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The three principles of Macomb Township’s Bricks & Minifigs is Rebuild, Reuse, Reimagine. For a Lego® resale shop, they seem like fantastic pillars so let’s talk about them to determine how this national franchise founded by David Ortiz and John Masek in 2010 has done since opening the first Michigan location in 2018.
Rebuild: the Macomb Township location has six large table stands filled with Lego® pieces, not just bricks but wheels, windows, wings, and a host of other parts. They allow visitors to come in and rebuild projects from the past (if you can remember the instructions and find the pieces) or create new ones. It’s a great way to burn an hour of time with your little one after school or over a weekend. They don’t require a purchase but good luck getting out without buying something! For a father, I have to say this is is an A+ service.
Reuse: their stated business model is to buy, sell and trade Lego® parts and “pay top dollar” for it. Ok, let’s be real, any survivable business model will not be able to “pay top dollar” for anything and stay in business for long. You are guaranteed to get maybe 20-30% of value on the dollar if you attempt to sell your Lego® pieces to this store. It’s no different than any other resale shop. They cannot pay top dollar when they have overhead. There must be a margin. With that said, reselling on Amazon or Ebay costs time, listing fees and shipping costs – so weight your options if you want to sell your pieces.
Another part of the Reuse pillar, is selling. To sell, one must have good selection and this shop does. From fantasy minifigs, to Star Wars® to super-hero, their inventory is impressive. They also sell new kits, old instructions and accessories. Now, if there were any complaints about this store, it would be their pricing. Minifigs are about $5 on the low-end, and can go up dramatically from there depending on its rarity. You can probably find better deals at online resale shops. But again, there are other considerations. Though in almost every case, you’ll pay more in this store than going online, you will have to go through the work of finding that item you’re looking for online, have to bid on it, pay shipping costs and of course, shopping online is not as environmentally friendly.
Reimagine: This pillar is similar to their rebuild – and seems to emphasize only that they also sell new sets. It’s up to the individual to reimagine so this pillar is just marketing fluff. It’s great they sell new sets but if I were their CEO, I’d use this “R” from their promos and change it to “Relax” or “Relate”, either to emphasize that one can just walk in, relax and play – or, that this store relates, by offering birthday party celebrations and even posts shopper’s creations on their website. How proud would your little one be seeing their hard work posted online? This is a really cool service they should promote more.
By and large, Bricks & Minifigs is a great local business to visit if you or your children like Lego® products. They don’t charge to come in and play, have a great selection and offer other services for kids. Don’t look to make money by selling your old Lego® and find a deal of a lifetime when buying, but their prices aren’t outrageous considering their overhead. If one were to spend an hour there playing and buy a $5 minifig, I’d say it’s a fair deal. Your kids will love it too.
Verdict: Check it out!
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Local eatery Cedar Garden has been a St. Clair Shores fixture since around 1996 and if you haven’t eaten here, you’re missing the best Lebanese food in the area. It does come with a couple mild drawbacks, so let’s get that out of the way right off the bat.
First, the interior is drab and either the tables are heavily waxed or they are rarely cleaned with soap. Whatever the case, they’re sticky. Though I’ve been eating here since 2006 I can honestly say I’ve never had a case of food poisoning (unlike every visit I’ve had to Wendy’s), so that’s something.
And if you’re expecting service that will cheer your day and make you skip out the door when you’re finished, forget about it. The most you’ll get is a straight-to-the-point service approach and even through the years, my visits have only been elevated to a mild-enthusiasm and most of that is for my five year old daughter who simply brings joy out of people.
So, if you’re not expecting to be wowed by the interior or thrilled with the service, you should expect to be impressed by the food. I’d say they do well much more often than they don’t. The homemade pita are usually soft, made fresh and the toum (garlic sauce), oh my, if I could live on the stuff, I would. Let me say this again, their garlic sauce is incredible! If you order take-out, you won’t get the fresh pita so weight that decision carefully.
The shish combo that comes with shish kabob, shish tawook and shish kafta, rice and a salad is by itself, delicious and enough for two people. It’s usually sparse on the veggies, but I don’t mind. If you do, make sure to tell them and they’ll take care of you.
Sometimes I get the chicken fattoush shawarma salad when I’m feeling like something different and it’s never failed to satisfy me. Definitely get any salad with the dressing on the side. Their dressing tastes great but is heavy on the oil, so control your own destiny with it.
Finally, they have a children’s menu but my five year old won’t even look at it she loves their food so much. Oh, their fresh lemonade is fantastic, just like a slushy and their raw-juices are healthy, fantastic and reasonably priced all things considered.
Verdict: Worth the visit.
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St Clair Shores has a not-so-hidden gem called Baffin Brewery. It’s a locally owned partnership right along the Nautical Mile whose tasty craft beer offerings are designed to entice and quench your thirst. And they do, offering a fine sampling of wonderful flavors from a mango-inspired American-Pale Ale to White beers, IPAs and a delicious stout that’s perfect for a chilly day. You can check out their current offerings by clicking the picture to the right.
The popular mango-inspired American-Pale Ale “Mango Unchained” is now available to buy in cans at the brewery or in stores. At 6.5% ABV and 160 calories, it’s a fantastic accompaniment to a Sunday brunch of eggs, bacon and toast. One has to get their fruit somehow! If you are an IPA fan, hoo boy, watch out for the Mosaic HOP IPA “Mo Problems” because it’s so good it’s bound to cause you, well, you get it.
Now, seating is limited so plan to start your drinking during the day. If you are lucky enough to get off of work a half hour early, do it! The place fills up quickly. Even though their staffers work hard to keep your mugs filled, if you want to sit and sample their offerings, plan to get in earlier than the traditional happy hour.
With that said, say you want to take some of their pleasantries home with you. A couple beers on the menu can be purchased to take home in growlers.
A couple tips, there are a lot of restaurants within walking distance and though Baffin will get food for you prepared from the adjacent eatery, that food isn’t anything to write home about. You can check in with Baffin about their Food Truck days, often on Thursday or Friday. And don’t forget to set dates in your calendar to remind you to hop in for a couple beers. You can get free swag the more beer you drink and when you hit the 150 beers in a year mark, well, you join their Mug Club and become a Baffin hero.
Verdict: Check it out, but during the day!
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Though everyone deserves a place to live, in our society one must pay for it. Because housing is not at all inexpensive, as such, it is a good idea for everyone to look at their housing expenses in terms of costs per day. When one is able to break costs down to such a miniscule level of detail, it’s easy to see where the best bang for the buck may be.
A good real estate professional will have tools that will help you compare the cost of living between leasing and purchasing in whatever market you’re in. This is particularly helpful for deciding future moves or simple day to day budgeting.
Once you factor in variables such as purchase/lease prices, closing/rental fees, insurance, taxes, amortized interest/rental increases, there are simple rules that emerge.
Rule Number One: Daily housing costs will generally only go down when you purchase a home. In the first few years of owning, your costs are the highest. Your down payment, mortgage origination fees, pre-paid taxes and other mortgage costs are not the only expenses. You’ll also pay the most interest on any mortgage you take out in the first few years. But as you pay down the loan principal, the interest will also decrease.
Rule Number Two: In the first two years, total housing costs to buy a home is roughly half as expensive as renting. This is assuming a 5% down payment. But even with a larger down payment, though the expenses will be higher, you’re trading that for instant equity in the home and a decrease in mortgage interest expenses.
Rule Number Three: Equity in a home is a way to build personal wealth, renting a home builds the landlord’s wealth.
Even as there are advantages in leasing, such as the ease of transitioning to the next home (useful for those in the military or contract workers), even though the maintenance and insurance costs are lower, the difference isn’t even close to the economic benefits of home ownership.
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If you are looking for a home you should be viewing each house you visit within the framework of what you’re willing to spend (asking/offer price) for the home relative to its Fair Market Value (FMV) subject to the condition of said home. Work with your real estate professional to determine the FMV of the houses you’re viewing. FMV will be determined based on many factors such as the style of the home, the size, the location, age, quality of materials, etc. in relation to comparable homes in the area.
You should have a good idea of the approximate values of both single story homes as well as two story homes, for there is usually a moderate difference in value per square foot. Make sure you understand the rule of diminishing return for size, for example, larger homes generally are worth less per square foot than a smaller home.
But it’s not just about price per square foot. That ratio is a good “quick and easy” way of viewing the asking price of a house compared with the averages in the area, but don’t count on that to predict the FMV of the home. Again, many factors must be taken into account. Before you place an offer, your agent should be able to justify why the seller is asking the price they are compared to the market.
For example, the house could require many repairs to make the home habitable, therefore, the asking price should reflect the simple formula (Asking Price = FMV – Cost of Repair). If the asking price doesn’t equal the others, then the house won’t sell quickly and as a buyer, you can equalize the formula by offering less than asking price.
On the other size, when you are well acquainted with the market, a house that is underpriced will be obvious and as a buyer you should have NO problem offering more than asking to win out against other bidders with confidence that you will not face an appraisal issue down the line. Again, it comes down to knowing the market and being informed of all the variables that affect FMV.