As one year departs to make way for the new, one thing remains constant—a changing business landscape. 2018 witnessed the first holiday season without both retail stalwarts Herberger's and J.C. Penney. But new businesses are joining the lakes area communities and others are changing the way business as usual may be viewed. J.C. Penney remains vacant in Baxter but the former large department store space that made up most of Herberger's is being transformed into a Planet Fitness site in Brainerd.
Momentum to revitalize downtown Brainerd continued in 2018. From a second Destination Downtown Business Challenge attracting even more entrepreneurs to participate than the first effort, to efforts to integrate art into downtown, to continued plans to build on momentum for the River to Rail initiative, downtown Brainerd had an eventful year. The winner of the second Destination Downtown business contest is bringing a bakery to downtown Brainerd in 2019.
Few things must change perspective of life on Earth than seeing our blue planet from the moon's perspective. Charlie Duke, one of 12 men to walk on the surface of the moon, was the keynote speaker this past summer at the fourth annual Lakes Area Mayors Prayer Breakfast.
Evenson's Hallmark store in the Westgate Mall is closing. The store made the announcement last week with a closing sale. The Willow Tree figurines statues were transferred to another store location. Evenson's Hallmark describes itself as a family owned, second generation, independent operator of Gold Crown Hallmark stores in the upper Midwest. The family owned business was established in 1972. The company's website has 12 store locations across Minnesota and include single stores in Iowa, Wisconsin, and South Dakota.
Homes are filled with more smart appliances and Wi-Fi-connected devices than ever, but when internet connections start slowing down, the problem could be a piece of overlooked hardware. Smart appliances—streaming devices like Apple TVs, Rokus or Amazon Firestick, Netflix, smartplugs, smart light bulbs, smartphones, tablets, TVs, computers, gaming devices—are all vying for space and combined may be too much for one of the connections people may not think much about—their wireless router.
Paul and Lynn Hunt have been making a difference in the lakes area for decades as innovators, investors, employers, volunteers and philanthropists. They've provided a look at how things could be for better living and worked to bring those visions into reality. They turned their self-described insatiable curiosity about the world and a desire to help others, wrapped in an unending interest in finding not only how and why things work but how they can work better. Their curiosity, the Hunts stated, is their biggest asset.
I love technology and gadgets.
Shoppers in search of deals were in force at numerous lakes area businesses on Black Friday. Before 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 23, there were busy parking lots from Fleet Farm to Costco. A tour of businesses found shoppers in numbers at Best Buy, Target, Kohl's, Home Depot, Walmart, T.J. Maxx, PetSmart, Ulta Beauty, Dick's Sporting Goods, Big Lots, Dunham's and the Westgate Mall, but Menards appeared to be the most packed, with parked vehicles extending out along the service drives leaving to the Baxter retailer.
BAXTER—Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen received a substantial donation to help meet its funding goals this week. Miner's Super One Foods presented the soup kitchen with a $5,000 check Tuesday, Nov. 20, at the company's grocery store in Baxter. "This will pay for a lot of meals," said Pastor Bob Evans, director of Sharing Bread Soup Kitchen in Brainerd, a grassroots community effort to provide meals for those in need. "We're thrilled to be able to help you guys," Patrick Miner, store director, told Evans.
BAXTER—Gone are the cramped narrow aisles with merchandise stacked high overhead, and newly added are more features to make shopping more user friendly in the remodeled Walmart Supercenter in Baxter.