On September 9, 2014, Tama County Economic Development hosted the Q3 2014 Pitch & Build competition which showcased Tama County business owners and entrepreneurs and their ideas for new businesses across the county. We heard about unique specialty shops in Dysart and Gladbrook, and food and drink opportunities in Tama and Toledo.
Barb Smith of Smith’s General Store renovated the former Lucy’s Tole building in Gladbrook with an old fashioned general store look and opened for business on June 6. She sells arts, crafts, kids novelty items, and consigned antiques, with a large portion of her sales going to custom orders and personalization. Her unique barn quilts are also a popular item. She would like to capitalize on the foot traffic generated by Matchstick Marvels, which is just down the street. She is looking to raise funds to reach more goals for the store, one of which is to become licensed for perishable food.
Mary Huffman opened KE Black Mercantile in Dysart on April 1, after her daughter bought the vacant insurance building. It has been renovated with energy efficient goals in mind, and decorated with a lot of old furnishings. They offer basic kitchen supplies and gadgets as well as a line of food, with lots of Made in the USA and Made in Iowa products. There is also a coffee bar with seating inside and outdoors. Along with a gift registry and bridal registry is the popular “people don’t know what to buy me” registry. They hope to offer lunches soon and applied for a license to sell wine by the glass.
Audrey Smith would like to open an authentic barbecue place in the Tama-Toledo area, but her cleaning business is taking up most of her time, so her dream is still in the planning stages. She would like to start with “cash and carry” ribs & chicken and then move on to a full service restaurant with turkey, pork, chicken and made from scratch side dishes. She has extensive experience in food service and has already developed her own sauce and seasoning mixes. She would also be open to doing an apprenticeship to share her knowledge with others who are passionate about barbecue.
Brian Gumm started Ross Street Roasting Company in Toledo as a hobby in his garage and is currently at the initial stages of development with a small group of local customers including two businesses. He buys only fair trade or direct trade coffee. He would like to supply local grocers and specialty shops as well as offering private label roasting and local charity roasts. His next steps are to obtain commercial roasting equipment and do facility improvements, with a long term goal of having an online storefront.
And the winner of the Q3 2014 Pitch & Build is . . . Brian Gumm of Ross Street Roasting Company! The next Pitch & Build will be on Tuesday, January 13, 2015.