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Three decades ago, Steve Morse and his wife, Jani, opened a tiny jewelry store in downtown Billings.

Now he is closing the family venture, Van Rensselaer Jewelers, selling the inventory and starting a new life — a change he called a celebration.

“I consider it a blessing to have a great business that supported me and my family for 30 years,” he said. “I’m going to see what else I can experience in life.”

Four years ago, Jani Morse, who built the business with her husband, passed away.

“I know the value of time, and I’m going to use it to our best advantage,” Morse said of that experience.

He has remarried Julie Burton and they are going to spend time at the farm near Absarokee with a soon-to-be born yellow Labrador.

Friends and customers can visit Steve, when he’s in town, for his 8 a.m. coffee fix at City Brew at King Avenue West and South 24th Street West.

Morse wanted to thank all the customers, some third- and fourth-generation, and to thank Ken Heafner, who has faithfully worked at the store for 28 years. The store at 2564 King Ave. W., should be closed by Valentine’s Day.

Steve didn’t seriously consider selling the Van Rensselaer business.

“This is my life’s work and my deceased wife’s life work, too,” he said. “I just couldn’t bring myself to do that.”

A lifetime of collectibles

For more than four decades, Lin-Lin Lo has collected antiques and other special items that caught her eye from around the world. Now the retired restaurant owner is selling her lifetime collection at a Thanksgiving-until-Christmas sale downtown.

By mid-November, Lin-Lin expects to open a temporary shop called Lin-Lin’s Cupboard at 217 N. Broadway, which used to house the Belleza Boutique beauty salon.

“I do have Asian and a lot of little antique shop collections from paintings with frames, dishes and China,” she said.

She and her husband, C.W. Lo, ran the Great Wall restaurant on Grand Avenue and then Sweet Ginger on Montana Avenue until they retired last year.

Lin-Lin wants to know that the collection she started at age 20 will be appreciated by others.

“I want to sell the things I’ve owned for so many years and have other people treat them as treasures,” she said.

Personal touch

After 19 years in the ski business, Tim Hedin had opened another shop called SkiBoot RX. But this time, he wants to stay small so he can focus on personally helping skiers chose the right equipment and fit, even if they insist on buying on the Internet.

Hedin ran his own ski shop, then worked at Big Bear and then managed the ski department at the former Montana Cycling and Ski shop for two years. Now he’s skiing solo again by opening SkiBoot RX at 917 Broadwater Square behind the YWCA and the old movie theater.

The store carries new boots and skis and Hedin consults.

For a small fee, he’ll help buyers puzzle through all the choices to select the right equipment and sizes and mount the bindings when the equipment arrives.

Hedin’s goal this time is to continue to work hard, but not be a slave to his shop.

“At one time, I wanted to be really big,” he said. “Now I want it to be just enough, so I have time to get out and ski.”

Swiss policy

The German word means something like “coherent and harmonious,” and that’s the idea behind artist Enno Schmidt’s proposal to pay people living in Switzerland just “for being alive.”

According to The New York Times, Schmidt wants to pay a basic income to people. Schmidt believes if he and other activists can get 125,000 signatures and their referendum passes, poverty would disappear and social benefits would ensue.

This experiment was actually tried in the 1970s in Dauphin, Manitoba, a tiny town whose 1,000 poor families received monthly checks. University of Manitoba health economist Evelyn Forget studied the experiment and found that, in addition to poverty going away, more Dauphin residents finished high school and fewer were hospitalized.

American Enterprise Institute conservative Charles Murray has suggested the same idea for this country, giving money directly to people, instead of running social welfare programs.

Out and about

Mike Bolte said some customers think his Feedlot Steakhouse near Shepherd has closed because they didn’t read a recent Gazette story carefully. The restaurant/bar/casino is open seven days a week, as always. Bolte will continue to serve meals and drinks while he tries to sell the business, so he can retire. The sale should take about a year, he said.

By June, Livingston will have a new brewery called Katabatic Brewing Co. Katabatic is a type of downhill wind, which certainly fits the town, said the owners LaNette and Brice Jones. They are remodeling a shop at 117 E. Park St.

Nearly 700,000 tax preparers who work on federal returns must renew their identification number for 2014. All current numbers expire on Dec. 31 and the Internal Revenue Service is asking preparers to renew early to avoid a last-minute rush. The fee is $63 and the website is: www.irs.gov/ptin.

By the numbers

204,000: The payroll growth for nonfarm jobs in October, greatly outpacing the expected improvement of 120,000. The growth in private payrolls last month was 212,000, the strongest since February.

128 cubic feet: The measurement equal to one cord of tightly stacked firewood. Under Montana law, a cord’s legal measurement is 4 feet wide, 4 feet high and 8 feet long, although the pile can be stacked differently. If you hear a seller advertise wood for sale using vague terms like “face cord, rack, pile or truckload” that is prohibited in Montana, according to the Department of Labor and Industry. You also are entitled to a sales receipt. If you think you’ve been short-changed on a wood delivery, take pictures and call the state bureau of Weights and Measures at 406-443-8065 before you burn any wood.

Scams du jour

A Billings man, who declined to give his full name because he recently had his identity stolen, said he’s fielded about eight scam calls over the past month from someone with a heavy Indian accent.

“He was saying he was from a company that said that my personal computer wasn’t working properly and he wanted me to let him into the computer to fix it,” he said.

The Montanan strongly rejected the requests, but the guy keeps calling.

Gaining access to your computer is how hackers steal your personal information or turn your computer into a “zombie.” That means scammers control your computer remotely and use it to hack or infect other computers.

Laugh lines

What do you call an alligator wearing a vest? An investigator.

What do you call a fake noodle? An impasta.

Why are frogs so happy? They can eat whatever bugs them.

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Business editor for the Billings Gazette.