Editorial: Support your local small business


The ISD Editorial Board encourages Ames residents to support local businesses.

Editorial Board

Editor’s Note: Editorials are representative of the views of all Editorial Board members. One or two members will compile these views and write an editorial.

A community is a changing, complex organism. Each town has countless shared characteristics with any other. Ames has a police department, a library, a school, etc. Consider these as essential organs. However, what makes each location unique, significant and an all-around exciting place to be lies not in what it has in common with other places, but rather in what makes it stand out. Ames has a farmer’s market filled with products bearing handwritten labels, small cafes where they learn your first name and campus bars with Iowa State memorabilia on the walls. These entities enrich the community’s (or organism’s) personality.

The pandemic viciously attacked (and continues to attack) our communities and their economies. Daily signals of the virus like face masks and social distancing provided stark reminders of not just the virus’ potential damage to our bodies but to our communities as well. How can we sit down with our friends for a meal at a restaurant when we cannot sit down with our friends at all? The pandemic manages to even make something as murky as the U.S. economy seem personal. 

To make the economic impact of COVID-19 seem even more personal, unemployment tripled — from around 5 percent to 15 percent.  When one out of 10 working individuals in a community loses their job, everyone will know someone impacted by the economy.

With the road to economic recovery ahead and social distancing guidelines easing for vaccinated individuals, it is time to remember how deeply disconnected from our communities this crisis made us all feel and use it to restore the personality of Ames by supporting small businesses.

Prior to the pandemic, small businesses were serving the workforce of the United States with great force. According to the U.S. Small Business Association, in 2019, small businesses provided the American workforce with 1.8 million new jobs and employed just under half of all working Americans.

However, as with nearly all facets of American society, the COVID-19 pandemic wounded their economic contributions. A study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America surveyed over 5,000 small businesses. The survey found that approximately half of all small businesses had to halt operations during the pandemic, and 75 percent of small businesses did not have enough revenue to sustain a closure of greater than two months. 

The government response has attempted to mitigate the damage from the pandemic via paycheck protection programs, debt relief and emergency assistance. 

Last spring, the first round of government stimulus, known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, allotted 20 percent of its $2 trillion in expenses toward helping small businesses. Unfortunately, 70 percent of the $349 billion the U.S. Treasury allotted for paycheck protection went toward publicly traded companies. 

This year, $1.9 trillion was passed to invigorate the economy via the American Rescue Plan. However, this plan only put 2 percent of its allocation toward small businesses.  

If it happens that the government cannot sufficiently help keep the small businesses of our community afloat, it is our duty to keep them alive in one of the easiest and purist ways possible: by providing them business. It is with this in mind that the Editorial Board would like to tell you tales from several small shops in Ames. These are places that exist nowhere else in the world, and if they close, you will not be able to head one town over to see a different franchise or branch.

Everyone in our community should support small business. Ames has so many unique businesses, and supporting them is part of creating a connected community. Small businesses are the character of a community; Ames is no different. Support a small business today. 

Editorial board member Sarah Poyer is a proud patron of two Ames businesses: Heroic Hair for “AMAZING” hairstyling and spa services, and Heroic Ink for (again) “AMAZING” pierces and jewelry. She is quick to list off the names of the staff at both locations. The employees at both of these establishments consult with her, give her advice and make her feel comfortable. 

Editorial board member Jacob Mauren favors a relatively new book shop on Main Street, Dog-Eared Books. The shelves of the shop are filled with novels, old and new, but what makes this place unlike any other is that there are dozens of handwritten notes hanging below each shelf. Each employee of the shop has taken the time to personally write why they were enamored with a certain book for sale, and why they believe you should read it too. Mauren would also like to include that Dog-Eared Books provides a great place to study, a cafe and sometimes an encounter with the owner’s pet. (Yes, it’s a dog.)

Editorial board member Seth Pierce recommends Ames Silversmithing. Despite not even wearing jewelry himself, Pierce was struck by the expertise and educated salesmanship his friend received when shopping for an engagement ring at the Main Street shop. They handcrafted a ring for the hopeful boyfriend with “astounding” speed. Imagine watching someone make a ring for your wedding ceremony right before your eyes.

Lastly, I, Quinn Vandenberg, would like to say a word about the Lockwood Cafe toward the northwestern edge of Ames. After around two visits to Lockwood, the staff learned my first name, and they frequently talk to me as if I live next door. There is seating outside to eat a fresh-made crepe, sip coffee and watch trains travel on the nearby track. They often serve delicious, fresh-baked goods prepared by an immensely talented young woman named Denise using her own traditional recipes. If there is a place more homey than your living room, it is the Lockwood Cafe.

As much as these are endorsements, they are also highly personal experiences. Each encounter a board member had with one of these businesses left them with a warm, pleasurable experience that was unable to be shaken from their memory. 

Explore the places of Ames that provide so many amazing, unique moments, and while doing so, support local businesses.