Big Lots opened Thursday in the Westgate Mall in Baxter.
The “soft” opening brought in customers who spotted the “now open” sign in front of the store. Big Lots also broke the news on its Facebook page. After a few cars gathered by the store’s entrance in the morning, more customers pulled into the parking lot.
A grand opening is planned May 25 with a ceremony. At that time, Mike Kyler, Big Lots district manager, plans to present $2,500 for Baxter Elementary School to Steve Lundberg, principal.
Shoppers drifted through the store aisles Thursday with a diverse offering. The store includes grocery items from snacks and soups to pickled asparagus, greeting cards, toys, sofas, lamps, microwaves, bedding, electronics, DVDs, garden equipment and furniture, coolers, cleaning supplies, fans to electric fireplaces ... it’s a large list. There are dollar items as well.
Big Lots describes itself as North America’s largest broadline closeout retailer, operating 1,451 stores in the lower 48 states and 82 Liquidation World and LW stores in Canada. The chain also has wholesale operations and online sales.
Merchandise includes name brands from Serta mattresses to Cisco wireless routers to T-fal cookware and Cuisinart single serve coffee makers.
Endless pasta bowls and salads are getting closer to a plate near you as Olive Garden begins to take shape. Construction is under way near J.C. Penney Co. just off Highway 371 and Glory Road in Baxter. The walls are now complete for the Lakes 12 movie theater additional auditoriums, which will have two of the three 3D screens.
Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program, known as Rural Minnesota CEP, was named the state of Minnesota’s Provider of the Year. The state reported the award is based on the program’s “demonstrated commitment to quality customer service and responsibility with taxpayer investment. It was also based on the agency’s ability to generate strong and consistent results in a large area of the state that includes some truly challenging economic and demographic trends.”
Rural Minnesota CEP, a private nonprofit partner with the WorkForce Center in the Community Services building on Laurel Street, works to help people find jobs, research career options and connect with training needed to land jobs people want. There is no charge for the program’s services.
Rural Minnesota CEPs monitor information on job openings, host job skills workshops — such as job interviewing, resume writing and job search techniques. The program offers a job search center with computers and Internet access, telephones, printers, copiers and fax machines to help job seekers connect with potential employers. Staff serve as resources regarding the changing labor market and employment law.
For employers, Rural Minnesota CEP reports it is able to help reduce the cost of adding new workers through on-the-job training. Rural Minnesota CEP posts job openings and hosts job fairs and provides space to interview prospective job candidates.
Paradigm Automotive Performance, on Laurel Street in West Brainerd, is hosting a grand re-opening after expanding its retail store 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 19. The store is now five times larger than it was allowing for expanded product lines, a side street entrance and with work now viewable from the store. The event includes an informal car show.
The Jack Pine Brewery,
which was recently approved to move forward with a nano-brewery and taproom on College Road in Baxter, has signature beer offerings planned. Founder Patrick Sundberg said his small brewery will be making 40-gallon batches with growlers (half gallon jugs) and pints available in the taproom. Jack Pine Brewery is focusing on three beers — Fenceline Pale Ale, Duck Pond Nut Brown Ale and Dead Branch Cream Ale.
The Fenceline Pale Ale is a described as having citrus hop flavor and aroma. Sundberg said it’s not as aggressive as an IPA. The Duck Pond ale is described as an English pub style beer that is a deep ruddy brown with creamy off-white head and toasty and nutty flavors. The Dead Branch Cream Ale is described as having a “mild grainy flavor with hints of sweet corn: flavors commonly found in today’s mass-market yellow beers.”
The seasonal beer called a Hornet’s Nest Honey Lemon Wheat includes fresh local honey and lemon zest.
College Pines Office Park, which began its life as Haglin Professional Park, off College Road behind College Square convenience store, was approved for changes. Originally designed with preserved woods and a common area designed to offer a walking space and natural area for the complex of office buildings was approved to eliminate the majority of the common area and move to a more traditional lot and block development with city streets.
Developers reported a move to a more traditional layout without the common area is being made to make the office space more appealing to buyers. Changes include reducing setbacks for existing buildings and parking lots. The Haglin Professional Park was first approved as a planned unit development (PUD) on May 18, 2004. Since that time four of 10 building sites were developed. The new owners told the city of Baxter the PUD arrangement was a deterrent to getting the other six lots developed.
The city’s planning and zoning commission noted one lot was modified to show preservation of the Norway pine plantation on the site. At the council meeting Tuesday, a College Pines Office Park representative asked to reconsider that preservation buffer giving the developer an additional 20 feet to get more room on the north/south line to develop the lot. The council agreed.