Discount Tire opened quietly in Baxter about a week ago. An opening ceremony Friday was anything but, however, with the presence of former Gov. Jesse Ventura.
Jason Diaz, store manager, said the store — which represents the chain’s 850th one — hired 10 employees. Ventura was present at Friday’s grand opening, along with Baxter city officials. Ventura is a relative of Diaz’s wife, Tiffany.
In a competitive market, Diaz said Discount Tire plans to carve out a place focusing on service.
“That’s the only thing that will set us apart,” he said. The store offers to do rotations and fix flats for free, no matter where the customer bought the original tires. Diaz has been with Discount Tire for 15 years. He left to serve in the Marine Corps but when he was a police officer for five years in his native Victoria, Texas, he still worked changing tires at Discount Tire there.
While in Texas, Diaz saw an opportunity to move to the growing market in Minnesota. He asked his store manager about the state and after hearing good things made the move. He said he’s glad he did. He met his wife here.
Diaz, 33, said he when he first arrived he went to Minnetonka to meet people by the lake. They were in shorts and T-shirts. He went back to his car for a coat. It was May. Diaz has been in Minnesota eight years. The last four years he was manager of the Lino Lakes Discount Tire store.
Diaz said Baxter reminds him of Texas for its small home town feel. He said he wants to be involved in the community.
“I hope I have to hire an army of people,” he said.
Jack Pine Brewery, in Baxter’s industrial park, reports it is weeks away from opening its tap room and should be available in early January. Owner Patrick Sundberg said the first batch of “Duck Pond” is fermenting and should get into kegs after Christmas. And the first batch of “Fenceline” is also in the works. In an update, Sundberg said federal and state approvals are completed and now he is working to finalize details with the city of Baxter.
Leah Jacobson, internationally board certified lactation consultant, recently started a private practice in the lakes area called Naturally Nourished Baby, a breastfeeding support and care business.
Jacobson has a master’s degree in health and wellness and reports working with a wide variety of mothers while gaining her degree and certification. She specializes in troubleshooting breastfeeding problems.
Jacobson, a mother of five, works out of home office in Ironton. She meets with mothers in their homes and at her office and provides phone consultations. She meets with mothers after their babies are delivered and covers an area about 15 miles around Brainerd. Jacobson said breastfeeding has been a huge part of her life and it’s something a lot of women struggle with silently.
“I just want to be there to help women with that,” she said.
If you haven’t finished Christmas shopping, fear not. You aren’t alone and there is still time. A recent Visa Inc. survey found 73 percent of consumers still had Christmas gifts to buy.
Nothing against the big box retailers, but small, independent store owners would like you to know they also have items that may just fit the last few people on your list. Santa was planning to visit downtown Brainerd this weekend. And this weekend presents the last shopping opportunity at the Downtown Art and Frame on Laurel Street.
Visa reports ‘panic shopping’ sets in for those last-minute shoppers. And those shoppers will spend an average of $304 in the final days, Visa reported using more than 1,000 telephone interviews between Dec. 14-17 to get the data.
Last year, with one final Saturday before Christmas — which is often the biggest shopping day of the season beating out Black Friday — 77 percent of consumers had yet to finish their shopping and planned to spend $278.
“With this many Americans still desperate to buy gifts, we are officially in the danger zone for ‘panic shopping’,” said Jason Alderman, Visa’s Senior Director of Global Financial Education, in a news release. “When shoppers panic, they throw money at the problem and often overspend to get a gift – any gift – in time for Christmas.”
In the survey, 69 percent of Midwesterners still had gifts to buy and planned to spend $239. Westerners led regions with 79 percent still shopping and planning to spend $352.
■ 78 percent of Northeasterners still have gifts to buy and will spend $271.
■ 79 percent of Westerners still have gifts to buy and will spend $352.
■ 74 percent of women nationally still have gifts to buy and will spend $218.
■ 72 percent of men nationally still have gifts to buy and will spend $399.
■ 71 percent of people with household income under $20,000 still have gifts to buy and will spend $170.
■ 74 percent of people with household income between $20,000 and $49,999 still have gifts to buy and will spend $208.
■ 78 percent of people with household incomes more than $50,000 still have gifts to buy and will spend $401.
To avoid the panic shopping spree, Visa advises spending no more than 1.5 percent of annual income on holiday expenses. For a family earning $50,000 a year, that means spending $750 or less on all aspects of the holidays.
Tips for a manageable Christmas buying experienced include:
■ Establish a “micro budget” — a specific spending limit — for each person on your gift list.
■ Make a group contribution to a charity, in lieu of gifts to each other.
■ Instead of buying a gift at a store, Visa says consider giving the gift of your time by providing an experience like agreeing to cook dinner on a weekend night, clean the house or do laundry, perhaps give a punch coupon for dusting or cook a meal for the folks once a month.
Other fiscal managers also suggest setting up a separate Christmas spending account and putting in a few dollars throughout the year so the holidays don’t sap December’s tight budget. Visa reports it offers a free online holiday budgeting calculator at www.practicalmoneyskills.com/holiday and an iPhone app under “Practical Money Skills calculators” in the iTunes store.
And, on a personal note, have a Merry Christmas.