Blair Auto Mall moves out
There’s lots of exciting business news happening in Blair, which served as the inspiration for my new column, “Blair in Business.” I’ll be reporting on local openings, closings, relocations and other business happenings.
Many Blair residents are inquiring about Blair Auto Mall, which is relocating to Gretna in late January or early February. The used-auto dealership has been mailing out advertisements promoting the liquidation of its inventory.
According to owner Brian Gibbe, the dealership wants to capitalize on the growing city of Gretna, which recently opened its outlet mall in time for Christmas shopping.
“It’s just expanding so much,” Gibbe said Wednesday. “We just think it’s a good move.”
The Auto Mall, which has been family-owned and operated for more than 23 years and employs 12 people, started in Norfolk. It moved to L Street in Omaha after about a decade and remained there for about 10 years. It moved to Blair five years ago.
“It’s been phenomenal,” Gibbe said of its business in Blair. He said there are buyers interested in the property, but he would not elaborate on what type of business could move into the building, which is located at the corner of highways 133 and 30 at the roundabout, next to the Woodhouse and Sid Dillon dealerships.
Bed and breakfast opens
Bakers Bed and Breakfast is opening to its first guests before Christmas at 1929 Grant St. The inn features a second-floor suite with a deck, living area and kitchenette. Reservations can be made for one party at a time, up to four people. Breakfasts are served in the first-floor “country kitchen.”
Owner Karen Baker told me this week that the home was built in 1900.
“We had a separate apartment upstairs, but I didn’t really want to be a landlord,” she said. “I like bed-and-breakfasts, and I’m a good cook.
“Everybody’s been super-excited,” she said of the community’s reception to her business. “I’m hoping it will be full most of the time.”
The Blair Area Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. Dec. 20.
Blair Pawn Shop expands
Washington Street has been abuzz with activity recently.
Blair Pawn Shop, 1647 Washington St., has expanded to the 2,500-square-foot former Midwest Medical Supply building next door, which grows its total inventory space to about 4,500-square-feet.
Paul Hamer has owned the store for six years.
“Right, now, we’re just using it as storage,” he said of the acquired space.
Hamer said revenue has grown 15 to 20 percent every year since it opened. The shop stocks everything from guns to video games to jewelry; Hamer compares his inventory to a “well-diversified stock portfolio.” The busiest time of the year is November through February.
A new restaurant may occupy the former Noodle Koodle building at 1621 Washington St. Jeff Brehm opened the pasta cafe on Jan. 3; it closed over the summer.
According to Harriet Waite, executive director of the Blair Area Chamber of Commerce, a soup-and-sandwich cafe may open soon in that location. I’ll have an update as we get more info.
Haney Shoes closes
Blair’s only shoe store, Haney Shoes, 1627 Washington St., quietly closed recently. A sign in the window refers customers to its store in Omaha. The retailer was known for providing Cargill workers with footwear.
Quilt shop opening soon
Blair’s only appliance store, Ortmeier’s, relocated this year from its building at 1716 Washington St. to Lincoln Street. According to the Chamber, a quilt shop is moving into the space and may be opening early next year. I’ll have more news about this business as it gets closer to an opening date.