Business Buzz: High hopes for Thanksgiving weekend

Monday, November 24, 2008

Only days remain until Thanksgiving weekend, a few days of visiting with family, cheering on a favorite football team and stuffing oneself with turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie, and hitting the mall at 5 a.m. Yes, I'll be there bright and early the day after Thanksgiving to cover the madness known as Black Friday (and relaxing that afternoon with my wife and her extended family as we watch my Huskers hopefully beat up on the Colorado Buffaloes).

A lot of people are wondering how the retailers will do this holiday season. Not only are we dealing with a slowing economy but have five fewer days in the shopping season. Only time will tell.

If you enter the mall Friday, you may notice some new stores, such as Auto Trim Design. With locations in Cape Girardeau, Sikeston, Mo., and Marion, Ill., Auto Trim Design has opened a satellite location inside the mall through the end of December. According to an employee, business at the store has always been steady during the holidays but picked up around mid-December. The owner decided to go ahead and open a location inside the mall so the auto accessory shop could be one step ahead of the competition.

Let's hope Auto Trim Design and all the other businesses do well in Southeast Missouri this holiday season and buck gloomy predictions. But regardless of what happens, I hope you'll take a deep breath and count your blessings.

n Storage systems business opens in Cape: When property owner Mark Rademaker explored the option of opening a storage system business in 2006, he explored various options in efforts to turn the idea into a first-class operation. On Sept. 23, Rademaker opened Aardvark Storage Systems at 2958 Boutin Drive, which features 135 climate-controlled and nonclimate-controlled units complete with electronic door alarms, 42 parking spaces for RVs and even a self-service kiosk that allows the customer to rent a space without the owner being present.

The most interesting part of kiosk system is the process in which a customer rents the space. He or she must scan their driver's license, fingerprint and photograph. Then, the customer can choose the size of the desired unit. Once the customer fills out paperwork and swipes a credit or debit card or inserts cash or a check, the space is reserved on the spot. Insurance and a lock can also be purchased at the kiosk as well.

"What happens is, some people will be moving into town with all the belongings in a moving truck but when they arrive to a storage place, the office is closed and no one can help them," Rademaker said. "With the kiosk the customers can rent a space without me even being here. A few weekends ago I was in Cleveland for a funeral and was able to rent out spaces to two customers without me even having to be in town."

In addition to convenience, Rademaker said security was a major concern in the design of his storage system business. That's why he included the alarm system on each unit.

"I've found a trick some criminals do is lifting up the door of an empty storage unit that is in the back of a full one," Rademaker said. "Then, the criminals tear out the wall and steal all of the items inside the other unit. By having an alarm I'm able to receive notification on my phone when an incident occurs and am able to tap into my surveillance system on my computer."

Aardvark Storage Systems can be contacted at 335-9988. The business' website (still under development) is

n Rhodes Development clears land near Plaza Tire: One of the more enjoyable parts of my job as your business reporter is putting to rest any rumors that may develop around town. A few of you have given your opinion about the land being cleared across from the Osage Community Centre and adjacent to Plaza Tire Service on Kingshighway.

Scott Rhodes of Rhodes Development Group said the 2.5 acres have cleared in preparation for a buyer and is suited for a retail business. While several parties have inquired about purchasing the land, Rhodes said no one has bought the land.

n King Nails changes ownership, plans expansion: King Nails is getting a face-lift.

James Nguyen recently purchased the nail care business, which he plans to turn into King Nails and Spa. The business is moving from 1131 N. Kingshighway, Suite I to Suite A and B, and now offers manicures, pedicures, waxing and facials. Nguyen said he plans to open Dec. 1, and will be open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Nguyen's last nail business, Nail Pro, was purchased in 2000 and sold in 2001. Seven years later Nguyen said he's excited about what the future holds in this new business.

n Austin's of Alto Pass, Ill., closing after 23 years in business: After more than 23 years in business the antique shop Austin's of Alto Pass, located in the old grade school in Alto Pass, will be closing its doors. Owner Jan Austin told me the shop will close after an open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

As a thank you to its customers, Austin said the shop is offering a 50 percent discount on all items in the shop during the open house. After Sunday they'll be open by appointment only through the end of 2008.

Austin said although one might assume otherwise, the economy is not the reason for the closure.

"We are just ready to transition into a more complete retirement mode and become the tourists as opposed to the tourist destination," Austin said. "Southern Illinois has become a very popular tourist attraction in the past several years, although this was not the case when we started this business 25 years ago.

"We have been delighted with all of the wineries and bed and breakfasts that have been established in the area, and they have certainly helped draw a continuing and growing stream of tourists to the area," she said. "We are fortunate in that regard. We'll miss being a part of all the growth but know the time is right for us to move on."

n Stevie's Steakburger closes for the winter: If you've driven by Stevie's Steakburger at 600 Broadway in Cape Girardeau, you may have noticed the fast food restaurant is not open. However, this is only temporary, as the business is closed for the winter and will reopen April 1, 2009.

Owner Steven Majeed had told me in a previous conversation a few weeks ago that he was contemplating not opening during the winter, which is understandable given that his customers must stand outside while they wait for their food. Majeed said he plans on closing Stevie's for a few months each winter.

n New hospice option offered in Southeast Missouri: Tri-County Hospice Services, a member of Pyramid Home Health Services, has established another option for Southeast Missouri residents. The new office is at the corner of Independence and Water streets in Cape Girardeau.

Services are available in Stoddard, Scott, New Madrid, Bollinger, Dunklin, Butler, Wayne and Cape Girardeau counties and accepts Medicare, Medicaid and most third-party payers. Tri-County Hospice Services is the newest member of Pyramid Home Health Services, a group of companies that includes Tri-County In-Home Services and Tri-County Home Health, which has served Southeast Missouri continuously since 1971.

For additional information or to contact a Tri-County Hospice representative, call 573-614-4000.

Business reporter Brian Blackwell can be contacted at 388-3628 or

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