Biz buzz: Sorting through the lemons

Patrick Cheever has seen it happen countless times.

Somebody buys a used car, thinks he got a good deal. He drives it for a few weeks. Then something goes wrong.

"I’ve done plenty of the dreaded post-purchase inspections, and I’ve seen people spending a bunch of money on a car that is, in essence, junk," the ASE-certified mechanic said.

So last year, the 33-year-old Tangletown resident launched a small business to help consumers feel confident when purchasing a used car. His business is called APPI (for Automotive Pre-Purchase Inspections), and the service works just like it sounds.

Cheever will drive anywhere in the metro area to check out a car. He’ll give the car a full inspection, including diagnostics, for his standard $99 rate (he offers a cheaper option for a safety inspection, and a slightly more expensive one that includes researching the car’s history).

And, of course, he’ll take it out for a spin.

"No matter how much poking and prodding I do, the most important part is the test drive," he said. "A veteran technician picks up on things that people who don’t work on cars can’t."

Then he provides a detailed report that lists the good and the bad he found.

He said that, for the majority of his clients, the report pays for itself, either because they decide not to purchase a suspect car or because they can use his findings to negotiate a lower price with the seller.

Cheever said he only averages a handful of inspections a month, largely because he relies on word-of-mouth and is still building awareness about his business.

"Everybody’s response has been incredibly positive," he said. "But everybody also says the same thing: They had no idea the service existed."

Cheever still keeps a day job as a mechanic in a St. Louis Park garage, though he’s gotten a little banged up over the years and would like to turn this into a full-time gig.

"I truly believe that my inspections can make purchasing a used vehicle a safe and secure endeavor," he said.

For more info on APPI, call 308-7026 or go online to www.appi-llc.com, where there are sample reports and more details about the different inspections offered.

Painting Uptown red

Visitors in Uptown this month will be seeing plenty of red.

On storefronts, that is.

The window-decorating contest is part of the second annual partnership between the Uptown Association and the American Heart Association’s "Go Red For Women" campaign, intended to raise awareness about heart disease in women.

"We believe in the cause, and we want to draw people to Uptown," said Maude Lovelle, executive director of the Uptown Association.

Sixteen Uptown businesses are participating, including Magers & Quinn, Old Chicago, Ragstock, Mainstreet Bank, and the YWCA. Volunteers from the University of Minnesota have designed the displays, which are up now and will remain up until the end of the month.

There are two other events connected with the campaign. The first is a cook-off at Kitchen Window on Feb. 14, where celebrity chefs will create heart-healthy meals and offer recipes and advice. The second is "Uptown Girls’ Night Out" on Feb. 26 from 4 to 9 p.m.  Participating businesses will offer discounts on products connected to heart and health issues.

For more info on the Uptown events, visit www.uptownminneapolis.com. For more info on the AHA campaign, visit www.goredforwomen.org.

Noted

• A pair of new Asian restaurants plan to open soon in Uptown. Mt. Fuji, which will serve sushi and other Asian cuisine, is located in the old Mysore Café space at 2819 Hennepin Ave. Zen restaurant, billed as an Asian fusion place, is located on Lyndale Avenue just south of Lake Street.

• Al Thieson Renovations is moving into the old Duetta space at 5005 Penn Ave. (just south of 50th & Penn). Thieson plans to open a remodelers’ showroom in the space. Thieson, who works with his wife, Taya Rotering, has been based in Southwest since opening the home-remodeling business in 2000.

• Another Look Resale Boutique, a women’s consignment store at 50th & Xerxes, has closed.

•  The Vitamin Shoppe (whose wares are pretty self-explanatory) opened late last month at 3052 Excelsior Blvd., in one of the strip malls near Whole Foods. Hours are 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Sundays. Call 926-8068 for more information.

• Arc’s Value Village thrift store (66th & Penn) has teamed up with the Bibelot shops to collect gently used clothing. Bring clothing to any Bibelot shop (Southwest’s location is at 43rd & Upton) and get 20 percent off any single item. For more information, call Southwest’s Bibelot store at 925.3175 or visit www.bibelotshops.com.

Do you own a Southwest business that’s opening or moving or closing or expanding or announcing special deals or doing exciting things? Send tips to swjournal@mnpubs.com.