Tag Archives: DeWitt’s Downtown District

OPPORTUNITY – Iowa Small Business Owners

What I’m about to tell you will all sound “too good to be true” and you’ll keep waiting for the “catch” when you learn that this Small Business Program will cost you $0. It is my belief that the intention is to simply help small businesses grow.

We are fortunate to live in a town that fosters great connections to the people and businesses in it. We are able to share our successes and work together to find ways to help small businesses grow in DeWitt. The DeWitt Chamber & Development Company is one of the organizations that supports and encourages those business and personal connections. That’s why I reached out to them to help me share this opportunity with our small business, with the hope that a few of our small businesses become even better, which would impact the overall vibrancy of our DeWitt economy.

I am Mary Sandry, co-owner of Sandry Fire Supply in DeWitt. Last year I participated in a program called 10,000 Small Businesses (10KSB), a collaborative training program sponsored by Goldman Sachs.  The goal is to put existing small businesses through a business education program which fosters business growth.  I am excited to share that this program is now going to be available to up to 60 small businesses in Iowa through a “state-wide” collaboration between Iowa Community Colleges.  It will cost nothing for these businesses to participate.

I learned about 10KSB when I was looking for someone/something to help Bob and I evaluate our business and assist us with planning for its future. My experience was without a doubt, the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and our business.

Although I will admit that I was completely skeptical and particularly cautious, it turned out to be a great decision.  The program consists of a combination of online and in-person sessions, along with training in such things as financial statements, hiring practices, marketing, negotiations, etc., I ended up gaining so much more. The networking opportunities and the shared experience with like-minded business owners were invaluable.

The opportunity to work side by side with business owners who experience the same challenges with business operation and growth was incredible.  I have established what I hope to be life-long relationships with contacts who truly want to help me grow my business.

We have used the guidance from the program to develop a new marketing plan for Sandry Fire which gives us the reach we needed to establish new connections and ultimately grow.  We have enhanced numerous in-house processes and software programs that allow for continued growth and improved customer support. Best of all, 10KSB has given me the confidence and courage to take the steps to grow and develop ourselves into the company that supports our core values.

Since completing the program in November 2017, our business has experienced an almost 50% growth.  Although we cannot attribute all of that to this program, I do believe that it has made a difference in the future of Sandry Fire Supply.  We have the knowledge and resources to continue to grow.

Participation in this program will be a significant commitment of your time.  Time to learn and grow – while continuing to operate your business.  But the opportunity to make your business better is truly one you shouldn’t pass up.

Please consider applying for this opportunity.  If you have any questions or would like to hear more about 10KSB, feel free to contact me (mary@sandryfire.com) or check out the 10KSB Iowa website (www.10KSBapply.com/iowa) to learn more about their mission and what other businesses have gained through this opportunity.

Good Luck – and “Let’s Make Small Big” in Iowa!

 

Mary Sandry

Sandry Fire Supply LLC

Serving Those Who Serve Our Communities

I Love My Library

Books have always been an important part of my life. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit The Old Library. Just stepping inside immediately transported me back to the hours I spent in the children’s section as a young girl. I can still remember the shelf where I could find the latest installment of The Boxcar Children. However, what surprised me most was how small it felt. The shelves are long gone, but it is truly amazing how the staff was able to provide such a wealth of information and services in such a small environment. In the late 1980’s, citizens recognized the need to improve the library and designed it to better meet the needs of the community. Just like in 1989, the time has come again to improve the library in order to fulfill library patrons’ needs.

The libraries of the 21st century are not just about books. Although I will be the first to admit that books are still important in a library. It is also about providing residents with WiFi, computers, meeting spaces, diverse programs, makerspaces, and so much more. The staff at the Frances Banta Waggoner Community Library has done a tremendous job over the years with providing many of these opportunities to its patrons. However, so many people are taking advantage of what the library has to offer that more space is needed. So again, we have come to a crossroads. It is time to improve and expand our current facility.

Expanding the current library will allow for more access to technology. Last year alone, the library’s computers had over 12,000 login sessions. In today’s digital world many of us forget that not everyone has WiFi readily available. Libraries work to lessen the digital divide to make sure that all citizens have the ability to use technology and have access to information. Library patrons will continue to be able to use the library’s WiFi and also have access to more than just the current six computers.

An expanded facility will also allow for more flexible and adaptable seating. People can connect with others who have similar interests. The meeting spaces in our current facility were reserved nearly 800 times last year alone. There have been instances when the current space would not hold enough people, so businesses had to look elsewhere for meetings or training sessions. A library’s goal is to provide a community gathering space for all. More space is needed to ensure this goal is being met.

I have lived in DeWitt nearly all my life. My family and I use the library on a regular basis. I love my library, and I am proud to live in a community which recognizes the need to expand and improve the facility to better meet the needs of the people it serves. Libraries transform lives and create lifelong learners. My life was transformed at that small library on the corner of 6th Avenue and 9th Street. Now, I am beyond overjoyed to realize that once again I have the possibility of using and enjoying an expanded facility which will provide even more benefits for this town and its residents.

-Jen Kizer, Enthusiastic Library Expansion Supporter and Patron

It was Meant To Be!

In January of 2014, my husband Kevin and I purchased the established business of Meant To Be in downtown DeWitt.  At that time we added fresh flowers to the store, which was the reason for the name change to Meant To Be With Flowers.  I completed Floral Design Schooling in West Palm Beach from South Florida Center for Floral studies in 2013.  It had always been a passion for me to become a floral designer and I truly enjoy decorating and searching for new, unique ideas!

I grew up in a small town in Northeastern Iowa on a dairy farm, and I have always had a passion to work hard, play hard, be kind and pray!  I feel very fortunate to own a small business in DeWitt and to be a part of this thriving community!  I realize that owning a small business takes lots of hard work, commitment, and a dedication to make every customer that comes in the door feel like they are special.  Our main focus at Meant To Be With Flowers is for people to feel welcome and regardless if they purchase anything or not, that they feel at home! I enjoy hearing our customers call this their “happy place”, or when they say they would like to “bottle our smell up and take home”!  We have a special candle always burning, butter maple syrup is our signature scent.  One of our hometown customer service details is every customer that comes in the door is greeted with a delicious chocolate mint.

DeWitt is becoming a “destination small town” and I am honored to be part of the retail businesses.  I feel we do our best to direct people to other shops in town if they are looking for something that we do not offer.  When customers realize that the retail businesses are working together it makes their shopping experience even more rewarding.  As a businesses owners I really enjoy the DCDC’s Look Local First Campaign we have lots of customers, local and visitors to the community, talking about the program and the Chamber Bucks drawings.  It is exciting to hear customers for miles away talking so highly of DeWitt!

My husband Kevin and I are blessed with four wonderful children, Jenna 25, Krista 23, Colin 20, and Kara 16.  I enjoy golfing, exercising, spending time with family and the long hours of being a small business owner.  I feel my reward for the long hours and commitment to the business is helping people find those unique gift items, decorating for hours for each holiday, which our entire store is now Christmas!  And of course I love to visit with customer and listen to their likes in home décor! Have a Happy Holiday Season and stop by to view our decorated LIVE Window during the upcoming Hometown Christmas Window Walk, on December 2nd!

Lisa Duffy – Owner of Meant to Be With Flowers

Community Gallery is a Labor of Love

The DeWitt Operahouse Theatre was built in 1876 and underwent a renovation/restoration in 1979-1982.  The DeWitt Theater Company bought the building next door and began the second renovation and expansion that included a larger lobby, handicapped accessibility, main floor restrooms along with gallery space for display of artist’s work.  The project had been a labor of love for the DeWitt Theater Company, many of whose members had been involved in the first renovation.  After 3 years of planning, fundraising, and finally construction, the Operahouse Theater was ready to reopen! Interest in building a gallery based on the John Bloom legacy, the Grant Wood byway corridor, and nationally known DeWitt artist, Ellen Wagner, became a reality.  With the generous contributions and the major sponsor, First Central State Bank, the new First Central Art Gallery resulted.

As former art teachers and members of the DeWitt Area Fine Arts Foundation Gallery Committee, we arrange for area artists to exhibit their work in the gallery.  The goal is to enrich the quality of life in our community by encouraging, supporting and promoting the fine arts.  Our mission is to provide and coordinate fine art exhibits for the community.  The committee acquires lists of artists by attending area art events, visiting specific artist’s exhibits or by recommendations of other artists.  We also communicate with Central DeWitt art teachers to schedule displays of student’s work.  Each exhibit has a 2 month slot in our bi-yearly schedule. Photos and information about the artist is also published in The Observer to help promote the works.

We have been fortunate to show a variety of mediums (watercolor, acrylic/oil on canvas, pastels, pencil drawings, graphics, collages, photographs) and genres (nature, abstract, wildlife, portraits, cityscapes, landscapes, whimsical, and calligraphy).  This year we are including the old American art form of quilting, running between July 3rd and August 1st in the gallery.

We are privileged to use time and talent to serve on the Gallery Committee and encourage everyone to enjoy and support this cultural and educational addition to our great community!

Carol Beck and Elaina Lomsdalen – DeWitt Area Fine Arts Foundation Gallery Committee Members

With So Many Choices, Why Look Local First?

No one business can be all things to all people.  And the number of options available to shoppers is greater than ever.  Online vendors, big box stores and franchise businesses offer many advantages. Small Businesses have distinct attributes and advantages as well, and hopefully, give you reasons to Look Local First.

Small Businesses represent community, an interdependence among its residents, neighbors and city leaders.  They offer personalized service and unique finds, but more importantly – a slower pace, and an experience to be enjoyed with family and friends.  They know, enjoy and appreciate their customers, and they cannot exist without local support.

THE CROSSROADS Inspired Living & Garden Cafe opened its doors on June 20, 2011 after a nine month renovation of the former Martha’s Café.  The name recognizes in part, the historical crossroads of two transnational highways 30 & 61 at DeWitt’s downtown intersection of 6th Avenue & 10th Street. DeWitt’s many quality of life amenities along with its nice downtown and music along 6th Avenue, its proximity to the Quad City area and surrounding communities, made it seem like a good location to open a new business.

This was truly a family endeavor and partnership.  As such, it was not only an investment in DeWitt, but a time of making memories and rejuvenation following a period of ill health.  Indeed, it was the beginning of a new and adventuresome journey that still continues to this day.  Having celebrated our 5th Anniversary this past June, we can say that “It is good to be here.” For truly, the best part of this journey so far has been sharing ‘Inspiration’ and ‘Experiences’ with so many people along the way.

That’s what Small Businesses are about:  Personal Connections and integrating what we do into everyday life.  Just one of many reasons to Look Local FirstDo enjoy all that DeWitt has to offer.  Experience Your Hometown….  And Meet Us at THE CROSSROADS.  Be Inspired!

Linda Snyder – Owner of THE CROSSROADS Inspired Living & Garden Cafe 

Finding Purpose in Pink

While breast cancer is a very serious issue, let me share my story of some amazing women and men that I have met in my position at the DeWitt Community Hospital Foundation, the local fundraising organization that supports Genesis Medical Center – DeWitt. Laughter is the best medicine according to them!  I have been with the foundation for 10 months, but after meeting Sherry Stauffer, the woman who started the entire month of local breast cancer awareness, her passion soon inspired me too!  I am graciously aware of my surroundings when I sit around a table of 13 amazingly kind, courageous and very humorous individuals on our Pink for the Cure Committee.  Six members of this committee are breast cancer survivors.  The rest of us have either had or know someone affected by this crazy disease.  Yet, at every meeting there is one common goal . . .  get the word out to everyone about getting annual mammograms to help with early detection. There is not a meeting where we don’t laugh or think of something joyful.  If you’re lucky enough to meet one of these inspiring women be prepared to laugh; they may tell you a prosthesis story or a good one about a wig!

Let me give you a glimpse of what the month holds.  A Community Challenge of lighting up the whole town of DeWitt in Pink; Movie and Mammo night . . . and no, you don’t get a mammogram, it’s just a fun night at DeWitt Operahouse Theatre watching a chick flick and drinking some TYCOGA wine; Community Pink Out, where you are encouraged to wear pink on October 7 (Men this includes you too!); The Pink Stronger Than You Think Event at Springbrook Country Club featuring former television personality Carolyn Wettstone, speaking about how she kicked the cancer fairy’s butt (now tell me, who wouldn’t want to learn about that?), and lastly our very own Joan Reynolds, teaching us how to paint at TYCOGA.

Feel the passion!  Get your pink on for the month of October as we celebrate our fifth anniversary of these great events (Five years is a big number for survivors of breast cancer as a milestone in their journey).

Robin Krogman – Director, DeWitt Community Hospital Foundation

Facts about Breast Cancer in the United States

  • One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women.
  • Each year it is estimated that over 246,660 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 40,000 will die of the disease.
  • Although breast cancer in men is rare, each year an estimated 2,600 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 440 of them will die.
  • On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, and one woman dies of breast cancer every 13 minutes.
  • Over 2.8 million breast cancer survivors are alive in the United States today. This remarkable number is directly related to early detection and treatment,

Seize the Day and Volunteer

Volunteerism is the backbone of  DeWitt’s successful community. Looking around the community, I see the Operahouse, beautiful churches, the hospital, the school, and the warm
welcoming downtown. Most of this was accomplished through the time and efforts of DeWitt’s volunteer community.

I feel lucky to be a part of this community. For me, it started in the late 70’s when Al Tubbs asked me to assist in the reconstruction of the Operahouse (DART).  I felt such pride as the doors opened and the first movie was shown.  It was a wonderful, fulfilling experience.  I guess that was what wet my whistle for volunteering. Since that time I have watched many organization grow, the Hospital Foundation in 1999, the Central Community Educational Foundation in 1993, the LincolnWay Foundation in 2005 (former DeWitt Area Foundation in 1987), the STAR Project for Central Schools in 2006, and now working with Friends of Frances for the Frances Banta Waggoner Library expansion. What a pleasure it is to say I have had a part in these projects.  I pattysmile every time I walk through the doors at one of these great facilities; I even smile when I drive past them!

Pride in the community that I have grown -up in and have lived in most of my life has encouraged me in my volunteering.  I wish everyone would have the opportunity to grow -up in a healthy, safe, active community such as ours; enjoying the amenities so many volunteers have afforded this community. It is so easy for me to say ”DeWitt Delivers”!

Seize the Day!                                                                                                                                                     Patty Henricksen – DeWitt Volunteer and Resident

 

Photo Credit: DeWitt Observer

The Spirit of The Season

Are you having trouble getting into the holiday spirit?  Wanting to share in something a little different?  Hoping to share in the JOY of Christmas with those you love?  For these reasons, along with the desire to connect with my community, I am super excited about DeWitt’s Hometown Christmas event!  

I love living in DeWitt, a community where it is so evident that residents take great pride in where they live.  Not only is DeWitt beautiful on any given day throughout the year, but during Hometown Christmas, the downtown truly shines! As I was running errands yesterday, I noticed the large stone pots in the Downtown District were being filled with lush, seasonal greenery.  The plants were the perfect complement to the holiday lights that were recently put up by a number of community volunteers and the DCDC.  DeWitt sincerely is a great community we live in where there are many people who come together for the greater good.

I have many fond memories from the Window Walk of years past.  I adore the nostalgic feeling one gets as you stroll the streets, peeking in store front windows.  It makes me think fondly of a time where everything wasn’t as technologically spun as it is today.  You can see the children and adults enjoying their ‘job’ in the window.  The bright eyes of the passersby seem to fuel the fire of those behind the glass.  

As if the live window displays aren’t enough to get your attention, one of my favorite parts of the walk is the bonfire the fireman host.  My kids love s‘mores and they idolize fireman, so it is even sweeter to see them participating in such an event and sharing a gooey treat and friendly smile.  Also, many businesses host warming stations or holiday activities for kids to do within their business! My kids have gotten the opportunity to frost their own sugar cookies, make holiday ornaments and even go around downtown and searched for the Elf on the Shelf in the Live Window Displays! What a fun and festive event this truly is!!

So get into the Holiday spirit tomorrow in DeWItt and attend DeWitt’s Hometown Christmas! The weather couldn’t be more perfect for a December night. Grab the chance to mingle on the streets with the ones you love.  While you’re out, take a moment (I bet you’ll find many) to cherish the genuine spirit in the air.  My family and I will see you there!

-Angie Hill, DeWitt Resident and Mother