There are several iconic Prairie City businesses that attract people from neighboring communities like Goldie’s Ice Cream Shoppe and the gift shop at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge.
In addition to those popular hot spots, there are more than 50 locally owned businesses in town that sometimes go unnoticed.
Sheryl Plate and the Prairie City Business Association brought businesses together Saturday morning as a way to network and say “thank you” for having a business in the community. Plate said she wanted to open the event to the public and get people talking.
“My goal was to thank them for having a business in Prairie City,” said Plate, PCBA president. “It can be difficult to have a business in a small town. I’m just an employee, but business owners have a lot of responsibilities and have to keep it going.”
Over coffee and doughnuts, locals shared ideas with one another about their business. Proprietors just starting out and others who have been in the area for more than 10 years were able to collaborate.
Lyle Burkett has been in business in Prairie City for nearly 10 years in hopes of gaining a small-town clientele. He said he started On Your Concrete and even took an interest in setting up several pop-up plant stands during the Prairie City Farmers Market.
Burkett said he took a chance on Prairie City when a building space became available. Since expanding the concrete business’s services to the area, he has completed an entryway at Christian Reformed Church and many projects for local businesses and homeowners.
“We have done much more work in this small town than a lot of places I’ve worked,” he said. “I have felt the community’s support since the beginning.”
For Joan Van Gorp of the Friends of Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, the nature preserve is a unique attraction with a fairly new gift shop. Van Gorp said the main reason she attended the PCBA Open House was to see how she could get the visitors at the refuge to check out other places Prairie City has to offer.
“How can we get the more than 200,000 people visiting the refuge into town and what else can be offered for them,” Van Gorp said.
In addition, the refuge has recently added new artifacts and paintings to their gift shop. Van Gorp said the shop has been reorganized and has seen items come in with higher quality, and since that change, the number of visitors has nearly doubled.
With that growth, Van Gorp hopes to form more community partnerships and support with other business owners.
“We need and want to have more community involvement,” Van Gorp said. “It’s at their back door.”
Contact Kayla Singletary at firstname.lastname@example.org