Design firm opens up shop

IN BUSINESS — The newest tenants at Five Lakes Centre in Fairmont, Betsy and Dustin Tino, have returned to their hometown to open Minuteman Press, a printing and marketing design company. The store is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and by appointment on weekends. The phone number is (507) 399-0300.

A couple of recent posts on social media offered an opinion that Five Lakes Centre in Fairmont is empty, that it has nothing to offer, but that is far from the truth, says Dahmon Gullord, mall manager.

“People say it’s empty, but that’s because they don’t come in and see all the new stores we’ve got here,” he said.

It’s true that the mall lost two strong retailers, Schwesers about a year ago and JCPenney last summer, but both those sites are now occupied with new retailers. A month ago, Savewize, a discount department store, opened at the former JCPenney location. Prior, Blue Box Bridal and Carpet Plus moved into the Schwesers location.

In addition, the mall added Minuteman Press four weeks ago. The new business, a printing and marketing company, allowed 2002 Fairmont High School graduates Dustin and Betsy Tino to return to their hometown. After attending college, Dustin worked as an athletic trainer and in an orthopedic clinic while Betsy established a career as a professional graphic designer.

Gullord said a couple of storefronts are being utilized by existing tenants. Sterling Drug has transformed one area into a display showroom, while Savewize will be filling the former Sears location with furniture inventory.

“Sales are picking up so right now we’re using the former Sears site for an overflow of furniture for Savewize,” Gullord said. “It’s a nice area with all the glass so people can walk by and see everything on display.”

One area Gullord has been working to fill is the former Brewkaz site. While some tenants have approached him about mall space, he also will campaign actively to lure a business.

In addition to the stores already mentioned, the mall houses Dollar Tree, Extra Touch, Shoe Sensation, Nails Boutique, China Buffet, Thompson Haugen Jewelers, Dunham’s, GNC and True Value Hardware. Retail outlets are not the only mall occupants. Marketlink, the post office, Social Security office and Workforce Center also are located at Five Lakes Center.

The mall traditionally has hosted vendor shows, trade expos and social events, and that custom will continue.

“November is super busy,” Gullord said. “We just had the health expo on Wednesday, and we have two vendor shows the first and second weekends. Then we have the annual Ladies Night Out on Thursday, Nov. 16. There’s still tickets available for that at Extra Touch and Thompson Haugen Jewelers. On Nov. 27, we have the Kiwanis pancake feed.”

Another event set to start at the end of the month is the Rotary book sale, which will be held at the south end of the mall. This year, collection bins will be placed throughout the mall to provide a convenient way for people to drop off used books prior to the sale.

The mall is open seven days a week but occasionally closes for a holiday, such as Christmas.

“As of right now, we are closed on Thanksgiving Day,” Gullord said. “The Mall of America is closed on Thanksgiving, and all the big malls up in the Twin Cities are closed on Thanksgiving. I think we’re still a small enough, and hopefully religious enough, community that we can be closed and people can spend Thanksgiving with their families.”