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Suburban Spotlight: DeRusha Visits Bloomington

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(credit: CBS) Jason DeRusha
Jason DeRusha filed his first report for WCCO-TV on April Fool's D...
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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) — Bloomington, Minnesota is well known for Mall of America and for being close to the airport. But when the WCCO This Morning’s dart landed on Bloomington, we looked to viewers for help on what to go see.

“I’ve been a resident for 23 years,” said Deb Irvin, owner of West Side Perk.

Irvin and her husband opened what they say is the city’s first independent coffee shop about two years ago.

“You have to be from Bloomington to display your art, have to be from Bloomington to display your crafts,” she said.

The former strip mall bank is now a vibrant community meeting place.

“Which is harder — raising four boys or owning your own business?” asked WCCO’s Jason DeRusha.

“Let’s see. They both have challenging days,” she said, with a laugh. “This is a dream come true.”

West Side Perk is at 7700 W. Old Shakopee Road.

Another highlight of Bloomington: the unique, 70-meter ski jump, at Hyland Park. The park is operated by Three Rivers Park District and the city of Bloomington. The city has 8,000 acres of parkland, and is also home to the 10,000-acre Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

Up the street from the ski jump, a barber shop celebrating 45 years.

“The reason you’re in Bloomington is because you threw the dart,” said Bruce Paro, owner of Bruce’s Penn Lake Barbers.

Bruce took over the business in 1992. There are three barbers, including his brother Ralph, “the hack.”

“Like, we say, keeping America beautiful, one haircut at a time,” Paro said.

While old-style barber shops are fading away, Bruce’s Penn Lake Barbers continues to do well.

“You get a work ethic, you come to work, people just keep coming,” he said.

Bruce’s Penn Lake Barbers is at 8917 Penn Ave. S.

“This was our first power mower,” said Bob Wolff, as he showed WCCO around The Toro Company’s corporate headquarters in Bloomington.

Since 1952, Toro has had a research and development facility in Bloomington. The company’s headquarters relocated there in 1962. The company will celebrate its 100th anniversary this summer.

About 1,000 employees work in the Bloomington campus. The company was originally founded to make engines for The Bull Tractor Company.

“That’s why we’re the Toro Company, Toro is Spanish for bull,” Wolff said.

In 1952, Toro hired an agronomist — to use all the company’s land in Bloomington, and create the industry’s first research center.

“He used the grounds here to test the best way to care for lawn. He had like 50 test plots. Some were heated underground,” Wolff said.

Toro is in the middle of a three-story addition for a new construction equipment part of their business — 75,000-square feet for offices and room for testing and product development.

So thank Bloomington — for a great cup of coffee, a solid haircut, your pristine lawn … and one fewer Olympic ski jumper.

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