HJ-ED-DHJ

Aug. 21, 2006

Eighth Ave. in Howard Lake changing

By Lynda Jensen
Editor

The business landscape in Howard Lake is changing, as a new business takes up residence where Total Entertainment used to be, and the grocery store continues to remain vacant.

Christina and Jason Clark have been busy remodeling the former Total Entertainment video store into a new Snap Fitness, located next to the post office.

Snap Fitness should be open Sept. 15 complete with new Nautilus equipment and tanning beds, Christina Clark said. The fitness portion will be open 24 hours, seven days a week.

The business switch happened when Mark Custer, who owns the building, decided to sell it to the Clarks, instead of renting to Gary and Rhonda Whitcomb of Total Entertainment.

“He approached us last year about buying the building,” Gary Whitcomb said of Custer. However, the Whitcombs weren’t ready to do this with the changing video rental climate, he said.

“The video store is a funny business,” Whitcomb said. With the onset of DVDs and the demand for ongoing new releases, which eventually sit on the shelves, they were not ready to make that leap, he said.

When the change happened, it came down to timing, with a new building owner anxious to move in, Whitcomb said.

The Whitcombs wanted to find a new spot, but were unable to come up with something in the time frame given, Rhonda said. “We were not able to find a new location,” she said.

For this reason, Total Entertainment is closed probably for good, Rhonda said, although Gary noted that if things lined up right, and they find the right spot, they may open again later in the year. “There’s always that possibility.”

In a sign outside the building, the Whitcombs have this note:

To our customers:

TEC has closed due to the fact that the building has been sold. The new occupants will begin remodeling 8/15.

We want you to know we have appreciated your patronage the past three years. We don’t take this closing lightly and will miss the daily contact of our customers.

To those citizens who rented over 100 movies during the last two weeks and failed to returned them, we hope you enjoy the movies. It cost us $16.99 a pieces for those movies.

Therefore the lost revenue of $1,700 is another reason we are closing.

Good luck Howard Lake and thank you.”

The Whitcombs plan to focus on their family, with their seven children, Rhonda said. Gary works at HLWW and Rhonda works at St. James.

What about the grocery?

“It’s been two weeks since I’ve heard anything,” commented Mark Custer, owner of the former Gerry’s SuperValu building.

He had a few leads, but these have since cooled off. “Something needs to happen.”

Custer is worried about paying to heat a building of that size all winter long, although he still prefers to have a grocery store in town, he said.

“Anyone interested in buying says ‘If they didn’t support Gerry, why would they support me?’” Custer said. “I feel bad.”


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