Gen Xers A Hit With New Gift Shop

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Chris Lander can recite, by heart, the daily breakfast specials at the casino's Cedar Ridge Restaurant.

For five minutes, he raves about the casino's $1.99 morning food bargains, repeating the value menu a second time. But then he stops ... on Tuesday.

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Chris and Breann Lander, and their children Brandon, Savanah, Katie and Veronica, spend lots of time in Payson's newest gift shop, Breezes on Beeline Highway. Chris and Breann agree their hodgepodge of merchandise reflects their relationship. "Hard work, a whole lot of effort, constantly changing and a lot of fun," said Chris.

"Tuesday is biscuits and gravy day," Chris said. "I don't like that day."

If you're looking for a good laugh and lots of great stuff, you've got to check out Payson's newest gift store, Breezes, his wife Breann's nickname.

Chris, and Breann are a fun couple with a wacky Generation X sense of humor -- from the over-stylized synthesized frosty music of the '80s, to the fresh-baked cookies Breann makes every day, to the nostalgic toys -- like the pink Barbie Corvette -- that those of us who grew up in the waning Jimmy Carter administration remember.

And the Landers must be doing something right. They've gone from a six-day work week, when they opened in early January, to keeping their doors open for seven days.

"Everybody told us when we opened we were fools," Chris said. "I can't imagine it in the busy summer months. We're barely keeping up as it is. We had to open up to seven days because people complained."

The Landers' four children -- Brandon, Katie, Savanah and Veronica -- know all about their parents' merchandise and have no qualms discussing their favorite trinkets or guessing one's age. The customers love their moxie, and they're all under 9.

Chris and Breann are close. Their first date, Chris said, was like an interview. They both glance and laugh. And on the second date, Chris proposed. Six months later, they were married.

"We got married for all the wrong reasons," Chris said. "But we stayed together for all the right reasons."

"And now I can't imagine my life without him," Breann said. And again, the eyes meet and they chuckle.

Yes, there are plenty of gift and antique stores in the Rim country, but when you go into Breezes, there's a different vibe. It's not just their excellent and tasteful collection of estate, antique and contemporary items that are attractive.

Chris has been in the collectible business all his life, and comes from a long line of rummage peddlers. It all started with his grandparents hawking their objects d'art at flea markets around the Valley. Then his parents took over and eventually opened four gift shops.

"I couldn't wait to get out of high school so I could start doing this," he said. "We sell everything we like. We call it early-American garage sale."

The Landers live in Strawberry and moved up to the Rim country from the Valley on a whim.

"We had no intention of moving," Chris said. "We had just spent $50,000 remodeling our house in the Valley."

Then a Realtor friend promised the couple they'd love it up here. As soon as the Landers saw the property in Strawberry, they were smitten.

"We signed the contract that day," Chris said. "I'm like, ‘I don't care what you do, I'm not quitting until I get this house.'"

Chris and Breann get all their merchandise from two contracts. One involves cleaning out and picking through the contents of houses vacated by foreclosures, bankruptcies and deaths.

"A lot of times, people back East have a lot of money," he said. "And the things their family members had out here are trivial."

The Landers also get their stock from model homes.

"When a development sells out, the company that furnishes the model homes supplies us with the furnishings," Chris said.

And so, the Landers take pride in their eclectic collection of new and used items, and their efficient life that includes their daily breakfast at the casino, work, their children and not much else.

And here's how the totally Gen X couple gets it all done in 24 hours.

"We get up; we get the kids to school, we go to Mazatzal for the $1.99 special; we go to work and open up the shop; we pick the kids up; we bring them back to the shop to do their homework; we close the shop and then go to Mazatzal for the dinner special; we go home; bathe the kids; go to bed and do it all over again the next day," Chris said.

Breezes is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m seven days a week at 900 N. Beeline Highway, Suite A.

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