From the category archives:

Minnesota Businesess

Some of you might be wondering where I have been the past month. While I hate to be away from the blog so much, it happens sometimes that other parts of the business take me away from writing. I have to say that the reason this time is a good one, as I have just done something I have been dreaming of doing ever since I entered real estate – opening my own real estate brokerage.

The company is small to start out with, but that’s the way I like it. Too many real estate brokerages spend tons of money of what I call “Go Big, Go Large”. Their money goes to expensive offices that no one visits, nor any agents actually work from. Overhead eats them up, and their agents suffer. The old way of running a real estate company is dying. I plan on being a part of the new way.

Kirby Fine Homes Luxury Real Estate Brokerage 

My boutique firm sells real estate in the Twin Cities, including Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Lake Minnetonka, and the surrounding Metro areas/counties. While we cater to all price ranges, special emphasis is given to luxury properties, historic homes, and waterfront/lakefront real estate. By keeping the firm small, we will be able to better serve our client’s needs with personal attention. Clients will not be lost in a shuffle of a big box firm where no one knows their name.  While our goal is to be the best, it is not to be the biggest. Think “Jerry McGuire” if you will.

Being as I have just opened Kirby Fine Homes, it will take time to get everything in place. This year a new website will be developed for the brokerage, and knowing me, an Internet presence will quickly be established. I am very excited about this new venture, and can’t wait to see what 2011 brings for the local real estate market!

“Kirby Fine Homes – Opening Doors to the Most Exceptional Homes in the Twin Cities”


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Luxury Grand Hotel Downtown Minneapolis

Luxury Grand Hotel

Looks like the Grand Hotel in downtown Minneapolis has sold for $33 million to Pebblebrook Hotel Trust. According to Business Wire, the new owner plans on investing $4.5 million into building renovations. The building will continue as a top luxury hotel for Minneapolis.

The building was originally opened in 1915 as the Minneapolis Athletic Club, built by Bertrand and Chamberlin. Its short stature of 12 stories can be attributed to a 1920’s height restriction.

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The Infamous Minneapolis Corporation – Target

My husband thinks he’s funny. Well…okay, he is. But as we all know, funny people can be annoying sometimes. This little annoyance inevitably creeps up when you just don’t need it. His always comes around when I mention I am going to Target. He interrupts me, always saying “Please, please, a little respect…it’s Targe’t (pronounced Tarzhay). Rolling my eyes, I just walk away.
Founded in 1962 as a cheaper version of the Dayton’s Department Stores, it has taken decades to achieve the success in the marketplace we see today, namely the $59 Billion in sales for last year. Now called the Target Corporation, the little store has outlasted all the original high-end department stores that founded it – Dayton’s and Marshall Field’s, to name a few. Growing up in the Midwest, Target was just another store to me, similar to K-Mart. But in 1994, I came back to college, walked into the local Target for supplies, and was shocked to see a completely different brand. They had finally figured IT out and I was happy as can be.
The IT was items that were low cost, but felt high end, and for one word, designed. By the late 1990’s, Target was finding itself. They commissioned architect Michael Graves to design 200 items for the stores and it proved to be another hit with customers. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, CEO Bob Ulrich commented on how amazing it was that Michael was able to take a $135 teapot and produce it for Target at only $35. Soon other designers were beating down the door, as well as Celebrities wanting to endorse the product. (A few of my favorites Target designers are Amy Coe, Mossimo, and Liz Lange.)
Today, Target is even more upscale then it used to be in the 1990’s, and is now the fifth largest retailer in the nation. In fact, when affluent people are asked where they shop for supplies, Target is the first store they mention. When you move to Minnesota, you will quickly find that most Targets are now Super Targets. Target has such a monopoly on the Twin Cities market that Super Walmarts are rarely seen. Don’t be surprise when you walk in and find a Starbucks Coffee in the new stores. How much more upscale can you get then that?

With the success of Target comes its charitable side. A little know fact is that it is written in the corporate by-laws that 5% of its pre-tax earnings must be given to charity. So far, the Target Corporation has given over $150 Million to schools across the nation. It also donated $1.5 Million to the Red Cross to help Hurricane Katrina victims.

Where ever you decide to shop, know that Target is a staple here in the Twin Cities…they are everywhere. A good thing as far as I am concerned. For the last 13 years, I have been a loyal customer, not only because they are always updating their selections, but because the customer service is pretty good, too. Target would probably be pleased to know that I still use four deep blue bowls that I bought in 1995…they are just beautiful. When people ask me where I got them, I proudly say, “Tarzhay”.


To those of you on the West Coast, the mention of Cambria might bring to mind a great little town on the middle of the California coastline. To those of here in Minnesota, Cambria is a locally grown company that is taking the countertop industry by storm.

The Davis family, who privately holds the company, is no stranger to business. They have operated a $850 Million dairy processing operation for the last 60 years, processing 330 million pounds of cheese annually, and are one of the largest suppliers to Kraft.

Created in 2001 by Martin Davis and located in Le Seuer, Minnestoa, the company started off by buying equipment from a bankrupt company. Then by 2002, the first ads were run for Cambria. It was such a hit that revenue topped $9 Million in one year. Today they boast $150 Million in sales, with no end in sight.

What is Cambria?

Cambria is the only producer of natural quartz surfaces in the United States. All other quartz countertop brands are imported, according to their website. The beautiful countertops are produced by taking raw quartz, mixing it with small amounts of resin and pigment, compressing it into a slab, curing in an oven, then sanding and polishing to perfection.

While granite has been the buzz word for the last few years, Cambria countertops are starting to take away some of the market share. Here are some benefits to using a product like Cambria:

  • twice as strong as granite
  • stain resistant
  • non-porous, so bacteria cannot grow in the cracks.
  • all natural
  • comes with a 10 year limited warranty
  • oh, and it’s beautiful too.

While some might not think of Minnesota as being a place for large corporations to stake a claim, there are many famous brands with headquarters here in our great state. I will be highlighting local companies, who’s names you will recognise, over the next couple months to give you a feel of just how important Minnesota is to the corporate world. Many of the products will be those you use everyday. So stay tuned for more!