By David Brakke St. Cloud Times, Minn.
Finding the right Christmas gift for a loved one can be a challenge.
It helps to know their interests or the types of stores they frequent, but Becker resident Jared Brigmon completely eliminated the guess work.
He bought an entire store for his fiancee.
On Christmas Eve, Brigmon convinced his girlfriend Misty Maurer and their four children to accompany him to the Crossroads Center in St. Cloud to pick up the keys to Bling, a women's shoes and accessories store.
Brigmon had kept the purchase a secret for the last few weeks, and simply told Maurer he needed to pick up a last minute gift.
"I didn't have any idea. He kept telling me it was too big and he needed someone to help carry it," Maurer said.
Which is essentially true. It would require a lot of help to haul away the multitude of sequined handbags, glitzy high-heeled shoes and jewel-encrusted accessories sold in the boutique. Maurer says she and her daughters, Kylie, 8, and Kali, 7, are loyal Bling customers.
"I'm obsessed with the color pink and I just love this store," she said. "When I find a new outfit, I'll come into the store and buy shoes every time."
Brigmon and Bling's former owner, Joy Brandt, finalized the sale Tuesday evening, but the conversation to purchase the store started with a phone conversation only a few weeks ago.
"I ship a lot out, and it's common for someone to contact me and request something," Brandt said. "I called back thinking they might want me to ship a purse or something as a gift. No, (Brigmon) said 'I want to buy your whole store.' "
The sale came at a convenient time for Brandt. Medical issues have led to the sale of two other businesses she's owned -- Carribean Sun Tanning in Clearwater and a Quiznos in Sartell.
"My mindset was already there," she said. "I'll basically walk out the door and it'll be theirs."
Brandt said the transition won't be quite that simple. Her lease with the mall runs through January, and she said she'll work with Maurer to guide her in the ways of an entrepreneur.
Brigmon will also be able to help his fiance with business advice. He operates a tree and landscaping service.
"I've been in business for awhile and wanted to give her a chance to grow self-worth and give her something to make her own," he said.
The shock of the surprise left Maurer in tears. With a big smile she shared hugs with Brandt, Brigmon and their kids.
As the emotion of the moment began to subside, one of the young girls asked an interesting question -- "Do we get everything for free now?"