Business on the corner & more
For months, the old library building stood vacant on the corner of Highway 68 and Jefferson Street. The idea was to repair the building and get it ready for a business. But would one ever come? New windows were installed and the walls repaired and ready.
The false ceiling was taken down to reveal the old ceiling, rich with character of a time long gone. After all, this is an old bank building. But still ... it sat there unused for a long period of time. There was talk of a cafe going into that spot.
But it wasn’t quite right. Not enough parking or even room in the back for the trash.
It wasn’t the old empty building. The furniture and appliance store was gone, the community’s only restaurant had closed its doors. Was this the end for a small town so close to a larger community that provided all the services?
Then, suddenly a group of ladies from St. Edward’s Church decided to fight the financial battle of a small-town Catholic School and raise funds to help keep it in operation.
Small schools have also become a victim of the doldrums that have rocked small towns. So the ladies went to work and soon they’d opened their second-hand store in the old gas station building on Highway 68 and Madison Street.
The biggest “hole in the business community” was on Jefferson street, where four buildings stood vacant after the closing of the furniture and appliance business.
Then, almost as if someone waved a “magic wand,” each building began to take a new form, with new signs and new business for the community. Sofas and chairs gave way to running machines, weights and exercise bikes.
Where there once were washers and dryers, refrigerators and air conditioners, there are exercise machines for most every workout.
A fitness center was born, and next to it a used once store filled with hand-chosen items to fit many shoppers pallet. And near that business, a wood-working shop has begun to emerge.
Many folks were not happy without a restaurant. Yet it didn’t appear possible this small town so close to a larger one would ever find someone to run it. But from the corner of other business, and maybe the corner of some progressive minds, sprung an idea.
Why not purchase the old bar in the community? There’s a vacant lot next to it. Maybe we could fix up the bar and add a restaurant next door? But it takes money. Supplied with the know how, an electrician, a carpenter, a plumber and heating expert on the board, plus other expertise, they began to raise money.
They called it a cooperative and went to work. The “grill” portion of the “Bar and Grill” are nearly finished and plans are to open in April.
And suddenly, a “Hometown Kitchen and Bath,” store sprung up in that old library building in the corner — and a new attitude seemed to be emerging, the attitude of, “We’re doing what we can.”
It may not be a drug store, clothing store or bakery, such as Minneota had in the past.
But it’s what small towns do when they want to survive — they improvise, they take a few chances ... “They do what they can!”
Nadine Kor doesn’t think about things like, “Can we survive in a small town?” or “Is there enough people here to keep the doors open?” Instead, when she opened “Hometown Kitchen & Bath” in that old library building on the corner, she said, “I’ve been doing this a long time and I have a lot of knowledge to share.”
Kinda like storing all that negative stuff in a small corner of the basement and pushing the positive stuff to the front of the store. “And we’ve got a vault in the basement to keep all our money,” laughed her husband Dennis.
The vault is left over from the banking days — the money idea, well, there’s always hope that springs internal in the human breath.
As the snow falls steadily on a Thursday afternoon, Shirley Gladis of, “This and That Recreated,” in one of the old furniture store’s buildings, is excited about her store.
“Business is a little slow lately — but it’s the snow,” she said. Still, she’s been thrilled by the response the public has shown to her store.
And every time some item goes out the door, she feels a little bit of herself goes with it. “I bought this stuff because I thought somebody would like it,” she says. In a sort of heart-warming way, she has carefully chosen each item with a twinkle in her eye and the thought someone else would see it the way she saw it.
Oh, those ladies of St. Edward’s Church, well, they must have a thousand and one other things they could be doing.
But they take turns going through the piles and piles of donations, sorting items, brushing them off and placing them for sale. “Yesterday, we all had our coats and mittens on in the back (where it isn’t heated), putting away the Christmas items,” said Brenda Verschelde.
Everything in the One More Time Thrift store has been donated. “We get a lot of clothes that all have to be sorted,” she said.
Some have to be thrown away. But there is much, too much to display. And right now it’s awful cold for sorting in the back.
“But we had to open a lane for the man to bring in the fuel oil,” Verschelde said, pointing to an old tank in the back of the building. Meanwhile, just one building away, lights come on in the new grill building.
Workers can be seen remodeling, building the new restaurant for the community. The old building attached to the new restaurant will soon be a complete “City Hall Bar and Grill,” named appropriately for the old building that once was the City Hall.
Look straight up the building — it even says so. In the summertime, the local cooperative station known as FCA will re-construct a small tent-like structure and fill it with flowers and plants — bringing freshness and newness to life in a community that needs it the most.
It’s another attempt to, “Do what we can,” in a small town.
Oh, let’s not forget a small-town barber started a business in his home, two ladies, in separate locations sell hand-crafted items in their small stores and are open on a part-time basis.
All of these siblings of business have sprung up from the “heart-and-soul” of “creative ideas,” created by Barb Rye at her store, “The Arched Door.”
Tucked in neatly within the Gislason Ace Hardware Store she and Dave Fahey own and operate, it kind of is the “heart and soul” of what small-town business can become.
Knowing what women want and look for, Rye developed a store with clothing, jewelry and hand-picked items that appeals to the women of the community. And it’s located within an “arch” that is one of the remnants of a business community long past, but not forgotten.
Yes, the furniture is gone, the drug store is a distant memory, and the appealing smells of newly-baked rolls and cookies are long gone.
But Minneota is still here — still in business, and, “Doing what we can!”