By Jordan Gerard
Editor, The Caledonia Argus
This year for Small Business Saturday on Nov. 27, be sure to check out Caledonia’s small businesses, many of which have women behind the wheel.
A brief look at Caledonia’s business listings in today’s modern age finds more than 20 businesses where it is singularly owned by a woman or two, five where the business is co-owned, and a handful of women in management of the business.
What is it about Caledonia that makes it a good place for women to be in business?
Local Keller-Williams realtor Kelly Meyer said working together is important. Meyer has recently started featuring local businesses in videos on her Facebook page.
“I think bringing awareness of what we have to offer is huge, but finding something to bring more people into town is important,” she said. “That means more people will want to move here, and then support our local businesses.”
Meyer started her business in 2006, and currently has an office space at 105 S. Kingston St. She loves working with people and problem-solving. In the high-paced world of real estate, it keeps her busy. She feels most rewarded when clients’ faces light up after buying or selling their home.
One of the challenges she and other realtors face right now is lack of inventory. As real estate is moving faster, finding something to buy can be hard. Places to rent are moving fast too, especially if the buyer is not in a position to own a house.
Bringing more people into town brings more dollars in. Meyer said her family aims to shop local for the holidays, and stay away from the big box stores.
“Shopping local keeps all of the fun things we love here. If we don’t support them, they will go away,” she said.
Mary Ann’s Floral and Gifts owners Aimee Welscher and Arien O’Heron agree being part of Caledonia’s community is great. The fact that there are many women-owned businesses here is also a plus. The two sisters bought Mary Ann’s Floral in late December 2016, and then added inventory from the former Pine Cone Place on Kingston St.
Welscher manages the floral design, while O’Heron looks after the gifts and accounting. Welscher previously worked for Mary Ann for about 10 years prior, and attended school for floral design. O’Heron previously worked as a CPA and a director of business services, but she always wanted to work alongside her sister, she told the Argus.
As a bonus, Mary Ann was their great-aunt, so continuing a family business together was a good choice. Helping them out is their mom, Laura, and husbands and kids who help deliver flowers on Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. A few of Mary Ann’s previous employees also help out during the busy seasons. A lot of family support keeps them going, O’Heron said.
“What we both enjoy is the customers coming in and talking with them,” she added. “It’s great to see someone find that perfect gift or grab a flower arrangement made by Aimee to brighten someone’s day.”
Though there’s trying times in the business world, innovation and persistence are keys to success. Flowers were easier to get this year, but sometimes a specific color wouldn’t be available. For the most part, Welscher was able to get most of the flowers in. A few vendors experienced shipping delays with gifts, but using a mix of USA-made products and larger companies, it all works out in the end, O’Heron said.
Mary Ann’s Floral and Gifts is located at 308 E. Main St. O’Heron and Welscher remodeled the house that Mary Ann lived in, and then added an expanded gift shop in 2018.
O’Heron encouraged customers to stop in and see not just the flowers, but the gifts as well.
“Shopping local keeps a small town thriving,” she said.
Perhaps the type of local business that is most often woven into daily life is the coffee shop, and for Caledonia, that’s The Wired Rooster, owners Jeremiah and Amanda Ninneman.
Both felt strongly about wanting to make a life for themselves in the area, and being close to extended family, living in a beautiful part of the country, making something for themselves, their family and community were the main reasons for opening The Wired Rooster. The coffee shop on Main Street opened on June 15, 2015. It’s located at 131 E. Main St.
“Interacting with our town – seeing how the shop gets woven into our customers’ daily lives, and getting glimpses of our town through outsider’s eyes, too, on their way through town,” Amanda said.
Running a business requires patience and perseverance, not to mention a lot of creative thinking and problem solving, a little bit of luck and a constant focus on what would best serve the community, she added.
Especially facing down a pandemic, the past two years have been a challenge to navigate.
“We’ve been grateful to be in a small town, though, and with such a supportive community,” Amanda said. “We’re still here because of our community – in a larger city, we might not have made it through the pandemic craziness.”
In addition to coffee, espresso, tea, ice cream, paninis and beer and wine, The Wired Rooster is now offering breakfast paninis. They’re also continuing the Winter Cheer Club subscription for a second year.
Supporting all local businesses is what keeps Caledonia’s downtown strong.
“The more money you put back into your local economy, the more robust your lcoal economy grows,” she said. “The more money you spend in your hometown, the better your hometown gets – more businesses can stay open (and stay locally owned), more new businesses can open (and more people can be locally employed), and in turn, all of those businesses can better support the community.”
Caledonia businesses solely owned by a woman/women (in no particular order)
• Pawsh Pet/Blue Ribbon Grooming: Julia Ingvalson
• The Wired Rooster: Amanda Ninneman
• Mary Ann’s Floral & Gifts: Arien O’Heron and Aimee Welscher
• Caledonia Bakery: Suzanne Roesler
• McCormick Funeral Home: Bernadette McCormick
• Kelly Meyer, Keller-Williams Real Estate
• Kelsey Burroughs CPA
• Family Dental Center: Dr. Stacey Johanson and Dr. Olivia Paulsrud
• Herman Dental: Dr. Sarah Herman
• Good Times Restaurant and Bar: Sarah Glasrud
• Family First Counseling: Julie O’Mara Meyer
• Just Stitch It: Holly Klankowski
• Farmhouse Eatery & Gifts: Sara Cordes and Mary Hauser
• Main Attractions: Brenda Johnson
• Nancy’s Salon: Nancy Cordes
• Tamiko’s Hair Salon: Tamiko Hubka Steele
• Sacred Noise Society Arts: Katie O’Reagan
• Country Charm Crafts: Penny Mormann
• Sweet Dreams Pet Cremation: Pam Bauer
• River’s Edge Pet Crematorium: Michelle Smith & Patty Burfield
• ICAN, LLC: Jessie Twite
• Kids Corner: Emily Schroeder
• Haus of Hair: Meagan Hauser
• A Heavenly Touch Massage: Mary Mell
• The Ma & Pa Shop: Wanda Steele
• Kathy’s Beauty Salon: Kathy Houdek
• E.F. Library Services: Karen Folstad
Caledonia businesses co-owned or managed by women
• Elsie’s Bar and Grill: Elsie Babler
• Caledonia Inn/Betsy’s Bed and Breakfast: Betsy Pieper
• Little Miami: Diane Schnell
• Claddagh Senior Living: Carmel Ledebuhr
• Winnebago Springs: Rachel Meiners
• Wholesome Family Farms: Rachelle Meyer
Check out area small businesses in our upcoming Small Business Saturday (Nov. 27) section in next week’s Argus! Be sure to shop beyond Nov. 27 all year, too.
Editor’s note: If a business was omitted from the listing, please let us know. Any omissions were not intentional.