Keeping it local — Small Business Saturday showcases Marshalltown shopping options

T-R PHOTOS BY ROBERT MAHARRY — Ruth Roelsgard of Marshalltown, front left, shares a warm moment with Hellberg’s Jewelers Owner Vic Hellberg, back left, Vic’s daughter Erika Lindblom and Erika’s daughter Aubree Lindblom while shopping at the store on Small Business Saturday.

Although it may not receive the attention or notoriety of the day that precedes it nationally, Small Business Saturday has continued to grow around Marshalltown in recent years, and shoppers were out in force to see what local businesses had to offer.

While Small Business Saturday provides an opportunity for shoppers to find unique items and deals that may not be available elsewhere, it’s also a stark reminder about the importance of supporting these establishments — especially in midsize communities like Marshalltown in relatively close proximity to larger metropolitan areas such as Ames, Des Moines, Waterloo/Cedar Falls and Cedar Falls.

Susan Pollpeter, a Marshalltown resident who was shopping at Hellberg’s Jewelers at 13 W. Main St. Saturday morning, put it in blunt terms as she reflected on members of the younger generations preferring to order items online.

“If we don’t support the businesses in our town, we won’t have anything left,” she said.

Brittany Tow, the owner of Brit Marie’s Country Boutique just across the hall from Hellberg’s, has been in business for about three years, and she said she felt like the Small Business Saturday initiative has grown during that time. Tow opened at 10 a.m. and was busy most of the morning.

“I think people are starting to get more of that mindset of supporting local and shopping local just because their dollar goes further in their own community when they support us, because we donate to a lot of different things when it comes to our businesses, ” she said. “I think it’s really important because we’re gonna be here. You hear of all the big box stores closing or moving or whatever. We’ll still be here. As much as I can, I’ll still be here for everybody.”

Kayla Price, the manager of Pentz Appliance and TV at 13 S. Center St., expressed gratitude for the customers from around the area who have continued to support them even in a business where they face stiff competition from larger retailers. In addition to Small Business Saturday, Pentz also ran specials in conjunction with Black Friday although the store itself was closed Friday.

“The biggest difference with us and big box stores is we actually do have a service department, so most of the time, you know, it only takes a time or two or a time gone wrong with the big box store to realize why it’s worth paying more for a local (business),” she said. “Once you realize you need something fixed and you can’t find anybody else in Iowa to fix that particular product and we’re the only ones that do it, then you’ll be really thankful that you got it from somewhere that actually can help you when things go wrong.”

Shoppers who stop in at Pentz, she added, “don’t have to worry about getting trampled” like they might if they were shopping at a big box store on Black Friday.

Real Deals at 122 E. Main St. was one of the busiest downtown stores in Marshalltown on Saturday.

Real Deals at 122 E. Main St. was one of the busiest downtown stores around the lunch hour, and owner Michelle Burgess, who also works full time as the human resources director at Emerson, was excited to show off the wide variety of holiday decor.

Burgess opened Real Deals last October, and while her two jobs keep her occupied and then some, she wouldn’t have it any other way. The relationships she’s been able to build in the last 13 months, she said, aren’t something online or big box retailers could ever replicate.

“It’s a little bit busy, but it’s OK. It’s good. We wanted to make sure that we were part of the revitalization of downtown,” she said. “It’s pretty rewarding, especially on days like this when you get to see everybody come in. The community, they tell us all the time (that) they’re so thankful, they’re so appreciative… When you get hugs from customers and they’re telling you that they appreciate what you do, that makes it all worthwhile. It doesn’t matter how many hours a day you work.”

Along with more traditional retail outlets, local restaurants including the world-famous Taylor’s Maid-Rite, Smokin’ G’s BBQ and Catering and the Tremont Grille also participated in the Small Business Saturday initiative, and the “Fall Into the Holidays” Vendor and Craft Show was held at Veterans Memorial Coliseum from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Taylor’s Maid-Rite, one of the local restaurants participating in the Small Business Saturday initiative, was packed with hungry diners over the lunch hour.

It wasn’t all limited to the downtown area, however. Lora Braudis, who, along with her wife Rhonda, co-owns Oliver Beene Designs at 1714 S. Center St. in the Meadow Lane Mall, relished the opportunity to welcome customers both new and familiar and help them find the perfect gift for someone important in their lives.

“It’s all about the community. It’s all about the small businesses, not the big box stores,” Braudis said. “It helps promote the community, and it stays in town. We take our money and put it back into Marshalltown, which is nice.”

Despite experiencing what she called a “lunch lull,” Braudis said she was busy most of the morning, and she appreciates that, in her view, shoppers are becoming more conscious of why buying locally makes such a difference. She isn’t usually in the store on Saturdays, but Braudis said she received several texts from customers wondering if she’d be there and knew what she had to do.

Along with the individual businesses participating in Small Business Saturday in the Marshalltown area, the second annual Fall Into the Holidays Vendor and Craft Show was held at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

As the President/CEO of the Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce, encouraging residents to shop local is central to what John Hall does, and he believes Small Business Saturday plays an important part in instilling that message.

“We absolutely love to use Small Business Saturday to remind folks on the value of supporting our small business community during the holidays. By choosing to support local, you are choosing to support everything you love about our local community,” Hall said. “We have a tremendous mix of businesses here in Marshalltown and Marshall County, and there are tons of great gifts for everyone you need to shop for.”


Contact Robert Maharry at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or rmaharry@timesrepublican.com


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