Ranch Oyster Crackers

Recipe-RanchOysterCrackersIngredients:

  • 1 package Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing dry mix
  • 12-16 oz package plain oyster crackers
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. dill weed
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3/4 c. oil

Directions:

Combine dressing mix and oil. Add dill weed, garlic powder and lemon pepper. Pour mixture over crackers. Stir to coat. Place on baking sheet in warm oven, approximately 200-255°, for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!

Bulbs Now, Blooms Later

Wonder how to get the beautiful bulb flower garden at your home? Do you know when it is the “right” time to plant bulbs to have them bloom in the spring? On Tuesday, September 9, Master Gardener Pat Tolmie will share her expertise in bulb planting with us. Whether you are a veteran flower gardener or a rookie to the bulb-planting scene, this class will be informative for all. The class will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will be held at our downtown location. The cost is free, but you need to call and register no later than September 4. Please plan on joining us.

To Register:
Call Jen (507) 457-1108

Retreat Away for a Good Time

Have you ever wanted to have a family gathering but didn’t have a space big enough to host everyone that you wanted to invite? How about being able to quilt or scrapbook with a large group of friends but never had the space to use your creativity to the max? Well don’t fret; you can do all of this at Glad Gatherings.

Glad Gatherings, which opened November 2013, is a retreat house in Spring Valley, Minnesota, that is perfect for crafters but can be rented out for any occasion. “It is the perfect space for bridal showers, baby showers, graduations, weekend getaways, girls’ weekend, and much more,” said Co-Owners Denise Erichsen and Jenny Gurenwald.

According to co-owner Alissa Gibson, “It sleeps 12 people comfortably and has a dedicated craft space which comfortably accommodates 12 people plus their craft supplies.”

Denise Erichsen with her sister, Dolores Bierbaum, niece, Jenny Gruenwald, daughter, Alissa Gibson, are all co-owners of Glad Gatherings.

What started off as a special family occasion for the owners and their family is now a successful retreat away for families or big groups that are looking to be crafty or looking for a big enough space to fit all of their guests. The girls would get together a couple times a year to quilt or scrapbook and had done so in many other retreat houses. “We just really loved the memories we were making and we thought it would be really fun to find a place we could do our crafts that was big enough for all of our nieces and daughters. It is something really special that we wanted to share with everyone.” Erichsen said.

When it came to relying on a lender to help with getting Glad Gatherings started, Levi Livingood from the Merchants Bank Rochester, Northwest Plaza, location was an easy choice and is highly recommended by the owners. “He has been so helpful every step of the way,” stated Erichsen.

“He is fantastic, answers my emails right away, and has been here to visit us in Spring Valley multiple times already. Merchants Bank is great to work with because they make you feel warm and welcome. We would highly recommend any start up business to work with Merchants Bank. They really help make what may seem like work, easy.”

 

Loans are subject to credit approval.

Top Three Reasons Your Business Should Accept Credit and Debit Cards

Credit card processing can benefit any business

Credit card processing can benefit any business

Should your business accept credit or debit card payments? Big or small, brick and mortar or in-home business, thousands of employees or only two…the answer is yes! Businesses of all sizes can benefit from the ease and versatility of accepting credit or debit cards anytime, anywhere you choose. Here are the top three reasons you should accept credit or debit card payments:

  1. Convenience – Being able to accept major credit cards is expected by most of your customers. In TSYS’s 2013 Consumer Payment Choice Study, over half of respondents preferred a debit card as their overall payment method and 35% preferred a credit card. By using Merchants Bank’s Credit Card Processing, your business can meet customer expectations and provide options for accepting payments that are convenient for both you and your customers. Merchants Bank offers a variety of options for collecting payments including counter-top card readers, website interfaces and mobile card readers.
  2. Increase Sales – Accepting credit or debit cards greatly broadens your potential customer base to customers who no longer carry cash or checks with them. In addition, customers who pay by card can easily make impulse purchases without needing extra cash on hand or writing a larger check. Not offering this type of payment option could result in lost sales opportunities.
  3. Simple Pricing and Local Service – We understand that each business is unique, so we will work with you to determine the credit card processing pricing structure that makes sense for your business. Merchants Bank offers easy to understand, “all-in-one” discount fees based on the average dollar amount of your customer transactions (which is your average ticket size). Equipment costs will vary depending on your needs. As always, you’ll receive service and support from local bankers you know and trust. We promise to work with you to keep your costs as low as possible and customize Credit Card Processing to fit your individual business needs.
To get started with Merchant Bank Credit Card processing, simply contact your local branch to complete a Credit Card Processing Application and include two years of financials, or download the Credit Card Processing application here. Click here for more details on our credit card processing program.
 
Credit card processing is subject to credit approval.

Get Your Windshield Washed in Caledonia

WindowWashingCALThe employees at Merchants Bank will be hosting a free car windshield washing event in support of Caledonia High School arts, academics and athletics on Friday, September 5 from 2:00-5:00 p.m. For each windshield washed, Merchants will donate $5 to Caledonia High School.

“Many of our employees have a student, know someone who attends or attended Caledonia High School themselves,” said Matt Schuldt, President for Merchants Bank in Caledonia and Spring Grove. “Being able to give back to one of our community partners is a great feeling and we’re looking forward to this fun event.”

All community members are encouraged to visit the Caledonia Merchants Bank drive-thru on Friday, September 5. No customer relationship is required to participate. Free will donations for Caledonia High School will also be accepted.

Understanding Vehicle Financing

CarShopping for a new car is an exciting process, and contrary to popular belief, obtaining financing doesn’t have to ruin the fun. If you take the time to learn about the two basic types of financing, direct lending and dealership financing, before you take your first test drive, you’ll be setting yourself up for a smooth, efficient shopping experience.

After learning about the pros and cons of each type of financing, you will be ready to find the right car with the right financing.

With dealership financing, you make your agreement with the dealership when you want to purchase your vehicle. The dealer works with you to form an agreement on how much you will pay per month and how much you will pay overall, depending on the vehicle you want, your credit history and several other factors. Sometimes the dealer will sell your contract to a financial institution, and that financial institution will collect the payments.

One benefit of dealership financing is it can be convenient. Provided that you are able to find a vehicle you like and financing you like at one dealership, it can be one stop shopping. Furthermore, the fact that dealerships are open long hours and throughout the weekend may be more convenient if your financial institution has limited hours.

The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) states that another advantage of working with a dealer is that “dealers sometimes offer manufacturer-sponsored, low-rate or incentive programs to buyers.”

The FTC cautions that, “The programs may be limited to certain vehicles or may have special requirements, like a larger down payment or shorter contract length (36 or 48 months). These programs might require a strong credit rating; check to see if you qualify.”

Your other option for financing is direct lending, which means that you apply for and receive a loan directly from your preferred financial institution. This means that you’re able to work with your trusted community financial institution, a place where you know you will be treated well and have an established relationship. When you find a vehicle that you want, you form a contract with the dealership and use the loan to pay for it.

Another advantage to direct financing is that you have the opportunity to secure financing and determine exactly what you can afford before your emotions get involved with the shopping process, which can help you stay within budget. Furthermore, if you apply for financing at a dealership after deciding on a vehicle, the dealer has the upper hand by knowing that you’re already interested in the vehicle and that you most likely want to make a deal instead of walking away empty handed. When working with your financial institution, you have no pressure to make a deal, and the financial institution knows that you can comparison shop at other institutions, so it has incentive to give you a great deal.

“Any time you get preapproved, you help yourself out,” states Justin Pritchard from About.com Banks/Loans. “You learn what lenders are willing to offer, and you gain negotiating power. Preapproved auto loans, like any other loan, allow you to: know how much you can afford, shop like a cash buyer, and understand the costs you’ll pay.”

When you work with a lender directly, there are no surprises. You walk onto the lot knowing exactly what you can afford, so you don’t waste time looking at cars out of your range. That way, you avoid getting lured by deals that are only applicable to car buyers who qualify for a lower rate than you do.

“You may spend hours looking at vehicles and negotiating with dealers, only to find out that you’re in above your head,” states Pritchard. “The auto buying process can be grueling, so focus your attention on what you know will work.”

Not only will there be no surprises about your qualifications, there will also be transparency when it comes to how much you end up paying.

“Dealers are notorious for trying to focus your attention on the monthly payment,” states Pritchard. “That way, they have room to fiddle with other parts of the deal. When you have a preapproved auto loan, the payment is none of the dealer’s business – so there are no games to play.”

 Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Summer Vegetable Lasagna

Recipe-SummerVegLasagnaIngredients:

  • 6 oz. mini lasagna noodles, cooked al dente and drained
  • 1 medium zucchini, shredded or finely chopped
  • 12 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup spaghetti sauce
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 12 oz. ricotta or cottage cheese
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°. Squeeze or press the shredded zucchini to remove some of the moisture. Layer the following into an 8×12-inch (or similar) non-stick lasagna pan:

  • 1/2 of the cooked lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 of the grated mozzarella cheese
  • All of the spaghetti sauce
  • 3/4 of the chopped tomato
  • All of the garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3/4 of the zucchini
  • All of the ricotta or cottage cheese

Press the remaining ingredients firmly into the pan. Top with the remaining noodles, tomato, zucchini, and mozarella cheese. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Serves 6.