The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently named Superior Service Center of Eagan as one of seven finalists for this year's Dream Big Small Business of the Year award. The award recognizes businesses that excel in staff training and motivation, community involvement, customer service and strategy.

Superior Service and the other finalists will be honored at the chamber's Small Business Summit April 29 to May 1 in Washington, D.C. A winner will be announced at the event and receive $10,000.

Superior Service was founded by Dan Sjoleth in Richfield in 1982 and moved to Eagan in 1984. The business is a full-service automotive facility that offers mechanical and collision repairs with state-of-art equipment. It has 29 employees.

Sjoleth provides internship and mentorship programs at both the mechanical and auto body facilities for students from community colleges and local trade and technical high schools.

Last summer Superior Service served as a learning lab for a group of Japanese businessmen wanting to learn more about lean manufacturing. Their tour was arranged by 3M Co. The Japanese visitors were customers of Maplewood-based 3M, which makes hundreds of products for the automotive market and also has a long-established presence in Japan.

Apple Valley clothing store on Cedar Avenue closes

Fashion Bug, a women's apparel store, recently closed its doors in Apple Valley. The store was on Cedar Avenue next to Rainbow Foods and had announced last summer that it was going out of business.

The closing was part of a nationwide shutdown of Fashion Bug, whose 600 stores also included outlets in Brooklyn Park, Cottage Grove, Coon Rapids, Shakopee and Vadnais Heights. The chain, which specialized in low-priced apparel, got a new owner last summer when Ascena Retail Group Inc. of New York acquired Fashion Bug's parent company, Charming Shoppes Inc. of Philadelphia.

Sales-leaseback for three Pawn America stores

A business entity of Burnsville-based Pawn America recently completed a sales-leaseback transaction on three stores, including its 25,000-square-foot outlet in Fridley. The others are in Fargo, N.D. and Sioux Falls, S.D.

The buyer was National Retail Properties LP of Orlando, Fla., a real estate investment trust that specializes in sales-leaseback deals. The broker that represented Pawn America, James Rock of Cushman & Wakefield/Northmarq Real Estate Services, said the total purchase price for all three properties was about $11 million.

Rock said Pawn America still owns several of its stores in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North and South Dakota, but it was interested in the sales-leaseback transaction to free up capital to finance opening more stores. The company recently opened outlets in suburban Milwaukee, will open another near Green Bay this spring and hopes to further expand its footprint in Wisconsin, he said.

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