiverWood Bank co-founder and CEO Paul Means stated.
RiverWood Bank was formed 16 years ago from bank charters in Morris and Bemidji that date back more than 100 years.
"There is a long history of meeting the needs of our communities and this new ownership structure will help ensure our customers continue to receive the excellent service they deserve for years to come," Means stated in the release.
"If we work hard as a team and show pride in ownership, we will not only meet and exceed customer expectations, we will be rewarded with a significant benefit when we retire," Josh Rardin, senior credit analyst and employee-owner at the Baxter branch.
RiverWood Bank has branches in Bagley, Baudette, Baxter, Bemidji, Benson, Big Lake, Crosslake, Monticello and Morris.