Farmer’s markets: Negotiations by Four Winds Investment Inc. to buy the former Sam’s Club building in Texas City have raised questions about incentive money the city of Galveston committed to keep some of the company’s operations on the island.

The holding company, which through such subsidiaries as Farmer’s Copper and Farmer’s Alloy, offers servicing and wholesale distribution of metals, stirred speculation when word spread it had an earnest money contract on the old Sam’s Club building, 9300 Emmett F. Lowry Expressway.

In July 2012, the Galveston Industrial Development Corp. agreed to spend as much as $250,000 to help Farmer’s Alloy expand and modernize its island facility, 1908 Strand. The agreement between Farmer’s Alloy and the city’s industrial development cooperation, which uses 4B sales tax to spur economic development, is not at all affected by any potential real estate transaction in Texas City, company representative Ted Farmer said.

The Sam’s Building would be for Farmer’s Copper, not Farmer’s Alloy, Ted Farmer said. Farmer’s Copper operates at 37th Street and Harborside Drive. Unconfirmed rumors have been racing around the county that German automaker BMW is eyeing Farmer’s Copper property to develop a processing center for new vehicles that arrive at the Port of Galveston.

Farmer’s Alloy already has begun expanding island operations and has yet to receive any Industrial Development Corp. money, Farmer said.

“We’re holding up our end of the deal,” he said.

Four Wind Investments intends to continue growing on the island and mainland, Farmer said. The company has not finalized the acquisition of the Sam’s Club building, left empty when the retailer opened a larger store in La Marque last year.

Meanwhile, if Farmer’s Copper moved into Sam’s Club in Texas City, it wouldn’t affect its La Marque operations, 210 Banana St., company officials said. Stay tuned.

Fortune telling: Don’t pack away your New Year’s noisemakers and confetti horns just yet. Some readers are dishing up appetizing, but unconfirmed, rumors that Fortune Chinese Restaurant, 3118 Palmer Highway in Texas City, intends to return by the Chinese New Year, which begins Jan. 31.

After more than two decades in business, Fortune Chinese abruptly closed after a dispute with the landlord. In August, the landlord’s attorney in a note posted at the eatery, asserted the tenant was in default under certain lease agreements and “payment in full of the delinquent amount of $127,496.32 is a prerequisite to any possibility of reletting these premises.”

But there have been signs the eatery won’t be closed for long. Galveston County Health District last month listed Fortune Chinese as a “new opening inspection” in The Daily News. Biz Buzz, however, has been unable to reach the owners. Stay tuned.

Where there’s smoke: Cigar shop owner Larry Buhman has moved and reopened The Smoke Ring, 17050 state Highway 3 in the Clear Lake Area. The Smoke Ring is in the same shopping center but in a larger space, offering lockers for patrons to stash their smokes and a roomy area to sit and enjoy cigars. The Smoke Ring is popular among astronauts and NASA engineers, among others. For information, call 281-332-9871.

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Laura Elder is a reporter for The Daily News. Biz Buzz appears Tuesdays and Thursdays. Email your tips and suggestions to

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