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Waterloo, IA
Waterloo, IA
Gretchen Behm
Kitchen Essentials and Gifts

My gourmet kitchenware store sells high-end cookware and small appliances, and a broad range of kitchen tools and entertaining accessories.

I knew there was a need for this type of shop, and when my co-founder and I decided to launch, the only placed we wanted to be was historic downtown Cedar Falls. This district occupies about six blocks and has a national designation as an arts and cultural district.

The area began its renaissance about 20 years ago, when a local group bought an historic live theater. This attracted some eateries to the neighborhood. Over the last decade the district has seen extensive commercial expansion, with private companies doing both building and renovation. There's a lot of foot traffic in this part of Cedar Falls, and more and more women come here from other towns to shop.

It's easy to do business here, and retailers with different products that can make an inroad are really welcome. Before we opened the store, the small business center helped us create a business plan and do research to find our target market. Now we get tremendous support from Community Main Street, a national organization that fosters development of historic communities. Many of us with stores here believe this real estate development bodes well for retail. -Coeli Carr

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