PlayNTrade is a new store opening this fall in Baxter.
The store, in the Northwoods Plaza near Home Depot, will offer both new and used video games. With construction just beginning on the interior, the business is expected to open in early October.
The owners are a husband and wife team, Mark Westberg and Tina Theisen, of rural Brainerd, with big ideas for growth and community involvement. The basic idea behind the franchise store is to give customers a chance to try a game, even a new one, before they buy it.
With plans for eight televisions in the store, customers can give the games a test run and trade in their old games - such as Atari or Sega. The trades give others a chance to reconnect with the video games of their youth. PlayNTrade will have both retro systems and games available and they provide service to fix those game systems that are gathering dust in a closet.
Plans are for a black and blue interior in a store that will run monthly game tournaments - like Guitar Hero or Halo - so gamers can compete with others from the area, or potentially with others in the region, state or nation as the other PlayNTrade stores combine efforts.
Westberg said he researched the company for years, watching it grow, before deciding it was the franchise he wanted to be involved with - and its creative design team and community involvement focus were big attractions.
Westberg said they want to provide a famil- oriented business, with ratings to let parents know what games are like so they know just what is on that game their children want for Christmas.
With the popularity of the Wii and Wii Fit, which is designed to get people moving and exercising instead of just moving their fingers during a video game, Westberg said gamers are not limited to 15- to 25-year-olds anymore. Wii Fit has been particularly popular with senior citizens. Westberg said they are thinking about a bowling league as people may take in their own Wiis to participate.
Beyond the systems and games and repairs for either, the store will have accessories. They expect to hire two to three people. Westberg will manage the store, which is the couple's first retail setting.
Westberg said the franchise buying power will mean they will be able to get new games like Grand Theft Auto 4 and the latest Madden sports offering right away. He anticipates having midnight releases when new games are released and allowing people to pre-order.
Discount programs include Games for Grades as children with As on their report cards may be able to get discounts on games through the franchise. Westberg, who works with at risk children, said that is the type of program he is interested in getting involved in. Theisen said Westberg said they are active as mentors with Lutheran Social Services and they are interested in being involved in the community, such as sponsoring youth activities and events among others.
Offering to try new games before buying them, having vintage systems and games and taking in trades are ways PlayNTrade is set off from its competitors be they big box retailers or small independents, Westberg said.
Carole Paulson Accounting is now Carole Paulson Associates, the business recently reported. The business moved to 15229 Edgewood Drive in Baxter.
A dog's life, indeed.
Withage Farms Camp Canine in Staples opened its boarding kennel for dogs in early July on a 100-acre farm where the dogs are called campers.
Owner Pamela Withage reported wanting to open a kennel that her own four Labradors would enjoy. And Withage said there is a demand for this service in the area.
She said the farm was purchased two years ago and with the outbuildings it was a setting that could be transformed into a canine camp.
"It's kind of like Grandma's house," Withage said.
The facility has 17 kennels and Withage Farms reports the kennels have hand-painted murals of cabins and trees to go along with the camping theme. Services include "relaxing music and bedtime stories ... treks through 'Woof Woods' and larger theme suites" that include one with a deer stand in a tree and another with a hand-crafted log bed.
There is a romping area for off-leash time that is fenced in and connected to the kennels along with dog runs. Dogs have a grassy area, dig spot and bricked outside deck with the up-north theme. Withage said as each dog is called a camper the kennels are known as cabins.
Withage said the camp has averaged three to five dogs after the initial opening. The target market is a wide net - any dog owner. Withage said people who looking for a place to leave Fido while they attend a family reunion in the lakes area, or plan to escape winter via a Caribbean cruise, or are taking a weekend trip are those she hopes to attract to the facility. She provides pick-up and delivery services as well.
Basic brushouts are provided now as Withage is looking to hire a full-time dog groomer. Dog suites are $25 per night. The farm is four miles west of Staples and then four miles north, off Highway 10.
RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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