Reynolds visits WC businesses

Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds toured several Webster City businesses Wednesday morning and heard about successes from the women entrepreneurs.

Jaime Roelfs, Webster City Area Chamber of Commerce president, accompanied Reynolds and Rep. Rob Bacon, R-Maxwell, and Sen. Jerry Behn, R-Boone as they visited the businesses. At Heart ‘N Home, the group learned about the Diane Orton’s evolving business. She discussed her move to the new location on Superior Street and the expansion of the goods offered in her shop. In addition to home decorating items, Heart ‘N Home offers clothing and jewelry items as well as vintage goods.

“The clothing and jewelry has definitely helped my business,” Orton said. Offering a diverse selection for customers was important, she added.

Reynolds related a similar story about a business she had visited in Winterset.

“By having the diversity in her store, she’s really tapped into a lot of people – bringing them into the store where they find something,” she said. “I’m hearing this more and more, and you just reinforced that idea.”

The entourage also visited The Produce Station, a pottery shop and studio owned by Maureen Seamonds. Seamonds gave the group a tour of her business and explained the different types of pottery she works with in her studio. Reynolds and the lawmakers also had a chance to see students in action as there was a Legacy Learning class going on at the studio.

Seamonds encouraged Reynolds, a strong supporter of STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – programs to include an “A” in the acronym. The “A” stands for arts, according to Seamonds.

“The arts are so important,” she told Reynolds. “It should be STEAM.”

Denise Smith, owner of SOS Vintage, told Reynolds that her business has benefitted from the festivals and events that have brought thousands of people to the community.

“RAGBRAI was a great event for us. We had so many people from all over the world stop in that we might never have had a chance to meet otherwise,” Smith said. She added that Junquefest was another event which brought thousands to the community over the three-day Memorial Day weekend.

“It was a huge event for the town because it draws in folks who want to stay for the day. They get gas, they eat at local restaurants, stay in the motels and spend time in all the shops,” according to Smith.

Reynolds had a chance to met Timothy Morgan of Good Works Leather who shares space in SOS Vintage. Smith also told Reynolds future plans may involve creating a maker space in the building as well.

Mary Fortune of Shanti Wellness Day Spa gave a tour of her business and explained the services she offers. She told the group that she’s a “one-woman show,” teaching fitness classes, handling the treatments and consultations as well as the marketing, website updates, bookkeeping and scheduling at the business.

“I come back in the evenings and meet with clients, and I work weekends,” she said. “The reality is when you own a small business, when it’s busy, you’ve got to take it. You just keep plugging away.”

The Lt. Governor also met Sarah Kopriva who owns and operates R Company, an upscale resale shop. Kopriva told the group that she has been in business for six years and has grown to offer not only fashions for women and young men, but also prom wear and tuxedo rentals.

Reynolds said she was impressed with the businesses on the tour.

“It’s fascinating to see the diversity in the small businesses I’ve had an opportunity visit today. I heard a common theme on being able to meet the needs of the customers and how flexibility was key to making that happen,” she said.

“I also saw that most of the businesses were here for quite a while and I loved the longevity in all the businesses I visited.

Reynolds said she was impressed with how the businesses are looking for ways to continuously expand and grow.

“My message to them is to just keep on doing what you’re doing,” she said. “They all seemed very appreciative of economic development efforts and community support they received and by the different initiatives that have been launched to bring people to the community and into the stores.”

Reynolds said she was pleased that Bacon and Behn could visit the businesses with her on Wednesday.

“I think it’s good for them to hear first-hand from these businesses as well,” she said.

From Webster City, Reynolds traveled to Humboldt and later Algona for round table discussions with business leaders in those communities.