Biz Buzz: Firehouse Subs opens, Super Saturday looms

Forget Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the biggest shopping day of the season is ahead and what if going to a local, independent business to see what they have to offer was part of the final shopping list? It could make a big impact for local businesses, owners, staffs and the community.

People eat at the new Firehouse Subs Wednesday, Dec. 18, in Baxter. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Firehouse Subs is now open.

As with any new restaurant opening in the area, the Baxter restaurant was busy with customers who wanted to check it out on Wednesday night.

Bob and Larissa Sullivan have the Firehouse Subs franchise in Baxter. They said they liked the whole concept from the food to the corporate culture and community involvement and the history behind it. They also liked the whole concept of both welcoming customers each time they enter and verbally welcoming employees to work as well.

Firehouse Subs is in the Northwoods Crossing development on Dellwood Drive near Menards.

For those out doing their holiday shopping, there are a growing number of options for dining and delivery of food from restaurants to fast-food outlets. And this weekend, the last Saturday — dubbed Super Saturday -- before Christmas, is traditionally the busiest of the season.


The National Retail Federation reported nearly 148 million Americans plan to shop Saturday, both online and in stores, amounting to an increase from 134.3 million in 2018. How does that compare to Black Friday and the long Thanksgiving holiday shopping weekend? The federation report counts 189.6 million unique shoppers over the five days starting with Thanksgiving.

“While many people started holiday shopping early, those who waited until Thanksgiving weekend are feeling the pressure due to the limited number of days this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a news release.“But there is still time to catch up. The last Saturday before Christmas has become the biggest shopping day of the year, and we expect an impressive turnout by procrastinators and those who just want to take advantage of really good deals.”

After a chilly Wednesday, temperatures should moderate and be a welcome warmup for people running errands or wrapping up shopping sprees.

“As of early December, 86 percent of holiday consumers had started shopping and they had completed 52 percent of their purchasing for the season,” the federation reported. “Last year at the same point, 88 percent of consumers had started and had completed 58 percent of their holiday purchases on average. In 2013, the last time there were 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, consumers had completed 50 percent of their purchases at the same point.

“For those who had at least half of their shopping left, 41 percent were still deciding what to buy, 28 percent were waiting for family and friends to tell them what they wanted, and 26 percent were holding off for the best deals.”

For those still working on their list, there is a lot of company. The federation reported 56% of holiday shoppers plan to get their last gift this week and 62% planned to shop Super Saturday.

The National Retail Federation predicted retail sales in November and December would grow between 3.8% and 4.2% with consumers planning to spend $1,048 on average. That amounts to a 4% increase when looking at what whey expected to spend last year.

And if those same consumers took part of their spending — online and in stores — at least part of it to small local businesses it could make a major impact for business owners, employees and the community. Perhaps it’s a decision to shop local and make the effort to go to a store a shopper hasn’t been in recently or ever. That’s part of the message with the 3 50 Project — taking three independently owned businesses and spending $50 there each month. That can be a lot. But what if those shoppers this last week made the decision to spend $50 at three independently owned local businesses? Even that would make a difference. The 3 50 Project reports for every $100 spent at a locally owned independent store, $68 returns to the community — taxes, wages, expenditures.


Work continues to transform the former Herberger’s into Ashley Furniture at the Westgate Mall.

Kohl’s announced it will be open 24 hours beginning Dec. 20 through 6 p.m. Christmas Eve for those still looking to complete their shopping lists.

Deerwood Bank is hosting an open house to showcase its recent remodel and upgrades Friday with cookies, refreshments and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus from 3-4:30 p.m. The jolly elf and spouse will be available for greetings and photos. .

Deerwood Bank was established in 1910 in Deerwood and reports updates and expansions in that 109 year span looking at customer needs and advancements in technology.

Recently, Deerwood Bank finished a remodel project that includes major overhauls of the lobby and drive-thru technology.

“The last major remodel in our Deerwood office took place in 1974. We’re all very excited to showcase the new upgrades,” said Rachel Carpenter, vice president of Retail Banking at Deerwood Bank, in a news release..

The bank reported “in addition to a completely redesigned and updated lobby with custom office and teller furnishings, updates also include new paint, carpet, windows, exterior brickwork and limestone arches that will restore the original facade.”

The remodel’s final phase is being completed in December. Those updates include updates to the drive-up lanes.


“A pneumatic tube system was installed to both drive-up lanes and includes interactive LCD monitors. The monitors allow drive-up customers to interact with Deerwood Bank staff who process drive-up transactions from the front lobby of the bank,” the bank reported.

Original Deerwood memorabilia covering the bank’s history is on display, including photos and historic artifacts.

Hy-Tec Construction of Brainerd managed the remodel project.

Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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