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Hope for tomorrow

Despite the uncertainty of a worldwide pandemic, these businesses in Emmet County started up or expanded while existing businesses persevered

By Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer | Dec 31, 2020

The year 2020 came in with a great deal of hope and less than a quarter of the way in became challenging in ways Emmet County residents never expected. A number of new businesses, however, stepped up to the challenges of launching a new business in the pandemic, and boosted Emmet County’s offerings to its residents and money in local circulation.

As we reported previously, Lesli and Trace Iverson bookended 2020 by purchasing All Star Lanes in January, and the Estherville Golf Course in December. Lesli told the Estherville News, “We’re excited!”

In February, Mike Roehler launched Fire House Mobile Lube in Estherville, With Fire House, vehicle owners make an appointment on the phone or online and Mike will come to the office, workplace, home or other location to change the vehicle’s oil and fluids.

Also in February, Cheryl Lundgren started Eventful, LLC, a party rental and service business. Lundgren said, “It has been just crazy and a struggle. We had many cancellations and others whose events went from 350 people down to 20.”

Lundgren said the pandemic restrictions reaching Iowa in March made it not good timing to open an event planning and rental business.

“Even before the restrictions, people were cancelling to be on the safe side,” Lundgren said.

For 2021, the business has several evetns on the books and Lundgren said, “Our hope is that the vaccine gets into a lot of arms and people have their weddings, birthday parties and holidays again.”

Lundgren said she feels she and partner Jeff Minton went above and beyond when they did have parties reduce from hundreds to a handful.

“We felt driven to make it all the more special for them,” Lundgren said.

In June, Smart Technology Team Solutions moved out of its spot at Studio 12 and into its own space at 500 Central Ave. Mark Gruwell, Edwin Waleh and Rick Frost offer smart home devices and smart phone accessories as well as security services and technology education.

In July, Thrifty’s, the thrift store fundraiser for Echo Plus/Hope Haven, moved from its downtown location to a building near Good Samaritan Center and Thoreson Park: 1520 6th Ave. N. Jennifer Metcalf, manager, posted videos throughout the year showing the progress in remodeling the new space and asking for volunteers. A nonprofit started in 2009 to help Echo Plus offset budget slashes and the great recession, Thrifty’s depends on volunteers to continue.

August 10, Andy Spurgin opened the doors of Estherville Pharmacy to walk-in service after offering drive-through and delivery in June. A community investment made it possible for Spurgin to remodel the former Godfather’s building on Central Ave. for over-the-counter and prescription service. Spurgin said the pharmacy will strive to meet the mission of working directly with patients, providers and other stakeholders to improve the health and wellness of the community.

Angela Barefield started Sittin’ Pretty Dog Grooming in her north Estherville home. Within days of her mid-September grand opening, Barefield closed to new clients as her service was full.

In early October, Alysha Pettyjohn opened Mystic Arts Tattoo in the 700 building. A staple as a tattoo artist in Estherville, Mystic Arts Tattoo features décor from Pettyjohn’s travels in its quirky design as well as a stand where Pettyjohn’s mother, Tara Pyawasit offers permanent makeup. Pettyjohn started in July with tattoos by appointment before setting up in the 700 building.

Morgan Soper opened Studio M on South 7th Street, the side door in the 700 building on Central Ave. in mid-October. Studio M is a hair salon and Soper also offers eyelash extensions in addition to selling various hair and skin care products.

Existing businesses also held the line in 2020, with customers providing support through ordering takeout, purchasing gift cards and certificates to be used at a later time, and having patience with the complications.