News | Business

Brake Bread: A Community Supported Model | 7.14
Insty-Prints Starting a New Era | 7.14
Be Art! Get a Tatoo | 7.14
Pearson's Is Confectious | 5.14
Summit Brewing in Growth Mode | 1.14
The Burn Unit
Dillon-Noyes Offers Quality Furniture
West Seventh Barbers | 10.13
Airborn Disc Golf Emporium | 10.13
Seventh Street Social: New Gathering Place | 10.13
Patricia's Salon | 9.13
Books ‘n Tea (Coffee and Cocoa Too) | 9.13
Unique Treasures Come to West Seventh | 7.13
A Sharp Demonstration | 7.13
Boutique for Moms-to-Be | 7.13
Never Alone Fitness | 5.13
Premier Image Barber Shop | 5.13
Moms on the Run | 5.13
Take a Look at Eyes All Over | 4.13
New Skylark Plant Wins Major National Award | 3.13
A MOD Presence in Old Neighborhood | 1.13
Outdoor adventures no matter what your ability | 9.12
Animal Emergency Care Center Opens | 8.12
A New Look at Extended Exposure | 7.12
Dave's Shoe & Leather Repair | 7.12
Falafel King | 6.12
Cosmic Aquatics | 6.12
Tradition Creek Outfitters | 6.12
J.W. Hulme Co. Committed to Neighborhood | 5.12
A Touch of Andrea | 4.12
Golden Chow Mein Celebrates Silver Anniversary | 4.12
Master Plan Drafting and Design 3.12
Fife’s: Custom PC Provides Electronic Expertise 3.12
Jandrich’s Floral Heads for Fifty with New Owner 3.12
Shoddy Knock-Offs Infiltrate the Internet | 3.12
Neighborhood Star Loans and Grants Available | 2.12
Saint Paul RiverCentre, Xcel Centre Garner Awards | 2.12
Karo's now open on West Seventh | 1.12
Hinding Company Celebrates 75 Years of Service | 12.11
West 7th Business Association Moving Ahead | 11.11
Donut as Art | 11.11
Claddagh Coffee Opens | 9.11
José Castro Farmers Insurance Agency | 9.11
Highland Nursery: An Urban Oasis | 8.11
Metro IBA | 8.11
Timberwolf CrossFit Opens on West Seventh | 7.11
La Limeña Market: Spicy!
Lady and the Lion Hair Salon
Prototype Career Service
West 7th Business Association

Brake Bread: A Community Supported Model [IMAGE]

by Jerry Rothstein

Nate Houge and Micah Taylor met each other through their music. As a performing songwriter since 1997, Nate spent a lot of time on the road — full time for the last three years. He started thinking about finding something that would involve less travel and allow him to be more at home, with his family and community.

Nate’s concerts and events were often in congregational and church settings. He would build a tour around the central event’s location. As Nate Houge, he has four albums out. With the band Welaware he has one album out, and that is where he and Micah met in 1999 — Micah plays lead guitar in the band.

Not only did they tour together, but also they and their families became close. Nate has been in the West End since 1999, and Micah has been involved in the community, working as a web designer along with his music. More recently, with Nate feeling that he needed “to get off the road,” and thinking how much he loves baking bread, they started talking about a baking and biking model that would encompass two of their favorite activities. At one point, Micah said “Let’s just do it and see what happens,” and they made a plan that might get them to where they wanted to be.

In January, via word of mouth and social media, they announced a trial period for a subscription bread service. To their surprise and delight, fifty people signed up, and two trials were held, in January and February, with weekly bakings and delivery by bike — in spite of the brutal winter weather.

All the signs were positive, and they pushed ahead with all the legal, licensing and commercial requirements. They were able to rent a commercial kitchen and solidify their planning, and succeeded in launching the business on March 1.

The model is simple. Much like Community Supported Agriculture, participants take out a subscription, paying $18 a month for a Wednesday delivery of the loaf of the week (baked that morning) to home or business location, and also to some pickup locations around the area (Vine Park Brewing is one and a downtown location is being sought with business growing there). In future they will also be looking at Farmer’s Market sales.

Presently producing 60 loaves per baking, they have four types of bread. Subscribers receive a different loaf each week: Classic Cruiser is white with 10% wheat flour and natural leaven; Flip Flop is half white/half wheat flour with natural leaven; Single Speed is a white with 10% spelt yeasted loaf; Granny Gear is yeasted with white, wheat, flax seed, sunflower seed and oatmeal. There’s an experimental “Gone Awry” loaf being tested (yes, rye flour). The breads are all as simple and straightforward as they can be, yielding a real experience of the natural flavor of the ingredients.

Nate and Micah see the name Brake Bread as a sign of slowing down, living more attentively and building community through the work they do. Already on delivery days they are amazed at how many people wave and honk at them when they see their bikes and Brake Bread trailers — and many of them are already subscribers.

For subscription information see or call 763-458-2818.

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Be Art: Get a Tattoo! [IMAGE]

by Nicole Deguzman

Now that summer has finally arrived, we’ve packed away those woolen frocks in lieu of clothing a little more revealing. With summertime waistlines exposing, sleeves disappearing, and neighbors cutting grass in viral-video worthy getups, a colorful art form is once again peeking out of seclusion. Tattoos are never more visible than during the warm summer months. Here in the West End, we have a variety of tattoo artists living and working in our community and they’ll help you get your ink on.

If you’re inspired toward epidermal embellishment, consider 7th Street Tattoo, where you can don a high quality, fairly priced tattoo from any one of the resident artists. The business has been in the West End for almost nine years. There are four artists with more than 70 years of combined experience: Pete Mason, Daniel T. Lowell (also known as D.T.), Jesse Berres, and Jeremy “Jers” Tupta. Pete describes the business as a “Traditional American Tattoo Street Shop” experience. Reminding me of Americana pastime activities like riding in muscle cars, drinking sweet tea and moonshine, swimming in the lake with your dog, or spitting sunflower seeds at baseball games — these are classic muses. Walking in, I immediately graduate to a serene state as the smells of calming incense root deep into my pores. There are thousands of flash art [IMAGE]examples covering every inch of the lobby. Brave parties can peruse the flash for courage to choose larger body pieces or more intricate detailing. Each Tattooist takes their craft seriously and you can expect a small stack of paperwork involved in the contract to add their art to your skin. If you are under 18 years old or curious about body piercing this is not the street shop for you, because they don’t deal with either. [IMAGE]

There is no one specific type of client because tattoos emblazon the bodies of grandparents and school teachers alike. Tattoos are created in unison with each artist and everyone has their own strengths; some specialize in post-operative reconstruction, specific styling such as Celtic knotting, or cleaning up past mistakes. Should you have suffered an unfortunate Britney Spears moment or two in your life, the artists at 7th Street Tattoo are happy to work with you to correct those prior embarrassments. They’ll change your last girlfriend’s name into the fire breathing dragon you secretly suspected was synonymous.

Among the resident artists each work in their own domain yet as a cohesive family unit. Daniel specializes in large Asian style arts, with most of his pieces covering full body or multi-day projects. He is eager to talk about his passion for marksmanship and Buddhist inspirations. Jesse is the newest addition to their tattooing family with a knack for lettering. There is not much Jers can’t tattoo, and when he’s not in the shop he can be found fishing or telling tales of fishing, whichever is more successful. Pete specializes in traditional tattoos and can be counted on to lighten the mood whenever the incense burns down. Watch out for his 1940s Knucklehead motorcycle around town and say hello. Each artist at 7th Street Tattoo has a common love of motorcycles and participates in events such as the annual Full Tilt Boogie Chopper show July 12th at Tavern on the Avenue in St. Paul.

7th Street Tattoo is located at 1171 West 7th Street, St. Paul. They are open seven days a week from noon to 7 p.m. Call to set up an appointment: 651-292-8228.

Nicole DeGuzman, our Arts Correspondent, is an arts and culture reporter who has worked for more than fifteen years in art, history, and science museums.

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Insty-Prints Starting a New Era [IMAGE]

by Jerry Rothstein

Michelle Bastian and Jim Elm have been partners since 1991 in the Insty-Prints franchise that has been at 2365 West Seventh. They are now opening a new and expanded shop at 1396 West Seventh, and reflected about their business and its history.

Jim went to work for Insty-Prints founder Frank Schochet in 1980 as a floating manager — there were 21 locations in the Twin Cities at the time. Schochet was the first to conceive of the quick print model and expanded worldwide to places as diverse as Bangkok and Jerusalem. By 1991, when Michelle came to work as a graphic design and layout person, Jim was the site’s shop manager. In 1997 the opportunity to buy the franchise arose, and Jim and Michelle formed a partnership and took over.

Business was booming in those days. The partners worked long hours and had four employees in the shop. They remember having to turn down work because they had so much work that they couldn’t guarantee the new customer’s deadline. But since then there has been a gradual decline, and it is fascinating to get some insight into the complex interrelated factors that bring success or failure to small businesses.

In the case of printing, the emergence of the internet and web-based businesses created one source of pressure; economic bubbles and crashes hurt small business badly; rising costs of equipment, supplies, postage etc. are always a factor; and emergent technology such as high-speed color laser printers allowed many businesses to bring their printing “in house” by leasing equipment from the very companies that were supplying Insty. The decline of home-based second businesses also hurt Insty — at one time there were 200 such enterprises within five miles of the shop, many of them customers.

With that grim business story, why did Michelle and Jim decide to invest in a new building and expand their business at this point? (Their lease on the shop was ending and could not be renewed.) They had noticed a bounce upward since the last half of 2013, and their long established customers were supporting them and wanting them to continue. They wanted to keep working for themselves and have a deep appreciation for the art of printing.

So when a space came along that had the potential they decided to make the commitment. Following their concern to support local business and their own customers, they have worked with architect Jim Glendening, general contractors Goodwin Construction, and Greg Rolseth’s Roofing Solutions.

The expansion allows them to separate the retail and digital production area from the offset printing and bindery operations, thus reducing the noise for staff and customers alike.

As all the work is on time as of mid-June, they expect a seamless transition for the July 1 opening.

Insty-Prints Printing & Digital Services, 1396 West 7th, 651-690-4462;; Hours: Mon-Thu 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Fri 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

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Pearson’s is Confectious[IMAGE]

by Wendy Underwood

Walking through Pearson’s Candy during a private tour recently I experienced all those things I anticipated — amazing aromas, awe at the volume and speed of candy production (3,000 mints per minute!), and non-stop snack temptation. Two things I did not expect had to do with the people I met.

The first surprise was our tour guide, who also happened to be Michael Keller, Pearson’s CEO. One would assume the CEO of a company that has grown an estimated 50% in the last two and half years would be too busy to take four silent-auction winners and one volunteer reporter on a plant tour, but it was easy to see why Keller was up for the task. His energy and passion for his company and its products are, in a word, confectious. Originally from New Jersey, Keller joined the Pearson’s family in 2011. When asked what he has enjoyed learning in his new role, Keller spoke immediately about the relationship between Pearson’s, its customers, and its community. “The connection between our customers and our community is very strong, it’s very positive,” Keller shared. “It has a very good energy or vibe around it.”

The second surprise that I loved and didn’t expect to see was so many West End people among the staff. People representing a wide variety of backgrounds, diversities, and ages that make our neighborhood strong worked on the production floor together as engineers, line production, quality control, and health and safety teams. When I asked Keller what it takes to work for Pearson’s, he said overall he looks for good, smart people willing to work in a fast environment who are good collaborators.

Possibly the most interesting team — and the reason for my tour — was the group leading the newest member of the Pearson’s family, Bit-O-Honey chews. Machines as much as 50 years old churned and stretched a gooey concoction in a very short amount of time, creating bite-sized pieces of taffy. “It’s hard to beat the taste,” said Keller. “A little bit of honey, a little bit of almond and a lot of taste of caramel in a taffy — that doesn’t sound like a bad product. We’re very excited.”

Acquired from Nestlé in 2013, the new product line increased Pearson’s plant staff by 40 new full-time jobs, moving the total from 160 to 200 employees. “Growing the plant staff by nearly 33% is a very good feeling,” shared Keller. “It’s about making a real difference in the community.”

Knowing the rich history some Pearson’s products have in households around the country, I asked Keller about Pearson’s potential growth as a tourist destination. Providing facility tours is difficult, Keller explained, because of food and team safety. When asked about a gift shop, Keller shared his team’s intent to go digital in the near future, selling products, memorabilia, and other gear online.
What can we expect to see from Pearson’s in the future? “To have been here for more than 105 years, that’s a pretty big deal,” said Keller. “That gives you a platform for growth, that growth leads to job creation, that growth leads to good things happening in the community, that leads to fun right here in the neighborhood.” All I could say is — yum!

For more of the taste of Pearson’s, see

Wendy Underwood is a neighbor and avid fan of the West End. She served the City of St. Paul as Government Affairs Director, and now works for Target Corporation.

Business Update: Summit Brewing in Growth Mode [IMAGE]

by Jerry Rothstein

In the two plus years since marking its 25th anniversary (see Community Reporter, September 2011), the West End’s Summit Brewing Company has done anything but stand still. Community Reporter spoke with founder and president Mark Stutrud to catch up. His first remark was that 2013 has been an intense year of growth, fulfilling plans that were being developed in 2011.

At the Crosby Lake Business Center site, construction began in 1997 and operations started at the end of 1998, with a capacity of 120,000 barrels per year. The master plan for the present expansion led to construction of the new production area beginning in November 2012 and opening in September 2013. As a result, the brewery’s production capacity doubled to 240,000 barrels per year with room to expand to 360,000 barrels per year on site.

In the original tank room, Summit has 24 two-brew fermentation vessels, while the new room contains 12 four-brew vessels with the same total capacity. All processes are fully automated for pumping and transferring product and cleaning the tanks, with sophisticated control systems. Summit’s policy is to buy locally, then statewide, then the U.S. and only to go to foreign manufacturers when there is no comparable closer alternative. So the new tanks are from St. Cloud, piping from St. Paul; valves and matrixes from Minneapolis. Another benefit of the new capacity is that the brewer’s yeast byproduct will be marketable.

[IMAGE]Just as the building was completed, Summit was offered an unexpected opportunity to purchase the former home of Twin City Tile and Marble, which sits on three plus acres on the adjacent property to the east. A 44,000 square foot facility with the potential to meet many present and future needs of the brewery, it seemed like the answer to questions that were only just being thought about.

After closing on the purchase in October, work began to renovate and organize the new space, which will serve as the shipping and receiving center; staff training space; staff break rooms; administration, sales and marketing offices; and eliminate the need for off-site storage. Perhaps the most exciting decision is to install a $2 million canning line — a perfect example of the kind of thinking needed in a major business. The familiar Summit bottled beers will certainly continue, but there are only two manufacturers of those bottles, leaving Summit open to significant risk if supplies are disrupted. The canning equipment is manufactured in Wisconsin and Ohio and will be connected by pipeline to the brewery and open in the spring of 2014.

Other significant challenges and successes marked 2013. It was a year of recognition for the company and its products. The Minnesota Restaurant Association honored Summit as the “Allied Vendor of the Year,” and the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce named Summit one of three recipients of the Keystone Award, which honors companies that donate at least 2% of pretax earnings back to local community activities. The new year-round brew called Summit Saga attracted several awards, including best new beer from the Star Tribune, and India Pale Ale won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival.

[IMAGE]Summit’s taproom has been opened for about a year and its new hours are 4 to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. This popular locale could do well with longer hours and more days open, but Mark is committed to the wide variety of community business, professional and nonprofit groups that use the space for meetings at no cost (and often with free beer). “It is an integral part of our neighborhood and Twin Cities presence,” he says.

Complex negotiations with the state Legislature over proposals to raise excise taxes on beer by 600% took up more than four month’s of Mark’s time. With the industry already paying 8.5% to state and federal coffers, it was able to prevent increases for now, but Mark expects that similar ideas will be introduced again in future legislative sessions.

Summit brewing was instrumental and pioneered in creating the craft brewing industry in Minnesota and the U.S. The “beer culture” that has emerged over the last decades has also paralleled Summit’s growth and success. The company is deeply involved in the Master Brewers’ Association efforts to elevate the overall quality and share a common vision for the industry. Mark recalls that when Summit began, Stroh’s and the Schmidt Brewery were generous in their support and practical assistance. Successful brewers today want to do no less and the range and quality of beers now available speaks to the success of that goal.

Summit Brewing Company, 910 Montreal Circle, St Paul. Tap Room open Friday and Saturday, 4 to 9 p.m. Information at 651-265-7800 or see

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Dillon-Noyes Offers Quality Furniture [IMAGE]

by Wendy Underwood
Business Correspondent

The southeast corner of West Seventh and Western received a facelift recently to support the home of Dillon-Noyes, St. Paul’s newest consignment furniture store. The Jumbo Wash Laundromat’s (606 West Seventh) space was divided, and it has the eastern half with new equipment and décor.

Owner Larry Dillon worked with the building’s owner to renovate a portion of the former home of Jerontosky’s historic grocery, and has created a warm and inviting location for Dillon’s furniture collection. Cement floors are now covered in thick carpets, and beautiful windows bring light into the once boarded-up brick house at the back, along Western. The work has produced a surprisingly large display space.

Like many new business owners in the neighborhood, West Seventh was a coming-home experience for Dillon. Having lived in the Lauer Flats in the 1990s, Dillon was excited by all that is “up and coming, all the recent openings. I had been looking in St. Paul and this was a great fit.” Dillon brings a long career in furniture and home design, having worked for Room & Board before his 20-year career with Traditions Classic Home Furnishings. Dillon decided to go out on his own and bring his knowledge and relationships in retail to the new neighborhood store. His furniture pieces are all owner consignment in beautiful quality and richness.

Dillon-Noyes opened its doors early in October for its initial “soft” opening. Watch for a formal event and new signage soon.
Dillon-Noyes, 608 West Seventh, 651-222-6077. Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday noon to 4 p.m.

Wendy Underwood is a neighbor and avid fan of the West End. She served the City of Saint Paul as Government Affairs Director, and now works for Target Corporation.

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The Burn Unit: Coffee Ward [IMAGE]


As news of the closing of The Mad Hatter Coffee Café and Teahouse spread through the neighborhood the most common reaction was “What will we do?”

Now we have the answer, as Christina Graham Ziton has opened The Burn Unit: Coffee Ward with the simple goals of meeting the need for a gathering place with good coffee and tea (from J&S Roasters and Tea Source) in the West Seventh/Randolph area. She also plans to serve Kava, the Hawaiian herbal product that is blended with different herbs and spices to create a relaxing drink.

[IMAGE]Christina is an artist who has studied graphic design, interactive media and photography at Hamline University, Minnesota College of Art and Design, and Art Institute International Minnesota. Her work ranges from collage to photography to abstract graphics. She has also been an antique dealer and e-Bay seller, and her experience has provided ideas for The Burn Unit’s retro and vintage furnishings and art work. Some of the pieces will be for sale (and may go fast, as they include some classics) and the shop is likely to be changing its “look” quite regularly. Plans for regular exhibits, readings and music are in the works.

As a barista in many coffee shops, Christina quickly saw the opportunity for this location, with the Schmidt Brewery Artists’ Lofts about to come on stream, bringing hundreds of new residents to the neighborhood. She herself lives right around the corner.

The Burn Unit serves custom-made coffee drinks, teas of all kinds and Kava, and breakfast and lunch menus are developing and will include freshly made waffles served all day. Home made baked goods will be provided by Fran Gray, retired manager of The Mad Hatter. Free wi-fi and workspaces make it a good spot to stop a while, and “People will leave here happy,” Christina says with a smile.

The Burn Unit, 945 West Seventh, 651-387-0411. Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Closed Monday.

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West Seventh Barbers [IMAGE]

Keith Hall has been a licensed barber for thirty years, and is now offering his services at 2509 West Seventh in Sibley Plaza.

Keith’s original training was back east, where 1200 hours of school are required. When he relocated to Minnesota, he had to add the 300 hours required to bring up to our standards.

Keith has two active associates, Arthur Harrison and Kevin Louis. When they were looking for a location they talked with people in the neighborhood and realized this could be one of the best.

A local customer, who had been growing his hair for the last eight months, had come in to get a clean start. Keith went to work, and the results were fabulous.

west seventh barbers. Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10am-6pm (and by appointment). Closed Sunday and Monday, 612-396-8186.

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Airborn Disc Golf Emporium [IMAGE]

Cale Leiviska is the fifth ranked disc golf competitor in the world (he has competed in nine countries), and has opened the Airborn Disc Golf Emporium (Airborn) in Sibley Plaza. Cale is also part owner of prodigy Disc Company, which has already released twelve models.
Airborn is a one of a kind pro shop that offers a diverse selection of disc golf supply as well as instructional training tools to improve any player’s game. The pro shop also has both competitive and recreational weekly leagues and provides course design and implementation services. Airborn is currently working with St. Paul schools to help get discs in kids’ hands.

Disc golf is a rapidly growing sport with an estimated five million players worldwide. There are 3,000 course in the United States and another 1,000 around the world, but these numbers a rising “exponentially,” Cale says.

The principles of the game parallel golf, with the goal of completing the course in the fewest number of tosses. Disc design and technology have created better grip and better distance and accuracy. Life golf clubs, there are different discs for different jobs — driving, shorter shots, even “putting.”

The sport is cheaper and less time-consuming than regular golf — some courses are free, others pay-to-play at very low rates — and is an excellent way to build health and wellness through exercise. Locally, there is a nine-hole course (free) in Highland Park (corner of Montreal and Hamline) and an 18-hole pay-to-play at the Fort Snelling Golf Course.

Located at 2493 West Seventh. Hours:11am–7pm Mon-Tue, Thu-Fri, and 10am-6pm Sat. Info: 651-348-8740 or see their Facebook page at

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Seventh Street Social; A New Neighborhood Gathering Place  [IMAGE]

by Jerry Rothstein

Brian Glancy coordinated a project with hundreds of separate elements that all needed to be integrated and completed on time to meet his late September target for opening his new restaurant and gathering place, Seventh Street Social.

His goal is to provide well-executed comfort food of high quality, with a lively bar serving local beers and hand-crafted cocktails, where anyone can feel comfortable and find something they like on the menu. All menu items are made from scratch in the open kitchen at the back of the main room (also containing the bar) — a feature that brings customers closer to the team that is working to please them. In order to assure value in every aspect of the customer’s experience, much thought has gone into creating the right atmosphere, best food and the most consistent service.

Brian has hired well-known restaurant consultant Tobie Neditz to help with menu development and staff training. Tobie’s approach provides a “robust” training, in which staff will know all about both the food and drink they serve and the dynamics of providing “subtle” service. That is the fine line between too much guidance and interference and none at all.

“I know what I’m up against,” Brian says, in referring to the challenges of starting a new restaurant with no previous experience in the industry. “Everyone who works here has to contribute to our goals.” He plans to be present and involved in the day-to-day operation, learning more about every aspect of the business.

[IMAGE]Brian’s background has been in banking and finance. Seventh Street Social is a vision for him — of a place to be comfortable and well-treated. He and his business partner David Perkins purchased the property and have a long-term commitment.

Key elements of the team he is building include an Assistant General manager with much restaurant experience, and a Chef with similar credentials. They are involved, with Brian and Tobie, in creating the main and dessert menus and stocking the bar.

To allow for a real period of staff development, the September opening will begin with dinner service from 4 p.m. to midnight. Lunch and weekend brunch will be streamed in when all systems are ready.

Brian prides himself on being an “opportunity thinker,” meaning that he approaches obstacles, complaints and challenges as opportunities to learn and improve. He is excited to begin, and to make his new restaurant the best it can be.

Seventh Street Social, 2176 West Seventh. For information see or

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Patricia’s Salon

by Jerry Rothstein

Patricia Leonard is a stylist and much more. She offers facials, pedicures and manicures, facial waxing and in-chair massage. Her work has emerged from years of study and training in Reiki, Qigong, myofascial release and other forms of energy work, which she intuitively blends to offer each client the right mix.

Patricia has been at her Randolph Avenue salon for fourteen years: from 1999 to 2006 working with the previous owner, and since then on her own as sole proprietor. As you enter her space, a subtle sense of calm and peacefulness is evident — because she has paid attention to the feng shui of the place, Patricia says.

She grew up cutting her mom’s hair — just took to it naturally. In high school and college she focused on her creative side, studying a lot of art history, dance and singing, and went on to earn about hair styling, cosmetics and skin care, facial massage, aromatherapy and energy work, as well as formal massage training. Her interest is to go far beyond haircutting to work holistically for the health of her clients. She sees many approaches to healing.

Patricia was cutting Peg’s hair during the interview. Peg first met Patricia when bringing a friend, who was dying of cancer, in for a haircut. Her friend came out feeling refreshed and energized, and Peg has been coming ever since.

Patricia often takes her skills to people at home or in hospital or nursing care. She says that she gets a lot of emotional support from the people she works with — many become friends. “I have met a lot of great people through the work,” she adds.

Patricia’s Salon, 893 Randolph Avenue, 651-222-2714 or

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Books ‘n Tea (Coffee and Cocoa Too) [IMAGE]

by Jerry Rothstein

Keith Hammond’s new Books ’n Tea on Randolph is already attracting neighborhood attention since it opened quietly last month. May Zanmiller of Watson Avenue came in for the first time because her friend Juliet Branca is a tea drinker. For 26 years these friends have been meeting at various spots for tea or coffee and talk, and Juliet had asked Mary to find a new place. “I was intrigued by the book angle—a place with books to meet,” Mary said.

The story of how Books ’n Tea came to the West End can’t be separated from Keith Hammond’s life journey, which includes authorship of dozens of books as well as a path to pastorship and the establishment of a new church.

He started in Chicago, studied broadcast communications and computer science at MSTA Business College, and journalism at Chicago State. He came to Minnesota in 1991, and in 1993 he began writing for the Spokesman-Recorder, and his wife Annie began working for Head Start, a position she still holds 19 years later. They alternated day and night work so that one would always be home with daughters Rochelle and Kisha, both of whom now spend time working at Books ’n Tea.

In 1993, Keith did a story about a local Minneapolis pastor, who became the greatest influence on his life — Pastor Arthur Agnew of Bethesda Baptist Church. When Annie attended a three-day revival meeting there, Keith could not bring himself to attend — yet that experience opened him to his long-standing grief over his parents’ death and other deep issues from which he saw he had been running. Pastor Agnew listened, and encouraged Keith to join the church. Not only did he join, but also he became a trusted “right hand” to the Pastor, and served there the next ten years. As an adult Sunday School teacher, he challenged the congregation to take their study of evangelism into the real world and find ways to do outreach in the community.

In 2003, motivated by this experience, he wrote his first book, Church on Sunday, Nothing on Monday: An Evangelism Manual. Many other books followed, and at the same time Keith started seminary at Bethel, moving to United Theological Seminary and then Logos Theological Seminary, and will complete his doctorate in church leadership within the year. So far he has written 82 books, the most recent of which, Success After Setback, launches soon. His books were accepted as satisfying the dissertation requirement for his degree.

Keith has taken ten years to write and edit his books, which are the foundation for his Lessons for Life Books, Inc. When the integrated series was complete, he began to place them in libraries where the public could have free access to them.

The publishing company also did market research to see how distribution could be improved, and the potential for a “books and tea” connection was confirmed. “The shops are also my way of giving other authors a way to be heard.” He plans to open locations on Grand Avenue, in the Longfellow neighborhood, downtown Minneapolis, East Lake Street and finally the Mall of America. Keith will expand into the entire lower floor of the building, allowing him to host local book clubs, book readings and signings by poets and prose writers, group meetings and other promotions. The Books ’n Tea brand, which offers high quality tea and an all-natural sweetener called Honey Pearls, is just being launched. What is unique about the store is curb service for coffee and tea lovers in a hurry — from 6 to 9 a.m., and also a Plug ’N Print service for anyone needing access to a laptop and printer on the fly.

Finally, Keith has registered and launched the Gospel and Grace Christian Church to house his pastorship. He wants to open in an area of high need, and is considering East St. Paul, North Minneapolis, and the West End neighborhoods centered on Sibley Manor.

Books ’n Tea, 895 Randolph, 651-224-6323. Hours: Mon-Fri 6am-6pm, Sat 10am-6pm.

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Unique Treasures Come to West Seventh [IMAGE]


Katheryn (Kat) Menaged has quietly opened the shop she has dreamed about, planned and prepared for many years. Her idea for Scarborough Fair is to be a fairy tale experience for women, which will evoke their best and most romantic memories. The clothing lines are newly made and vintage styled, with a small selection by Kat of gently used garments that have something special about them.
In addition to clothing and accessories (hats, scarves, belts, many locally crafted) the shop features an eclectic and ever-changing collection of antique or artisan-crafted home furnishings and accessories, as well as unique antique pieces Kat has found in her travels.
Working with two artists — a collage maker and one who works in polymer clay — Kat is creating a sacred corner “that celebrates the feminine divine,” to offer a special spot for contemplation and renewal.

In her career, Kat has been a designer, manufacturer and wholesaler of ladies’ accessories who realized along the way that a shop of her own would allow her great freedom to explore her clients’ needs outside the usual range of products.

She was attracted to the West End partly because “my clients are looking for something different,” and this neighborhood is on the verge of great expansion. She mentions the Brewery development and local shops like her neighbor The Bearded Mermaid, with which she feels very compatible. When a great and affordable space appeared, she grabbed it.

Scarborough Fair, 961 West Seventh, 651-224-4182 or Summer hours are Thursday through Sunday, noon to 7 p.m.

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A Sharp Demonstration [IMAGE]


Alex Tuan grew up in the West End, attended St. Paul Academy, and just finished his first year at Colby College in Maine. He’s the son of Community Reporter layout and graphic designer, In-Fin Tuan. Alex is looking at Economics as a possible major, but also plans to complete pre-med requirement to leave the medical school option open.

This summer, his “economic” life is extensive, as he is working jobs in landscaping and lifeguarding and acting as a sales agent for Cutco Cutlery, established in 1959 and manufacturers in the United States only, of a line of high quality kitchen knives and accessories.
Alex provided the writer with a complete presentation about Cutco’s products, which included an in-depth look at the science of creating a superior knife. While Cutco does marketing through media like The Food Channel, most of its sales come through registered agents like Alex, who meet with potential customers, explain all facets of knife-making and use, and demonstrate on foods that everyone who cooks has had trouble cutting.

Cutco’s knives are made of high carbon stainless steel, thermal resin for handles, and nickel silver rivets. The knives stay sharp and come with various guarantees.

Alex’s demonstration is educational and enjoyable. To reach him for an appointment call 1-402-332-7187 or e-mail

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A Boutique for Moms-to-Be


Angie Hanson is a St. Paul native who grew up on Randolph and has explored the entire city. While she was pregnant with her second child, she realized that she needed to find a source of good-quality, reasonably-priced, maternity wear. She found the original bellies to babies in Richfield and met the owner, Crystal Pollard, who had created the business five years earlier. Crystal was thinking about offering licensing agreements for others to work with her business model.

A few months after the birth of her second child, Angie reconnected with Crystal and became the first bellies to babies licensee. Unlike a franchise, a licensing agreement allows Angie freedom to set up her shop as she wants it, while sharing the name, logo and marketing costs.
Angie has put together a large collection of attractive, stylish and affordable “gently used” maternity clothing and apparel for newborns to toddlers (size 2T). And her prices are up to 75% below retail. Since bellies to babies buys and sells, new mothers can avoid holding on to their no-longer-needed clothing while helping to pay for baby clothes.

Angie plans to carry related accessories, such as all-natural lotions and balms, as well as “new and local” clothing produced by local artisans.

bellies to babies: gently stretched clothing for mama and the baby-to-be is located at 965 West Seventh, 651-224-BUMP. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Never Alone Fitness [IMAGE]

BY Jerry Rothstein

Walker Lee Ashley says right off that he is excited to join the West Seventh community. At Penn State his degree was in Community Development and, in one way or another, that has always been a part of his work.

His client-centered personal training, exercise and nutrition services include spin, Zumba® and yoga, kick boxing and core training, started off on Payne Avenue, and moving to his own space on West Seventh has allowed his to design the space he really wanted.

In later studies, after an eight-year stint in the NFL, Walker earned his certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, which entitles him to assess, design individual programming to help people meet their fitness goals, and carry through with training.

Assessment includes health and exercise histories, injuries old and recent, and consideration of the client’s exercise preferences.
Walker worked for many years as director at a community recreation center and as a group fitness instructor and personal trainer at a fitness center. He thought about having his own center, where each person he worked with would have support in all dimensions — never alone. After working from home for several months he found affordable space and opened on Payne Avenue.

By the time that building was sold, his clientele had grown, and after looking literally all over town, he found a perfect space here that is within his budget.

He appreciates the chance to work one-on-one and see people’s progress and their goals met, and is a strong believer that this work has broader value in life in general. Fitness for him is about facing challenges — set by yourself — and finding ways to move out of your comfort zone and meet your goals.

Walker’s early education in community development has traveled with him. He loves working with people of all ages, having an impact on their lives, and making a positive difference in the community.

An Open House is schedule for May 11, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with demonstrations of all the Never Alone Fitness programs, drawings for gifts and refreshments. Children welcome — kids’ yoga demonstration.

NEVER ALONE FITNESS, 1178 West Seventh, 651-353-2014 or

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Premier Image Barber Shop [IMAGE]

Nile House describes himself as “an old-school barber.” He studied at the Moler Barber School in Minneapolis, where completion of a 1500 hour course is required to qualify for a license. After twelve years of experience, including a big shop on South Robert, he has come to the West End with hopes for both a thriving business and an active involvement in the community. When his Robert Street shop closed, his regulars urged him to find a new spot and reopen, and his wife spotted this former barber shop space on West Seventh.

Nile’s skills go way back. When he was growing up his mother bought a pair of clippers and he started trying them out. He had a natural talent and today works with all kinds of hair and styling, including designs, fades, tapers and razor shaves — and hot shaves as well.

Nile aims for “a real barbershop” that is open to socializing, where quality is the expectation.

PREMIER IMAGE BARBER SHOP, 1128 West Seventh: 952-688-8131.

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Moms on the Run [IMAGE]

Katie Keenan teaches ESL in K-3 at a public school in Spring Lake Park near Blaine. With three young daughters, she wanted to find an activity she could do with them, and after a stint as a program coach, decided to buy a Moms on the Run franchise of her own.

Katie has been a runner since junior high, and trains for 5K runs and marathons these days. She has always had an interest in fitness and community health, studying community health education at St. Thomas and ESL at Hamline.

The program involves women of all ages, and aims for fitness, fun and friendship — a real sense of family develops among the participants. As Katie says, “Moms are always on the run,” and fitting in exercise, nutrition and strength training elements with family activity is a happy situation.

Scholarships are available, and a portion of the profits is donated to Feed My Starving Children.

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Take a Look at Eyes All Over

By Jerry Rothstein

In her ten years as an optician, Teri Focht, ABOC (meaning certified by the American Board of Opticianry) has “done it all,” working for retail chains, managing the Vision World at Southdale, grinding lenses and operating the laser machine for ophthalmologists doing refractive surgery.

photo: Teri Focht & her son Adrian

When she decided to open her own practice, her vision included offering “private practice service and quality at prices that everyone can afford.” To that end, she has put together a network of resources. Her eye examinations are done by Dr. Matthew Bauer at Open Cities health Center, a nonprofit community health resource. Lenses are ground at two family-owned labs where she can deal directly with the lab owners.

Eyes All Over is also offering a mobile optical service, by appointment, to support those who have difficulty getting out for various reasons. Customers can arrange for visits at home or work, in hospital, assisted living or group home environments. Teri brings a large sampling of frames as well as fitting tools and information. She can adjust and repair existing eyeglasses as well as fitting and dispensing new ones.

A new service, coming in May, offers “customizable frames.” This allows the customer to work with many variables to arrive at the frame best suited to them. Instead of everything being predetermined, choices abound in shapes, sizes, temple style and shape, nose piece style, color and frame thickness. In addition, a logo, name or graphic design can be lasered onto the sidepieces of the glasses.
Creative options, concern for the customer and happy to be starting in the West End, Teri Focht and her Eyes All Over are a positive addition to the community.

Eyes All Over, 526 West Seventh, 651-333-4420 or
Hours: Mon-Thu 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Fri 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Grand Opening all day April 6.

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New Skylark Plant Wins Major National Award [IMAGE]
American Dry Cleaner Magazine recently named Skylark the best new dry cleaning Plant-On-Premises in the United States for 2012. The magazine cited several unique aspects of Skylark’s new store, including a 24-hour locker kiosk and multiple green cleaning systems (Liquid CO2, GreenEarth, and Professional Wet Cleaning). The new Skylark store at 1530 West Seventh was completed a year ago — Skylark had previously operated a production facility in Chanhassen and moved all of this equipment to the new West Seventh space. A link to the award article is at You are invited to drop by for a tour of the plant.

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A MOD Presence in old Neighborhood [IMAGE]

In the late 1990s, Jana and Luke Soiseth worked for Yamamoto Moss, a large Minneapolis branding company — Luke on the editorial side and Jana as a designer. They imagined going out on their own and working with smaller businesses. Their boss encouraged them and advised that they diversify their practice and work with a range of clients and needs.

After a time as “Reson-8” they chose the name “Mod and Company” for the many possible links to the word “mod” and its associations. While 9/11 put a temporary halt to most of their business, they survived and started to grow by word of mouth, moving their offices several times until arriving on Dousman Street in the West End in May 2012. Early on, they worked with many restaurants; with small successes came bigger opportunities, and they worked with Calhoun Square and the Uptown Art Festival.

Earlier this year, Mod and Company responded to a request for proposals (RFP) from the Metropolitan Council, and won a two-year contract to market the businesses along the Central Corridor light rail route between downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul. The Green Line, as it is called, represents huge opportunities for creative development, and Mod’s campaign gives us a good idea of their approach (their Green Line ads have appeared in the lower-right corner of page 8 — this month, Koshiki Yonemura’s Tanpopo Restaurant). In print, billboard, bus and social media messages, Mod features the human component of the business and its products, and locates it within one of the ten neighborhood geographic districts between the two downtowns.

[IMAGE]Mod and Company benefits from the perspective of being a small business working with small businesses — they like to get to know the key people and learn how they see themselves and how they want their businesses to be seen by the community. They audit existing materials to see how they work together to present the business message, and may then create a campaign that integrates naming, branding, media choices and ways of focusing the campaign.

Mod works with a variety of people, products and services, including businesses and nonprofits such as National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Minnesota, Pizza Luce, Transit for Livable Communities and The Shops at West End. Moving to the West End has been very positive for the company. Many creative firms are located in the Minneapolis Warehouse district—they have found a great place “somewhere else” where there is breathing room. They see the West End as a “changing, vibrant neighborhood” and since moving in in May, neighbors have “welcomed us with open arms.”

The value of learning “a tiny bit about a lot of things” carries Mod and Company forward. The team consists of Jana Soiseth, creative director; Luke Soiseth, producer and editorial director; Natalie Judd, marketing coordinator; Britt Sax, art director; Seth White, senior designer and Christina LeClaire, junior designer.

Mod and Company, 159 Dousman Street, 612-238-3930,

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Outdoor adventures no matter what your ability [IMAGE]


Ben Johnson, like other innovators and entrepreneurs, decided to change his life, and the lives of others. “On a recent fishing trip with my fiancée, Kelly Bester, and her nieces, Whitney and Quincy, the idea for Fishability, Inc. was born; create a fishing and outdoor guide service fully equipped to serve people of all abilities, including those in wheelchairs.”

Ben and his crew took their maiden voyage with a former Dakota Communities client, Patrick, on August 11. As soon as he got in the boat with Ben, Pat, who has a developmental disability, visibly relaxed, and accepted the offer of a fishing rod.

Ben, who could pilot a boat before he could drive, has a special talent working with kids and adults with disabilities. “I have the training and expertise with people with disabilities and outdoor adventuring. I am not looking to get rich. I want to create a challenging, team-oriented approach to bringing the outdoors to people like my clients at Dakota — to make it a staple in the everyday lives of people who may rarely have these experiences.”

A graduate of Cretin Derham Hall and University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Ben is a passionate outdoorsman. From the time he could crawl, the woods and water have been at the center of his world. “I had a boat before a car. Fishing calms me; it’s a reward at the end of the day.” Summers, while in college, he worked with Curt Trout Muse, the legendary guide who founded Alaska Troutfitters in Cooper Landing, Alaska. Curt was a master guide and taught others the joy of fly fishing. When Curt was stricken with a debilitating disease, Ben became his paddler and assistant, so Curt could continue to share his passion with long-time friends and anglers.

“After Alaska, I returned to Minnesota and worked as a Personal Advocate, Maintenance Tech/Fabricator, and outdoor Recreation Liaison for Dakota Communities, Inc.” Dakota Communities is a nonprofit organization founded in West St. Paul in 1972. They support adults and children in their homes and communities throughout the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Therapeutic recreation services are also offered in partnership with groups like Wilderness Inquiry.

Toni O’Brien, Director of Community Life in the Division of Therapeutic Recreation Services at Dakota, hired Ben in 2006. “In walks this young man who had just gotten off a fishing boat in Alaska. The minute he started talking about what he could contribute I knew he was our man. Ben makes it his life’s goal to create opportunities for people, regardless of their abilities.”

Ben was all smiles on the St. Croix River trip with Pat and his family. “Fishability, Inc. is a real grass-roots effort. People just came to me, friends, family, people who heard about what I was doing.”

This St Paul native and West Seventh resident is definitely on a journey he began at a young age. If you drive down Chatsworth, you might just see Ben, and a buddy or two, out in the side yard, working on boats, installing Sure-Lok ratchet straps for wheel chairs, or taking stock of donated inventory. As Ben says, “Feel free to stop by and say hello.”

To contact Ben, send him an e-mail at You can also visit their Facebook page at

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Animal Emergency Care Center Opens[IMAGE]


On June 28, without fanfare, the Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota opened its West Seventh branch (the other is in Oakdale). Operating each weekday from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. and on weekends and holidays 24/7, the Center provides pet owners with seamless care in emergent situations, always in close liaison with the family veterinarian.

In 1980, a group of about 17 East Metro veterinarians came together to develop a new organization that would provide urgent and emergency care. The individual vets had been on call for their own patients, and sometimes covered for each other in small ways, but the burden of essentially being available 24 hours a day, every day, was not the best situation. As well, the special resources necessary to support high quality emergency care were not easily available.

After a successful decade at their first University Avenue location, an expanded facility was built (also on University Ave.) in 1991 and, in 2000, space in Oakdale was rented for a second center. In 2010, a new clinic was built for the Oakdale Center, while planning to replace and relocate the University Ave. Center had been in the works for a few years (well before light rail construction became an issue). West Seventh was chosen for the new center as an up and coming neighborhood with excellent access from all parts of the East Metro.

Thirty-five practices have invested in the West Seventh Center, but the Center has its own staff and administration, shared with Oakdale. Each shift has a veterinarian and support staff, which might include Certified Veterinary Technicians (CVT), Technician Assistants and client service staff. Weekends and holidays are generally busier than weekday nights, and staffing is adjusted to meet the need.
It is possible for a CVT to take advanced training and testing and earn specialist certificates. The AERC team includes specialists in emergency and critical care and in pain management. Other specialties are being pursued by some staff in anesthesia and in internal medicine.

Veterinarians can also specialize. AERC’s Board Certified specialists in surgery and in critical care are based at the Oakdale Center but are available when needed at West Seventh.

Oakdale is a 24/7 center that also serves as a potential transfer site for pets admitted to West Seventh during the night but not ready to go home by morning. A complex process of decision making among AERC staff, the family vet and the family members is often needed in such situations.

The new center has been designed with the benefit of two years’ experience at Oakdale, so while the basic model is the same and will be easy for staff to adjust to, the opportunity to make some improvements was welcomed.

Since the Center is meant to be an extension of the family vet’s practice, with special types of care, elaborate provisions have been made for all likely situations. These include a comfortable intake and waiting room, with cable TV and a refreshment area. The heart of the Center is its central intensive care room, surrounded by the surgery; imaging that includes digital x-ray and ultrasound; full laboratory and pharmacy resources; isolation cages in a separately ventilated room; food preparation and laundry areas. There are separate rooms for dogs and cats for after-treatment care. Online communication for the two centers allows for scheduling, requests for specialists and transfer arrangements.

AERC staff is highly sensitive to the owners’ stress, anxiety and need for support in emergency situations with their pets. A special comfort room provides a quiet, comfortable place for owners to use when there’s a longer, more complex care process, or when “life decisions” have to be made. Staff spends a lot of time giving information and support for decision making about where the pet will be placed during the course of its treatment, and support especially for when the pet’s condition is life-threatening and “final care” may be called for. Sensitivity to the grief that accompanies the loss of a pet is part of the staff’s high level of people focus.

AERC may see as many as 9,000 individual animals in the course of a year (both locations). They provide an essential resource for continuity of care, and are passionate about their work and the relationships they form with their animal and human clients.

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota: 1542 West Seventh, 651-293-1800. Hours: Mon-Thurs 6pm-8am, Fri 6pm-Mon 8am.

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A New Look at Extended Exposure [IMAGE]

by Jerry Rothstein

Walking into the new headquarters of Extended Exposure (Customized Gifts and Promotional Products) at 1086 West Seventh, you enter a beehive of activity. The eight staff people are in constant motion, giving the impression that twice that number are working there. The company is making great use of the two-level space that also includes a large loading/storage area where boats once came in for repair.

Jamie Flynn started with the idea of selling custom photo albums to National Parks while working as a waitress in Glacier National Park in 1988. Extended Exposure started in 1999, with the first order being sold to Glacier. The idea being a photo album with the Park’s logo on the cover would be attractive for tourists, who spend so much time taking “memories” that often end up in shoe boxes. The custom albums are now available for many national and state parks and resorts, and Extended Exposure’s main mission involves products that help to preserve great experiences for people, and to keep those places and merchants in their minds.

Currently products range from clothing (T-shirts, sweats) to souvenir items (bags, mugs and bottles, pens, key chains, caps and visors) to special collections — a cruise line, for example, might offer a beach outing bag containing sunscreen, lotion, water bottle and sun visor.

Of course, the secret to making these things more than things is the imprinting — logos, names and creative graphics that help unify the experience and remain important to people after they get home.

The company’s key customers are the parks and resorts, travel agents and event planners, small and large gift shops and small businesses. Special opportunities are powerful, and Extended Exposure started the bidding process in 2006 for the U. S. Olympic Team’s products for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games. They were successful then, and now with the 2012 Summer Games in London they are an official licensee.

In her search for new space, Jamie found that she really liked the West Seventh community—she is negotiating to purchase the property, partly because she believes “it’s important to be able to grow roots where you are.”

Settling in, Jamie and her team are looking to work on company infrastructure and processes, and to continue their strategic marketing services, which help businesses identify potential customers and strategies. She is planning to add sales staff soon.

Extended Exposure, 1086 West Seventh, 651-698-3333,

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Dave's Shoe & Leather Repair [IMAGE]

by Jerry Rothstein

Shawn Hewitt has been in shoe and leather repair work for more than thirty years. He has a shop in St. Louis Park (a Dave’s) and at one time ran the Happy Feet store in Highland. Shawn’s son, Shawn Shelton, has been apprenticing with his father for almost two years and, along with ten-year veteran Jessica Cender, is now operating the West Seventh branch of Dave’s Shoe & Leather Repair.

The shop is in the triangular building just west of Day by Day Café, recently a salon and for many years before that a tattoo parlor. Jessica’s kids have attended Four Seasons, both when it was in the neighborhood and since it has moved, so she feels a solid connection to the West End—this was part of the reason for opening the shop here. Jessica also volunteers for Quilting Corners on Selby, sewing carry bags, wheelchair bags and the like.

[IMAGE]Shawn and Jessica are confident that they can repair and recondition just about any shoes or leather goods, and owner Shawn Hewitt is always available to consult on difficult jobs and to assure the quality of the work.

While the Community Reporter was talking with Jessica and Shawn, a customer came in with a special pair of leather sandals needing repair. They explained exactly what they would do to make the repair, and offered to have it ready the next day. Community Reporter was curious how this customer learned about Dave’s so soon after it opened. In a typical West Seventh response she said, “Betty Moran.”
Custom work is another aspect of their service. They can make custom shoes, leather phone cases, portfolios, money bags and shoulder bags. Repairs to leather jackets include installing new zippers — a hard-to-find service.

Dave’s Shoe & Leather Repair, 489 West Seventh, 651-224-0334. Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Cosmic Aquatics[IMAGE]

by Jerry Rothstein

Morgan Gonia has loved tropical fish from the time he had an aquarium as a boy, and he has been involved in the business of fish and coral for many years. His first part time jobs were at pet stores, where he could use his discount on the stock and equipment he needed. Although he was employed as a skilled worker in the airplane industry with Cessna, his career turned back to fish and has stayed that way.

His company, Aquascapes in Virginia Beach, Virginia, provided installation and maintenance for all sizes of aquarium, for commercial, professional and residential environments.

Later, in Superior, Wisconsin, he opened his first Cosmic Aquatics store along with an attempt to grow coral. With a website, wholesale and retail, along with the coral farm, he was well-placed. When the economics of coral farming proved too difficult Morgan closed that operation. After three years in Superior, he was offered a position with a pet company in the Metro area. He accepted and moved, but the situation proved unworkable.

Thinking about reopening Cosmic Aquatics, he met Steve Virkus while installing an aquarium for him, and as they talked Steve became interested in backing Morgan’s enterprise. They agreed to open an expanded store here, and driving down West Seventh not too long ago they saw a for rent sign on the former Final Bid location (next to Mojo Monkey Donuts). Their lease was signed within a day.

Cosmic Aquatics offers saltwater fish and many kinds of coral, aquariums and supplies, live and frozen food. For the store aquariums, Morgan has installed a sophisticated filtration system that serves all the tanks from a basement location. All the needs for both types of aquarium are available — the reef aquarium features small fish living together in relative peace, but fish aquariums may include predators and less harmony.

Morgan promotes a more natural way of managing the aquarium as a living ecosystem requiring balance. He sees many products on the market that offer quick fixes to common problems in the form of various additives. He wants owners to invest elbow grease and time into creating and maintaining the proper conditions, so he does not sell those products. Instead, he gets involved in teaching proper methods of care. He holds Reef Club meetings where owners can share ideas and information and be part of a growing community with common interests.

All his fish are certified under Marine Aquarium Council standards. At any given time, he carries 30-40 types of fish and many species of coral as well.

Cosmic Aquatics, 1165 West Seventh, 612-568-FISH.

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Crowning Achievement: Falafel King Rules West Seventh

by Jerry Rothstein[IMAGE]

Fouad Masroujeh opened his first Falafel King at Lake and Lyndale in 1982, but his expertise in offering authentic Middle Eastern cuisine originated long before that, in Jerusalem.

Early in Fouad’s life, his father died, leaving his mother with thirteen children to support. Three of the boys were placed in orphanage schools to relieve some of the pressure, Fouad going to a school in the Old City, near the Wailing Wall. But after fifth grade he wanted to find a way to help his mother and family, and left school to scrape enough money together to start a falafel and sandwich stand near the school. His former schoolmates soon started calling him the Falafel King, ironically for a twelve year old. But he knew his customers and their poverty, and would offer a quarter-pita-size sandwich that they could afford.

From then on, he was involved in food services in many contexts — at the Hebrew University, in kitchens and restaurants all over Jerusalem, and finally in Minnesota, where he started at the Sofitel Hotel, worked there for a while, and then opened his first Falafel King thirty years ago.

By 2000, when Fouad tried unsuccessfully to lease the space on West Seventh, he had operated and sold branches in Dinkytown and Cedar-Riverside and had three locations in Minneapolis. But his idea of a West End location stayed with him. He has many Jewish friends in St. Paul, and has catered weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and special events for them, and they were always asking him to come to the area.

Fouad is purchasing the property and making a long-term commitment to the West End. He is also pursuing the necessary city permits to open the long-disused drive-in window. His philosophy includes providing community support to local groups, sponsoring events and taking part in important local organizations. To that end, he has already joined the West Seventh Business Association (W7BA) and hosted a meeting of the W7BA’s Enhancement Coalition.

Falafel King offers a range of classical Middle Eastern foods prepared on the spot and notable for freshness and taste. Lamb and chicken kabobs and shawarma are featured. Their hummus and falafel have been rated best in the Twin Cities by local magazines. All their pita, breads and desserts are made in house, as well as the hummus, tahini and tangy salads.

As a family-owned business, his five children have been involved in operations while pursuing their education. Two boys are in medical school, two are studying business, and his daughter is preparing to be a CPA.

June is Falafel King’s Grand Opening Month, with a special coupon offered in this issue of the Community Reporter.
Falafel King, 1199 West Seventh, 651-207-5777; Sun-Thurs 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri-Sat 11 a.m.-3 a.m.

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Tradition Creek Outfitters Camps on West Seventh [IMAGE]


Shawn Murphy has been an outdoors person all his life, in highly different ways. As a boy scout who went on to attain the rank of Eagle Scout he loved camping and exploring. As a military officer in Afghanistan, his outdoor experience involved constant vigilance against opposition forces, roadside bombs and the unexpected in general.

In both environments, he knew the importance of having the right equipment—clothing, boots, tools and gear for the conditions he would face. He started an online company in 2008 and landed a government contract to provide a line of interpretative signs for national parks and the U.S. Forest Service. When he returned from active duty in 2011, he decided not to join the family’s insurance business. Instead, he wanted to work with his Tradition Creek concept in a new way, and began to plan for a “no nonsense outdoor store” designed and stocked for people who would appreciate good quality, traditional gear sold by people who use it themselves.

Tradition Creek Outfitters on West Seventh is the result. Shawn believes there is a market in St. Paul and sees West Seventh as “an up and coming neighborhood.” He purchased the property at 933 West Seventh and has been preparing the space ever since. The new brick façade and windows show well from the street, and the interior is a warm, interesting space with several rooms, an upper level, generally perfect for browsing. An evocative outdoor scene created by Acme Scenic Arts’ Nance Derby Davidson, Shawn’s next-door neighbor, graces the entry room, and the whole shop gives a vintage, old-store feeling. Several people have sensed this and have asked Shawn whether he’ll have a potbelly stove to sit around and chew the fat. He does want his 2200 square feet to be a Minnesota store, and will be displaying his collection of Minnesota artifacts.

In choosing how to stock the store, Shawn has tried to find products made in Minnesota or the U.S. before going to the imports. Many will be branded Tradition Creek. About 20% of his wares are made in Minnesota, including wool clothing, Red Wing boots, canoe paddles, canvas bags, soaps, Red Lake Nation foods and Cache Lake camping foods. Other U.S. products include axes from Iowa and incense from Maine.

The shop includes space that Shawn will offer to environmental and outdoor-oriented groups for meetings. At the grant opening on June 16, members of the Superior Hiking Trail Association will share information and resources about one of the state’s most impressive trails; a bluegrass band performs; and a member of the Minnesota Archaeological Society demonstrates flint knapping. Shawn hopes that people will stop in as they do their rounds on the West End neighbors Garden Tour.

Tradition Creek Outfitters, 933 West Seventh, 651-330-5735 —

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J.W. Hulme Co. Committed to Neighborhood

by Jerry Rothstein
J.W. Hulme Company, founded in 1905, is one of St. Paul’s oldest continuously operating businesses. After 107 years of expansion and contraction, product development, and building a reputation for high-quality American made goods, the company is now in an expansion mode. It has applied for a neighborhood STAR (Sales Tax Revitalization) Grant to support an imaginative job education and creation project in partnership with LifeTrack Resources and the Dunwoody College of Technology.
Photo: The J.W. Hulme sewing room.

The company began as a tent and awning manufacturer, located near Seven Corners. As World War I approached, the military contracted for tents—the hip-roof stable tent was manufactured up to 30 by 56 feet and could accommodate 14 teams. Later, circus and revival meeting tents were good sellers. After the war, canvas and leather bags supplemented tent and awning production.

In the 1970s, J.W. Hulme’s relationship with two of St. Paul’s most famous product lines began, as it manufactured bags for the Gokey Company. When Orvis Co. purchased Gokey in the 1980s, J.W. Hulme produced both the Gokey and Orvis lines of canvas and leather bags and accessories.

The company responded to the loss of Orvis contracts in 1997 by selling the awning division and transforming its product line to support a mail-order catalogue marketing effort. In 2003, present owners Jen Guarino and Chuck Bidwell took over, with a reenergized commitment to exceptional quality and the J.W. Hulme heritage, which included lifetime guarantees, dedicated customer service, and handmade U.S. craftsmanship. The current catalogue offers luggage, handbags, sporting bags, and canvas and leather accessories, and products can now be found in major national retailers such as Barney’s, Allen Edmonds and Anthropologie. Always keeping up with opportunities, one of their most popular products today is a closed leather I-Pad case that switches the I-Pad on when opened.
The impact of a major investor and marketing success over the past several years had J.W. Hulme stretching for new capacity. Instead of seeking larger premises in the many light-industrial parks around the Twin Cities, Guarino and Bidwell thought about their workers, 80% of whom live in the area. Their building had enough unused space to allow a doubling of manufacturing along with redesigned offices and a modern retail outlet. Landlord Bill Burg (whose great grandfather was a partner of the original Hulme brothers) agreed to help with financing. The idea of creating a job education center specifically for the cutting and sewing skills needed by manufacturers like J.W. Hulme started to emerge.

Photo: Among the West Enders who work at J.W. Hulme are Carmen Lutgen, Beverly Lutgen,
Bay Gregory, who will mark 25 years at J.W. Hulme this fall, and her son Scott Gregory, who is
manufacturing and process engineer and has been with the company for 12 years.

Linking with LifeTrack resources, which agreed to provide candidates and support potential grants to fund the training, and with the Dunwoody College of Technology for the development, marketing and administration of the “Industrial Sewing Certification Program,” created a powerful partnership for J.W. Hulme, which itself will provide the on-site training and internships.

As part of their research in planning the program, they have identified (to date) twenty other Twin Cities employers that need workers with these skills (broader than simply “cut and sew,” this work involves creating and managing a variety of manufacturing projects through skilled handwork).

[IMAGE]There is a movement growing for “Made in the U.S.A.” goods, and cut and sew manufacturers cannot find enough skilled labor. Job creation over the next several years could exceed one hundred high-quality positions, and J.W. Hulme itself expects to add more than twenty jobs in the next five years. With this kind of skilled labor, a Midwest garment industry may be just over the horizon.

The Neighborhood STAR grant application seeks half of the $200K costs for the facilities and equipment upgrade necessary for the training program and increase in staff to be possible, $50K as a grant and $50K as a repayable low-interest loan. The project’s trainees would be drawn from persons who are unemployed, underemployed, disenfranchised, immigrants and women, and they would be trained to “a level skill set” and be paced in good-quality jobs.

Photo: Sewing room worker Frances Speed

STAR proposals must have a sound public purpose that may include economic, commercial or residential development. In addition to its partnership with LifeTrack and Dunwoody, J.W. Hulme has shared project information with West End organizations, businesses and residents, and hosted an open house in April that provided tours of the factory and descriptions of the planned improvements.

J.W. Hulme, 678 West Seventh: 800-442-8212 or

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Community Small Business: A Touch of Andrea [IMAGE]

by Opal Nicholson Kuehn

Over the years I have been to several local beauty salons, to maintain my youthful appearance, and finally found one I love, and have been a patron for almost 15 years.

A Touch of Andrea beauty salon has relocated to 1081 West Seventh.

Andrea Burnstein is the owner/operator. This shop is a full service salon, offering hair cuts, perms, foils, colors and manicures. Most importantly, a friendly experience. My husband Bob brings me to my appointments, and always comes in with me to visit and get his hugs and a kiss.

Andrea has raised her son, lives, and works in this very community. Her parents, Gil and Joyce, live in Highland. Her mother retired from St. Joe’s, and her father currently works at the Jewish Community Center. She has a son Bradley, who is the apple of her eye.

Photo: Andrea and Opal shoot the breeze.
Credit: Jerry Rothstein

Andrea graduated from Highland Senior High 1984 and went to Horst Education Center in Minneapolis for her cosmetology training. She always knew she wanted to do hair and own her own shop. Andrea said, “When I was young I would always find the person in the room with beautiful hair that I could touch.” She set a goal and told herself “Andrea, you will have your own shop by the time you are 30.”

On January 30, 1997, Andrea opened her first shop, and two months later she turned 31 years old. I am so glad Andrea listened to herself.

Her first salon was 893 Randolph for 10 years; then she moved to 468 Osceola for 5 years; and her new location on West Seventh shares the same building as Supreme Electric. As you can see, she has operated a business in our community for more than 15 years and she plans on staying at this location for 20 more years. Her family and good friends who have helped her set up these shops gave a sigh of relief!

Many of her customers have been with her through all the years, and she will continue to serve them while looking forward to making new friends and customers.

A Touch of Andrea, 1081 West Seventh — 651-665-0716.

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Golden Chow Mein Celebrates Silver Anniversary [IMAGE]

by Jerry Rothstein

When you walk into the modest quarters of Golden Chow Mein at the corner of West Seventh and Bay, as countless people have done for twenty-five years, you are greeted with a broad smile and welcomed by Yisha Hong, who is ready to take your order and make sure that you have the meal you want.

Yisha and her husband Kwok Qu Ng are just completing their 25th year in the neighborhood of providing excellent Cantonese style food using the best ingredients, and at reasonable prices. The menu offers many choices — some of the most popular dishes are Lo Mein, sesame chicken, chicken almond ding and their varieties of Chow Mein, which is made with a special base to make it richer than the usual version.

Diners are not limited to the menu — Golden will make your meal to order with the same attention to detail.
Yisha and Kwok came from Canton, China, in 1985. He had cooked in his brother’s restaurant for eight years and was ready to go out on his own. Golden’s reputation has grown over the years and thousands of people have enjoyed its nourishing and tasty offerings. With 70% of business as takeout, we know that Golden has provided the West End with just what hits the spot for decades.

Golden Chow Mein, 1105 West Seventh, 651-228-1276.
Open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed Sunday.

photo: Yisha Hong at Golden Chow Mein

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Master Plan Drafting and Design[IMAGE]

by Jerry Rothstein

Greg Mach started working for his father, a general contractor, when he was twelve. His father worked building homes in West St. Paul and Fairmont MN. He learned carpentry skills from his grandfather and father growing up, and added to his skills by learning the saw mill trade at a school near his home town. He attended Southwest Technical Institute and studied architectural drafting and construction. With these varied experiences, he knew a lot about lumber — how to make it from raw logs and how to put it together into solid structures.

Coming back to Minnesota in 1980 he worked contracting, remodeling and finish carpentry. Greg reviewed his hands-on work, saying: “In 1983, I started Architectural Display where I created architects models and displays, and continued working part-time until 1998. Between 1986 and 1998 I worked for Sholom Home East and two years with Richfield Health Center. We had our own in-house remodeling and design crew. It involved both design and construction.”

By the time he felt ready to leave heavy physical work behind, he was fully ready to explore the more abstract design side of building with the practical perspective he gained through all his building work. It was at this time he started learning something about design software, while picking up valuable experience working as a remodeling consultant for three “design/build” companies in the Twin Cities. He discovered Chief Architect 3D Home Design software and jumped into what turned out to be an advanced level course.
Remodeling still makes up a fair portion of his work in Master Plan Drafting and Design, along with additions, larger projects like adding an entire basement or second story, and on occasion designing a whole house. Chief Architect allows the designer to render each idea in full three-dimensional graphics. The amount of detail that is possible is impressive. Picture rail, wainscoting, different flooring materials, furniture ideas — the program’s menus offer countless choices that can be switched in and out in moments. Even the lighting can be adjusted to show how a design looks at different times of day. The program has perhaps 80,000 to 100,000 users worldwide, and the company supports user groups, education forums and other learning resources.

Greg is now working with Michael Pach, an advanced Chief Architect user mentoring Greg to reach higher levels of proficiency. One to two thousand hours of study and practice may be needed to truly master this program.

Michael has won a CODIE Award for excellence in software design from the Software and Information Industry Association. He also uses Artlantis Studio, a high-end rendering software. As a perfectionist, he is a demanding teacher, but both he and Greg seem to be enjoying the process immensely.

Greg can be reached at 651-442-9000 or

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Fife’s: Custom PC Provides Electronic Expertise [IMAGE]

Jessica and Jamie Fife are partners in Fife’s Custom PC, a company that offers expert repair and services of computers, game consoles, cell phones and other electronics, as well as buying, selling and trading these items. Jamie also custom-builds computers to meet the customer’s specifications and needs.

Jamie (who is the son of Tease Salon’s Carol Jasin profiled in this issue) is the expert in electronics. After ten years in the U.S. Navy, he was forced to take early retirement due to a back injury. As an aircraft mechanic, he was also able to begin studying computer network engineering and began planning to start a computer business. Jessica is the business and financial manager and is “behind the scenes most of the time,” but she can also do repair work when things get really busy.

Fife’s opened on West Seventh early in 2010 with just computers — then in July began their full spectrum of services, which include repairing monitors, cell-phone water damage, hardware and disk drive repairs and solving overheating problems. They have contracted with companies to provide on-site services, as well as doing shop work. Every computer they sell — custom-built, refurbished or new — includes a software bundle of Office Suite, antivirus and tune-up utilities.
Jaime Fife in the heart of a computer

Jessica and Jamie report that business has been steady with some ups and downs and recently an overall upward trend. They have two kids — a daughter eight and a son six. The family loves outdoor activities — camping, boating and the like. They invite you to drop in and meet them, and see what they can do to improve your computer and electronic equipment.

Fife’s Custom PC, 963 West Seventh, #203, 612-321-6667— Best time to drop in, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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Jandrich’s Floral Heads for Fifty with New Owner [IMAGE]

by Jerry Rothstein

After more than 47 years in the business, Larry and Lorraine Jandrich were ready to pass their business on to a new owner. Serendipity: Ashley Nichols was introduced to them and a conversation began about their plans and hers. In fact, she had decided that she wanted to be in the floral business, after getting some early experience in a job with a flower wholesaler. They worked together for several months, and in August 2010 Ashley bought the business.

Ashley grew up “in the Army,” so lived in many places and attended many school in the U.S. and also Germany. She started college studying photography in Spokane and it was there that she worked with flowers at a wholesaler, making bouquets. She did photography for a while, but the idea of committing to the flower business grew.

Ashley Nichols among her plants and flowers.

As she became familiar with Jandrich’s Floral, Ashley could see what an opportunity had come her way. This was a well-established business — a “solid” business, with an excellent customer base including corporate accounts. She continues to learn “on the job” the many wrinkles of small-business ownership, and continues learning flowers in classes, competitions and shows.

The quality of plants and flowers is clearly a key issue for a flower shop. Ashley generally picks out her own stock at the wholesalers and does not buy the discounted stock. She has learned which suppliers are local, preferring to buy from them, and which have the best of a given type. For example, she has found local suppliers for lilies and alstroemeria who are excellent.

The flower business is steady — and then comes Valentine’s Day or Easter, Memorial Day, Mother’s Day and Thanksgiving — where flowers and centerpieces are part of many family traditions. Then demand is high and work multiplies. Sometimes Ashley calls in some extra help — a retiree named Larry Jandrich.

Jandrich Floral, 976 West 7th, 651-292-8833.

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Shoddy Knock-Offs Infiltrate the Internet

Better Business Bureau
The market for counterfeit luxury items is wide and deep, covering everything from jewelry and perfume to handbags and sunglasses. Bargain-hunters should check out the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota’s (BBB) advice on avoiding web-based rip-off schemes before looking online for name-brand items at discount prices.

Online classified sites like craigslist or eBay are hot spots for counterfeit luxury item fraud, and both offer “buyer beware” warnings. But vendors are now setting up their own websites to fool frugal shoppers. The BBB suggest that you always deal with reputable businesses. When in doubt, shoppers can contact the manufacturer and verify which vendors are authorized sellers. Consumers should also check out the business with BBB at before making a purchasing decision.

Consumers who have purchased counterfeit luxury goods should contact the BBB and can easily file complaints online at Consumers can also contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission at and file a complaint online.

BBB Advice on Refund Anticipation Loans

Some tax preparers offer Refund Anticipation Loans (RALs) to allow people to receive their tax refunds immediately. However, the BBB is reminding people that RALs are not an actual refund from the IRS, but rather a short-term loan from the tax preparing company. According to the Consumer Federation of America, the interest rate and administration fees on RALs can translate to an annual percentage rate of 149 percent for a 10-day term.

“Refund Anticipation Loans may do more harm than good and in most cases aren’t worth the instant access they provide,” said Dana Badgerow, President and CEO of the BBB. “That’s a tremendous amount of money to spend to borrow your own money for two weeks.”
Low-income taxpayers have a number of options for free tax preparation, including Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) (1-800-906-9887 or and AARP Tax-Aide sites Many VITA sites also offer services to help open a bank account or get a low-cost prepaid card, which enables taxpayers to get fast refunds without paying a fee.

Other options available to consumers are Free File, which offers free tax preparation for people whose income is $57,000 or less, and E-file, both of which allow individuals to file their taxes electronically and have their refunds direct deposited. Visit for more information.

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Neighborhood Star Loans and Grants Available

More than $2.5 million is available for capital improvement projects through the Neighborhood Sales Tax Revitalization (STAR) Program. The City is seeking applicants for the 2012 loan and grant funding cycle. This year’s program kicks off with an application workshop on February 8, 2012, where information about the program will be presented. The Neighborhood STAR Program awards loans and grants over $5,000 through an annual competitive application process. Eligible proposals include capital (bricks and mortar) improvement projects in St. Paul neighborhoods that further economic, commercial or residential development and must be matched dollar to dollar with private resources.

Potential applicants and interested parties are encouraged to attend the Neighborhood STAR application workshop on February 8, 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. at the Como Zoo Visitor’s Center, 1225 Estabrook Drive, St. Paul. Neighborhood STAR Program applications are due by 4 p.m. on March 29, 2012 to Planning and Economic Development, 25 West Fourth St. Suite 1400, St. Paul, 55102. Applications will be reviewed and applicants will be notified of funding decisions in July 2012.

Although individual homeowner projects do not qualify for Neighborhood STAR funding, proposals to administer housing programs are eligible. For information on a variety of individual housing programs available through the City of St. Paul Housing Division, please call 651-266-6712.

Neighborhood STAR guidelines and application forms will be available at the workshop, online at or by calling 651-266-STAR (7827). For additional information, contact STAR staff: Michele Swanson, 651-266-6574, Beth Ulrich, 651-266-6689 or Bob Hammer, 651-266-6693.

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Saint Paul RiverCentre, Xcel Center Garner Awards

Officials at Saint Paul RiverCentre, in partnership with Xcel Energy Center, announced the successful completion of their “50-50 in 2” waste reduction initiative. This project was named the winner of the 2011 Recycling Association of Minnesota’s “Green Project” Award. More recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency named RiverCentre/Xcel their 2011 WasteWise Midsize Business Partner of the Year. The EPA Partner of the Year award recognizes overall waste reduction achievements, efforts to purchase or manufacture recycled-content products and activities to promote WasteWise.

These significant recognitions by state and federal agencies confirm the success of the 2009 campus-wide sustainability initiative. The collaborative effort, branded as “50-50 in 2,” aimed to reduce the amount of trash generated at Saint Paul RiverCentre, Xcel Energy Center and The Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium by 50 percent while increasing the amount recycled to 50 percent within two years. The facilities not only reached their goal in two years, they exceeded it. The annual recycling rate went from 15 percent to 53 percent and trash was reduced by 59 percent campus-wide — a reduction of 1.4 million pounds per year.

Saint Paul RiverCentre General Manager and Minnesota Wild Vice President Jim Ibister commented, “This honor reinforces our commitment to becoming a sustainability leader among facilities not only in the region, but on a national scale.”

One of the key features of “50-50 in 2” has been the introduction of compost/organics recycling across campus. Saint Paul RiverCentre was one of the first convention centers in the nation to offer composting in public areas. The program also included an extensive shift in purchasing toward compostable and renewable items. Over 90 percent of food service disposables are now compostable, which has allowed areas like Saint Paul RiverCentre’s Headwaters Café, the arena suite level, and the Treasure Island Ice Lodge to become nearly trash-free. All cups, plate-ware and utensils are added to compost with food leftovers, while all bottles and cans are recycled.

“The successful completion of our ‘50-50 in 2’ campaign is a terrific milestone, but this is not the finish line,” said President and CEO of Visit Saint Paul Karolyn Kirchgesler. “This is a long-term commitment to sustainability that is now a way of life in our facilities.”

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Karo’s now open on West Seventh [IMAGE]

[IMAGE]Hassan Al-Khatib’s undergraduate degree is in international business from Metro State, and when Community Reporter spoke with him in December he had just been awarded his Master’s of Business Administration by St. Mary’s. Hassan has worked in wholesale and importing, but always thought about opening a restaurant. A combination of circumstances led him to assess the former Ray’s Mediterranean site and to meet Steve Ramlow, an experienced chef, and he decided that the potential was there and to lease the space.

His vision is to provide high quality food at reasonable prices, with a fairly simple menu based on steak and chicken. The menu reflects the food he likes to eat — and he eats out a lot. Anan Barbarawi is general manager, and Chef Steve has been in cooking and food services for many years. He provided all food services for the U.S. Bank Business Center on Shepard Road for twelve years, and also owns “Simple Steve’s Gourmet Food Truck,” which he takes to events in downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Hassan basically did all the renovations himself, and has created a bright, comfortable space with thirty seats. Parking on-site is handy.
Initially, Hassan is working to get all his systems working well, and plans to be revising his menu regularly, developing new recipes and adding a catering menu. He sees the possibility of expanding to other locations, using his model and growing reputation for good food, good prices and good atmosphere.

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Soapy Joe’s Car Wash Plans to Clean Up West Seventh [IMAGE]

Soapy Joe’s Car Wash (1340 West Seventh, 651-493-1304), which opened for trial runs in December and provided more than 1,000 free washes to the savvy West Enders and Facebook friends who got the news through the grapevine, is a fascinating world of high technology and environmental concern.

Co-owner Bill Lindsay, who has decades of experience in various kinds of cleaning business, explained that they are using the Express Wash model, which gets you in and out in under five minutes, yet has the ability to perform more than a dozen discrete operations. The machinery can reach every surface of the car — over, under, tires and wheel wells, mirrors — and can clean, condition, shine the tires, flush the underbody and add rust inhibitor, clean the side mirrors, apply surface protectant and assure a spot-free rinse and dry — all while you relax and let the conveyer pull your car through at exactly the right speed.

Soapy Joe’s has equipment that reduces the dissolved solids in water to zero parts per million—this is the water used for the final, spot-free rinse, stored in four large tanks to avoid ever running out.

St. Paul’s Ecolab, Inc. supplies all the washing products used, through its RAIN-X line. Their motto, “Hard on dirt—easy on earth” points to products designed to minimize impact on the environment. Applications are computer controlled for efficiency as well.

Co-owner David Olshansky, who has extensive experience in operating Adult Day Care centers and Home Care agencies laughed when asked how a car wash fits into his business plan. “I met Bill and we hit it off. There is trust between us, and excitement about this effort,” he remarked. “There’s also an interesting connecting in that Bill’s son Joe is our General Manager, and my son Mark and I also work closely together.”
In addition to the car wash, an express detailing shop is being created, where fast, simple and specific services can be arranged — carpet shampooing, body waxing, wheel and tire treatments, upholstery, and special RAIN-X body and window protectants are among the options.

When asked whether they knew that SophieJoe’s Emporium is a few miles down the street and that some locals were wondering about the similarity of names, Bill smiled and said, “We just wanted to be clever. Our legal name — All American Car Wash — is just not that catchy for people.”

Soapy Joe’s has three levels of wash and also offers unlimited monthly plans.

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Hinding Company Celebrates 75 Years of Service [IMAGE]

The Hinding Heating and Air Company, a neighborhood fixture located at 915 West Seventh Street, is celebrating its first 75 years in business. The company has serviced, repaired and replaced furnaces, boilers, air conditioners, humidifiers and air purification systems since its founding in 1936.

Co-owners Pat and Tom Costello point to their customers as the primary reason they have survived and prospered. Pat Costello said, “We have literally served three and sometimes four generations of homeowners, and we could not have succeeded this long without their friendship and loyalty. It is simply amazing to get phone calls from folks who were referred to us by their grandparents!”

Within the past several years, Hinding has completely renovated its headquarters on West Seventh. The upgrade indicates the company’s commitment to steady growth, and sends a message to its customers that it is preparing for another 75 years.

With its clean brick edifice and stylish black awnings imprinted with its new company logo and brand, the building restoration harmonizes with the architecture of the area. Said Pat Costello, “The renovation not only adds value to the building and the neighborhood, but it was accomplished almost entirely with the know-how and craftsmanship of contractors within the surrounding community.”

While the building has been renovated and the website updated, the Costello brothers insist that very little has changed in the manner in which Hinding conducts its day-to-day business. “We are an old-fashioned company,” said Tom Costello, “that prides itself on providing great value and great customer service. We have a reputation to uphold and it is our pledge that the next generation of customers will be treated with the same courtesy and respect as that first generation was 75 years ago.”

Hinding Heating and Air Company, 915 West Seventh, 651-228-1303.

Photo: Hinding’s adds to the ambience of West Seventh in its side yard.

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West 7th Business Association Moving Ahead[IMAGE]


The West Seventh Business Association (W7BA) is conducting a membership drive throughout the West End that involves a personal visit from a member of the Board and a discussion of the benefits of coming together to strengthen the business climate in the West End.

The revitalized W7BA is building on networking, advocacy, leadership, education and community engagement activities to foster the advancement and ongoing success of the West End business community.

Jeffrey Austin, River Garden Yoga Center and Mary Hogan-Bard, Claddagh Coffee.

An important initiative of the W7BA is the West Seventh Enhancement Coalition, which has been pursuing activities that contribute to the physical and social space of the neighborhood. This year, the Enhancement Coalition has presented the first round of certificates of appreciation to businesses and neighbors who have made the effort to beautify or improve their enterprises and neighborhoods.

[IMAGE]Recipients in this round are: NatureWise Chem-Dry, deZinnia, Shaller Family Sholom East Campus, Cooper’s Foods, Claddagh Coffee, Bonfe’s Auto & Mechanical Services, John Ulven, Yust Architectural Services, The Holy Mackerel Studios, Seventh Heaven, Bennett’s Chop & Railhouse, Mississippi Market, Fresh Grounds Coffeehouse, 7th Street Storage, Grand 7, Lawton Professional Building, Hot City Pizza, West 7th Street Pharmacy, Rat’s Nest Salon, Grandma’s Attic, Kessler & Maguire Funeral Home, Wulff Godbout Funeral Home, St. Mark Lutheran Church, Day By Day Café, DeGidio’s, Tease Salon, Salvation Army, St. Vincent de Paul Store, John’s Antiques, McGovern’s Pub, The Liffey Irish Pub, Mike Dorn, River Garden Yoga Center, Tom Reid Hockey City Pub, Casper & Runyon’s Shamrocks, Highland Nursery Garden Center, Sibley Manor, Associated Dentists, Lauer Flats, Cossetta’s, Hinding Heating & Air, Downtowner Woodfire Grill, Sophie Joe’s Emporium, Fort Road Animal Clinic, Fire Station #1 & Crew, Mancini’s Char House, Glockenspiel, West 7th/Fort Road Federation, Lemke & Sons, Vine Park Brewing Company, Supatra’s Thai Cuisine, Petite Salon, Bonfe’s Collision, Little Bohemia Neighborhood Association, Pleasant Park, Burger Moe’s, Chiropractic Health Care of St. Paul, St. Paul Automotive, Fort Road Community Garden, Alliant REH LLP.
Photo: Tonya Walker at her salon, The Rat’s Nest.

For information about membership in the W7BA contact info@west7thbusinessassociation, or visit

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Donut as Art [IMAGE]

by Christopher G. Bremicker

That is the motto of Mojo Monkey, the new donut shop, at 1169 West Seventh. Mojo Monkey is a rich mixture of handcrafted donuts, organic coffee, current music, friendly employees and bright atmosphere. The name of the shop comes from a character in a favorite television show of owner Lisa Clark’s daughters.

Lisa worked at Breadsmith for five years. She learned the pleasure of giving someone something she had made there. On a trip to Seattle to visit her sister, a graphic artist who designed Lisa’s logo, she noticed the many donut shops there. She realized there were few donut shops in the Twin Cities. Lisa looked for a year for a suitable location before she decided to start Mojo Monkey on West Seventh Street. She said she loves the neighborhood and the sense of community here.

Families come into Mojo Monkey and children leap with joy as they look into the glass cases containing the donuts. They select donuts from a large assortment, such as cake and raised donuts, peanut butter-and-jelly Bismarcks, maple Long Johns with a strip of bacon on top, red velvet donuts with chocolate ganache, and donuts with cream cheese frosting, organic coconut, or pecans. Often, customers buy boxes of a dozen or more.

On weekends, Mojo Monkey makes, to order, beignets, French donuts that are popular in the south. Beignets are quick-fried and covered with powdered sugar. They should be eaten immediately and dipped in hot chocolate or coffee, Lisa said.

The organic coffee at Mojo Monkey is made from beans bought from farms that support the Fair Trade Agreement. This agreement requires growers to pay its employees fairly and provide fair working conditions

Mojo Monkey’s music is selected by a programmer who spends hours at the library researching music from local artists. Lisa calls the music jazz, blues, urban, and independent. The music fills the shop as customers sit at the tables and enjoy a cup of coffee and a banana fritter, for example, and the employees arrange the cases with freshly fried and frosted donuts kept in a rack behind the counter.
Lisa believes in treating her staff well and working them hard. Lisa starts frying the donuts at nine o’clock at night. Her finishers, her mother, Laura, and friend, Julia, start work at four in the morning. Ivy, Rose, Dria, and Julia’s sister, Laura, who work the counter, arrive later. Lisa’s sister, Helena, and her daughters, Bella and Hannah, help customers from behind the counter too. Lisa considers herself a mom providing work for her family.

On the big window above the door are stenciled the words, Delight, Indulge, Handcrafted, Sweet, Fresh, and Bliss. A window to the small kitchen in back shows employees working at the fryer, the oven, for making Danish, which are expected soon, the mixing table and the finishing table. Big bags of flour and sugar are stacked on the floor. There are containers of pistachios, Oreos, M&Ms, toffee, peanuts, black walnuts, blue and red sprinkles, pecans, and organic coconut.
Mojo Monkey is located in the same retail space once occupied by Rudies Coffee House. Lisa kept Rudies’ black-and-white-checked tile floor and replaced the red-and-black color of its walls with a bright robin’s egg blue. She added a window in back by the kitchen and new tables and chairs. Alcoves of tables and chairs look out on West Seventh. Fresh flowers are on each table. Mojo Monkey has Wi-Fi.
Mojo Monkey’s hours are 5:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. They are closed on Monday.

Owner Lisa Clark hand-making donuts in the back baking room.

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Bryan Tschida’s American Family Insurance
by Jerry Rothstein
For many years, Bryan Tschida’s American Family Insurance sign at the corner of Cleveland and Randolph was a familiar sight. Recently, he purchased and renovated the building at 1560 West Seventh and is open for business.
Of the many Tschidas in St. Paul, Bryan’s father grew up in Frogtown and started Tschida Plumbing. Bryan was raised in South St. Paul, graduated from Gustavus Adolphus, and started out holding a number of jobs in business and banking. He began with American Family in 1996.
American Family Insurance, based in Madison, Wisconsin, is a mutual company owned by its policy holders. Now more than 75 years old, it operates in 19 states and is one of the few remaining insurance companies to have its own agents. So Bryan is not a broker who handles many different companies. His contract is with American Family only, and he in turn employs his staff.
When he decided to move, needing more space and room to grow, he didn’t find many Internet listings, so he began driving around St. Paul. With its easy access, many existing clients in the West Seventh area, and the chance to own his own place, the location was a good fit.
Bryan is happy with what American Family provides. He offers annuities, life, property and automobile policies and commercial coverage. Claims are handled promptly — the company presents a trustworthy and best value philosophy. In fact, almost all his employees are also policy holders. The office is staffed and a real person answers the phones. Cindy Bryant has been with the agency for eleven years; Kim Nutzmann, who grew up in the West End, for three.
Bryan Tschida Agency, 1560 West Seventh, 651-690-5334.
Claddagh Coffee Opens on West Seventh  [IMAGE]

by Paul Bard

“Mom!” he said. “You want something that sounds Irish and friendly, right? Okay, here’s the name — Claddagh Coffee!” And that, explained Mary Hogan-Bard, is how her teenage son Liam picked the name for the West End’s newest coffee shop, Claddagh Coffee, at 459 West Seventh.

The Claddagh (pronounced kla’-dah) is the familiar Irish symbol of two hands holding a heart, surmounted by a crown. The symbol represents love, friendship and loyalty — qualities that Mary and her staff hope their new enterprise, which opened its doors on August 13, will come to represent for all of their customers and neighbors. “We want Claddagh Coffee to be a cheerful, relaxing place where people can come in, meet with friends and have really great coffee, tea and food at affordable prices,” said Mary.

Mary Hogan-Bard grew up in Minneapolis, but she’s lived in St. Paul since 1983. She dreamed of running her own coffee shop for years. But raising four children (and restoring the family’s three-story Victorian home) took priority. Then, a year and a half ago, as her youngest was preparing to enter high school, she decided it was time to take the plunge. Mary and husband Bill Bard began putting together a business plan and scouting locations. An acquaintance told her about a storefront in the historic Otto W. Rohland building on West Seventh, so she went to have a look. When she saw the space, with its exposed brick walls and soaring 14-foot ceilings, it was love at first sight.

Jeff Austin and Scott Syberlic, the buildings owners, thought a coffee shop was a perfect fit. Their help was indispensible in both designing and building out the space, including Claddagh’s basement conference room, which can be reserved for meetings. “Jeff and Scott have been just great,” said Mary. “They went the extra mile to make sure that everything was done right. Look at the beautiful wrought-iron railings on the stairway. I love details like that.”

From its brand new kitchen, featuring top-of-the-line equipment such as a La Marzocco espresso machine, Claddagh serves coffee from three different roasters, so there’s always something new to try. In addition, Claddagh prepares coffee using the “pour over” brewing method, which brings out the best in the coffee.

Customers can pick up a quick coffee to go, or linger at one of the church pews that line the walls, and enjoy one of the signature specialty drinks with names like “Drop-Kick Murphy,” “Sister Mary Claddagh,” and “St. Paddy’s Aloha” (made with coconut milk). Along with the many varieties of coffee and tea, Claddagh will also offer panini sandwiches, soups, salads, pastries and small plates.

Mary credits numerous friends, business professionals and coffee experts for helping her get this far. But from now on, in running the business day to day, she will depend on managers (and long-time friends) Patrick Gavin and Candace Gislason. “I absolutely could not have done it without them,” Mary said. “Their dedication, along with all the great young people we have working here, is what will bring us success in the long run.” Mary’s confidence is also buoyed by the warm welcome she’s received from customers and especially from her immediate neighbors at Sophie Joe’s Emporium, RiverGarden Yoga Center, and St. Vincent de Paul’s. “We only just started,” Mary said. “But they’ve already made us feel like old friends.”

Claddagh Coffee is open daily. Summer hours are Monday-Thursday 6:30am-8pm.; Friday-Saturday, 6:30am-10pm; Sunday, 7:30am-5pm. 651-600-3400.

Editor’s Note: Paul Bard is a freelance writer and editor. Although he is Mary Hogan-Bard’s brother in law, and thus partial to her enterprise, you can verify his information by visiting Claddagh yourself.

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José Castro Farmers Insurance Agency [IMAGE]

by Jerry Rothstein

José Castro opened his new Farmer’s Insurance Agency in April, after several years of preparation, and education at the University of Farmers in California He worked at the head office in Minneapolis before deciding to go out on his own. His daughter Jheimy Castro is working with him, while preparing to earn her own agent’s license.

The agency offers a full range of insurance products — property, casualty, health and life. As he progressed in his studies and gained experience with Farmers, José began to think where best to locate his office. He chose West Seventh for its easy accessibility and the significant Hispanic population here and in nearby areas, and he is a resident himself. Farmers supported him with a grant to help with startup costs after he successfully completed his course work at the University of Farmers.

He is actively searching potential customers through the Internet and Farmers’ own referrals. Word of mouth, especially in the Hispanic community, is probably is probably his most effective tool. José is happy to be in the West End and confident that local people will support his business. He has a growing clientele and is surpassing Farmers expectations.

José Castro Farmers Insurance, 1250 West Seventh, 651-222-7710

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Highland Nursery: An Urban Oasis  [IMAGE]

by Sharon Mccord

As you walk into Highland Nursery on 1742 West Seventh amid shady oak trees, flowers and plants artfully integrated with metal work, statuaries, running fountains, and gazebos, you forget about the busy street a few steps away. Highland Nursery is known both for its extensive plant selection and unique accessories that people can’t find anywhere else. “We try to make every inch of space the best it can be,” said owner Sue Hustings.

As we walked through the 1.5 acre gardens, she pointed out the unique offerings of her business. A large circular hosta collection sits under a tall bur oak tree. Hustings said that they are known for healthy hosta plants because they maintain the proper acidity in the soil, which rids it of the slugs. In the nearby herb and vegetable garden are 20 types of basil and 15 types of mint. As we approached the water plant area, peaceful running fountains gurgled in the background. The Asian garden features foo dog statues, lanterns, and yew trees. A wide variety of perennials, roses and unusual vines are offered. There are alpine plants that grow no bigger than six inches tall, miniature dish gardens, decorative bamboo poles in all sizes and many varieties of trellises.

But running a gardening business does not come without major challenges, such as fewer customer purchases in a down economy and competing with big box stores like Home Depot and Menards. However, Ramsey County property tax assessments and increases have been the biggest headache for Hustings the past few years. Recently Hustings reconciled with the County to have 80% of her property classified as agriculture and 20% as commercial which led to a 2/3 reduction in her tax bill. But the property tax battle has been ongoing for almost three years with increases of 1000% in 2009 and a feeling that the assessments along West Seventh have been done unfairly.

Sculptor Kevin Showall used landmark bur oak that graced this site for almost two centuries
to commemorate the pioneer family that settled the area.

Hustings said that other businesses on West Seventh have been assessed at considerably lower rates than hers. Furthermore, she has been told by the county assessor that the Highland Nursery is not the best use of the land. Hustings said her business should have had the agricultural classification earlier than now, but the county said they did not know she was a “nursery.” The 2/3 reduction that she just received “will just keep us in business,” said Hustings, “but we are still over-paying.”

Highland Nursery has been in the family since Lois and Henry Harich, Hustings’ parents, opened their business on Cleveland Avenue with a borrowed tent and a cigar box as a cash box. In 1978 the business moved to the current location. Hustings took over full ownership of the business in 1993, and now her daughter, Teri Otteness works at the nursery as well.
A bur oak statue sets Highland Nursery apart from other garden centers. Carved from a landmark bur oak, the sculpture commemorates John Smith and Elizabeth Ryan Smith, early pioneers who cleared this area in 1850 so they could plant crops. The remaining bur oaks at the nursery are likely saplings that they preserved.

Open year-round, the nursery offers something for every season and holiday. For Halloween they offer heart-shaped and blue pumpkins. Displayed in the winter are 32 varieties of amaryllis bulbs and winter twigs and berries. The cedar siding and shakes shop, reminiscent of a rural setting, features a cupola and squirrel weather vane on the rooftop. The shop is filled with pots and artwork, flower fairy dolls and houses, wall sculptures, and wreaths that are all color coordinated. The bathrooms are decorated like ones in an expensive home and every accessory in them is for sale.

According to Hustings, some customers compare Highland Nursery to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum or the McNeely Conservatory because of the garden layout and plant variety. Others come for solace when a loved one dies. The nursery received praise by a partner of architect Ian Baldwin, who said it was one of his two favorite garden centers in the world. Hustings feels honored that Midwest Magazine asked Highland Nursery to exhibit at the Home Show this coming November at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Their display will include flower fairies, a large giraffe, and pergolas and many other offerings. “We are all word of mouth, we do not advertise,” said Hustings. She encourages customers to come every month to see something they haven’t seen before. However, the accolades and her love of gardening don’t remove tax worries. She said, “If they keep raising the taxes, it will be a problem.”

Highland Nursery, 1742 West Seventh. Information at or 651-698-1708.

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As Skylark Dry Cleaning prepares to open at 1456 West Seventh, they are “in business” through a free pickup and delivery service to homes, apartments and offices. See or call 612-DRY-CLEAN (612-379-2532).

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Perspectives on Small Business: Metro IBA

In this and the coming months, Community Reporter features some of the entrepreneurs who are investing in the West End. The importance of communities supporting small, local businesses has been clear for decades, and there has been a revival of efforts to organize and promote this insight.

One of the most energetic and active groups in the Twin Cities is called MetroIBA (Independent Business Association), a nonprofit organization working to support and preserve locally owned, independent businesses. Its mission is to provide continuing opportunities for entrepreneurs, to build economic strength, and to create an environment where locally owned, independent businesses grow and flourish. MetroIBA’s goals are to promote local independents, to educate consumers on the value of shopping at locals and to improve conditions for local independents by influencing public policy.

MetroIBA’s core message is that supporting locally owned, independent businesses keeps more money in our own communities. When one dollar spent at a local independent, an average of 68 cents is recirculated into the local economy. In contrast, when a dollar is spent at a national chain, only about 43 cents stays at home. If Twin Cities’ consumers shift even 10% of their spending from chains to locals for one day, the Twin Cities economy gains some $2 million.

MetroIBA membership is open to businesses, nonprofits and individuals. Business members must have their primary place of business in the seven-county Twin Cities Metro area and be at least 51% locally owned. For detailed membership information see or call Executive Director Mary Hamel at 651-387-0738.
Information from the U.S. Department of Commerce; U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics; and the Bureau of the Census, reinforce the MetroIBA message.

How important are small businesses to the U.S. economy? Small firms:
  • Represent 99.7% of all employer firms.
  • Employ just over half of all private sector employees.
  • Pay 44% of total U.S. private payroll.
  • Have generated 64% of net new jobs over the past 15 years.
  • Create more than half of the nonfarm private gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Hire 40% of high tech workers (such as scientists, engineers, and computer programmers).
  • Are 52% home-based and 2% franchises.
  • Made up 97.3% of all identified exporters and produced 30.2%of the known export value in FY 2007.
  • Produce 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms; these patents are twice as likely as large firm patents to be among the one percent most cited.
What share of net new jobs do small businesses create? Firms with fewer than 500 employees accounted for 64% (or 14.5 million) of the 22.5 million net new jobs (gains minus losses) between 1993 and the third quarter of 2008. Continuing firms accounted for 68% of net new jobs, and the other 32% reflect net new jobs from firm births minus those lost in firm closures (1993 to 2007).

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Solar America Communities [IMAGE]

The largest solar thermal installation in the Midwest sits atop the St. Paul RiverCentre and was made possible by a $1 million grant from the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s “Solar America Communities” program and matching funds from District Energy St. Paul. District Energy’s high-performing collectors generate hot water to be used for space heating and domestic hot water in the St. Paul RiverCentre. Once the building’s needs are met, the system exports excess solar energy to the hot water distribution network serving downtown St. Paul.

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Timberwolf CrossFit Opens on West Seventh [IMAGE]

by Joel Vadnais
Early in June, Tony Koens opened Timberwolf CrossFit at 1044 West Seventh at Randolph. The new fitness center is small, but provides a niche workout facility. With kettle bells, gymnastic strings, plyometric boxes and massive tires, Cross Fit is aimed at a different kind of fitness. With multidirectional movement and fast movement exercises, workouts here are aimed at getting potential customers into the kind of shape Olympic athletes possess.

Tony trained with two medal winners in the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 and many other contenders on a professional level. He is certified by three different accreditation associations. Tony grew up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and later moved to Orlando to join a personal training school, later receiving certification from the National Personal Training Institute. While there, he also taught as an assistant instructor, and later in Champlain, Minnesota, training others at the Velocity Sports Performance center. He then moved to Utah, where for three years he taught at the Utah Olympic Park. Now married with two small children, he decided to open a gym of his own here in St. Paul, bringing his expert knowledge of the art of fast movement and multidirectional movement.

photo: Tony Koens practices on the rings.

In high school, Tony found himself weighing more than 220 pounds, but through exercise and a complete change in eating habits, lost weight and now is a rock solid 185. He does not use the word diet as, to him, the word seems temporary. In high school he did not know about weightlifting, but cut out sugars and binge eating by the age of 17. He began lifting weights ten years ago, and now at 28, he has been teaching professionally for the last five.

A certification with the international CrossFit organization is required to run a CrossFit gym — there are more than two thousand CrossFit gyms worldwide. His exercise routines are intense; starting with 21 tire flips (truck-sized tires), 21 plyometric box jumps and 21 medicine ball squats and tosses, he keeps up the intensity by repeating this grueling pace down to sets of 15, then to sets of nine each. By doing this as fast as possible and charting your progress, this is about as different from a normal gym as you can find. No Nautilus machines here.

Tony is intimidating to look at, just by his upper and lower body bulk, but when he demonstrated his power on the gymnastic strings he became suddenly graceful. He jokingly said, “I want to be able to get my grandmother up to this level by slowly working up to it [on the pull up bars].”

Tony’s passion for helping others sprang from his high school days of intense self-study. He has nine clients now, with the capacity to work with many more. He has been up and down West Seventh putting up flyers and has felt welcomed by local small business owners
Training plans run from $100 to $150 per person per month, with discounts available for police and firefighters at $95 per month. These plans involve three sessions per week in any class. Regular specials include $125 for three times per week and $155 for unlimited classes. Weekly group classes start at 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 a.m. and 12:30, 4:30, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. Open gym is 3:30 and 8:30 p.m. Saturdays Timberwolf CrossFit is open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

More information is available at or 651-329-6089.

La Limeña Market: Spicy! | 6.11[IMAGE]

by Jo Heinz

What hits the eye when first glancing at the signage at La Limeña Market, 1211 West Seventh, is that it offers many conveniences such as paying bills, phone cards, money orders and airplane tickets. What isn’t so visible from the outside is the large array of grocery items one commonly finds in a supermarket. The layout is simple, the shelves well stocked, and the place is immaculate.

It has the feel of the nostalgic Ma and Pa grocery store but with a unique twist: Hispanic products from Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and Peru. Near the entryway, fresh baked breads, cookies, and other sweet treats are delivered daily from the El Guanaco Bakery on East Seventh, which specializes in El Salvadorian baked goods.

About four years ago, owners Elias and Flory Salvador purchased this store, formerly known as La Palma Mercado, from Luis Gutierrez. Next door to La Limeña Market is Flory’s Beauty Salon, which they opened May 1 of last year. Both have beauty operator’s licenses from their native El Salvador as well as those obtained from California and Minnesota.

Elias began his career as a butcher in California, arriving new to this country. Much later he had worked for ConAgra, here in Minnesota, for seven years and was eager to open a butcher shop of his own. His butcher shop has been open several years now. He prides himself on good specialty meats such as fajita, sesina (cow’s neck, skinny cut and seasoned with a rub of different spices and salt), chorizo, and other meats with special, sweet meat seasoning like cinnamon, his recipe of chili salsa, and traditional guacamole sauce. Beside specialty meats, one can buy Angus steak, and fish like tilapia and mackerel as well as ham bones. In the freezer area, frozen shrimp and home-made tamales can be found.

[IMAGE]Some of Elias’ meat customers come in from different areas, knowing the quality and tenderness of his products. It is important to Elias to have a smaller quantity of meat, but maintain a higher quality. His weekend special (Friday–Sunday) consists of carnitas, a traditional Mexican dish made of pork seasoned with cilantro, cumin, and onion.

People from the neighborhood tend to stop in and try the more familiar food items, such as tostadas, donuts, snacks and sauces. However, there are seasonings of all kinds to choose from, such as dried red chili peppers called guajillo, that smell like paprika, varieties of corn tortillas, beans, flours, and canned goods. Unlike many specialty food stores, Elias makes sure all of his canned goods are fresh — indeed, there are no products in this store past their expiration date.

For information, call 651-224-6825. Hours are Mon-Sat 8am-9pm, Sundays 8am-7pm. If you are looking for good prices and fresh wholesome food with great variety, they have not only the hot, but also the tasty food you’re sure to like!

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Lady and the Lion Hair Salon | 5.11  [IMAGE]

by Jerry Rothstein

Jaymes Taylor has opened Lady and the Lion at 489 West Seventh (651-644-5898) and has been busy recreating the former tattoo parlor into a welcoming and stylish salon that has room for four stylists now, and five eventually.

Jaymes is a Master Barber who has been practicing in St. Paul for more than 35 years. He worked at The Barbers with Joe Francis, who also started the Cost Cutters chain of family hair salons, and in 2008 opened Lady and the Lion Hair Institute on Selby. Jaymes was also a model and product development expert for the Lustra Silk line of products. With Lady and the Lion, he can take on apprentices to help them get a start.

Jaymes’ clientele includes people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds — he offers a place where everyone is welcome. Widely known in St. Paul, his regulars include Police Chief Tom Smith, State Senator John Harrington, University of Minnesota Oncologist Dr. Stan Williams and former Minnesota Viking Joey Browner.

Stylists include Nika and Topaz (braids, weaves, dreadlocks, twists and extensions), Tracy (barber/stylist), Robert Keim, who is also an instructor at the Minnesota School of Cosmetology and Shirley Williams (experienced master barber and stylist).

Jaymes points out that a hair stylist is really an “artist-craftsman” whose goal is for the customer to have the right look and to feel like a work of art.

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Prototype Career Service | 2.11 [IMAGE]

by Jerry Rothstein

By the time she was 23, Amy Lindgren had worked at 50 different jobs. “I’m really good at getting jobs!” she says. As a very young girl she recalls pulling a wagon around her White Bear Lake neighborhood, finding cans and bottles to redeem or buying and selling things and setting up some trades. Her urge to do business was so strong that she would buy candy bars and sell them at a profit to her Girl Scout Troop before their meetings. For this she was expelled, but later in life was asked to serve on the Council board, which she did for five years.

As a college student, Amy started two businesses — a house cleaning service that lasted a year, followed by a house painting and tiling business for another year. With all her jobs and enterprises, she put herself through St. Kate’s, eventually (it took almost seven years!) graduating with a degree in English.

In 1985 she started Prototype Career Services to help others find the right job for them. At the same time she launched Banfil Street Press, which provided a business framework for her freelance writing, editorial coaching for writers, and publishing efforts. Banfil Street Press has also published a book for health professionals to help them understand the life issues of former prisoners of war (“Life after Liberation: Understanding the Former Prisoner of War,” 1992). With Prototype, Amy concentrates on helping clients find their career direction and strategizing their job searching process. Once she has a clear idea of what the client wants to do for a living, she also helps them to create focused résumés that strengthen the impression they make with potential employers.

Prototype also publishes books to help people with their job transitions. Their Pocket Job Series offers focused guides for job searching, including: “Five Steps to your Next Job,” “Résumés Etc.,” “Job Interviews,” “Job Search Over 40” and “Financial Survival Between Jobs.” In the Making the Leap Job Search series are “Job Search for Students” and “Job Search for Transitioning Military Personnel.” Customized newsletters and curriculum sold to government job search programs broaden the field of coverage so that resources are offered for just about any aspect of job seeking.

In her spare time, Amy teaches at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis and writes a weekly column published in the St. Paul Pioneer Press and other papers, called “Working Strategies” (see

She and her husband Bruce Peterson live on Banfil. His bonsai are known around the neighborhood, and he took part in the 2010 West Seventh Neighbors Garden Tour.

Libraries connect residents to today’s job market
| 2.11 [IMAGE]

The St. Paul Public Library, James J. Hill Reference Library and Goodwill/Easter Seals, in partnership with Workforce Solutions, are hosting free job seminars in February to help job seekers improve their networking and job searching skills.
  • Between Jobs: Connect to Today’s Job Market seminars feature presenters with a wide variety of career and job-seeking skills and experiences to share. Registration is not required, and all programs are free. For more information, visit
  • Entrepreneurship: The Famous Dave’s Story: February 2, 6:30 p.m., at James J Hill Library, 80 West Fourth Street. Famous Dave Anderson tells his amazing story of how he followed his dreams to become America’s Rib King! Call 651-265-5500 for  info.
  • How a Staffing Agency Can Help You: February 10, 6:30 p.m. at James J Hill Library, 80 W. 4th Street. Representatives from local staffing agencies discuss the benefits to job seekers of applying and working with them. Using this approach can diversify and strengthen your employability, as well as connecting you with opportunities you may not otherwise uncover. Call 651-265-5500 for further information.
  • What are Green Careers All About? February 17, 6:30 p.m. at Arlington Hills Library, 1105 Greenbrier Street. This session with Trina Maldonado highlights training opportunities for a career in various “green” industries and how to conduct a job search for a “green” career. Call 651-793-3930 for further information.
  • How Social Networking Can Help Your Job Search: February 24, 6:30 p.m. at Rondo Library, 461 Dale Street N. Ivan E. Nunez, web professional with extensive experience developing interactive marketing solutions, explores strategies and offers tips for promoting your professional skills while developing your personal brand online. Call 651-266-7400 for further information.

West 7th Business Association
To learn about the West 7th Business Association, email info@west7thbusinessassociation, or visit The W7BA Enhancement Coalition meets the first Thursday of the month, 11 a.m., at Mancini’s Char House, 531 West Seventh. Any resident, proprietor or stakeholder is welcome to attend.

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