BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A staple to the Fort Madison Main Street business district is back in her home with a few upgrades after a March storm caused major water damage to the building.
Brenda Derr, owner of Dollhouse Dreams at 820 Avenue G, has reopened her store front with the help of a lot of local contractors and wants to let everyone know she’s back.
In addition to having the store front reopened, Derr said she’s looking at doing some expanding of lines, including offering Lego brand toys.
“I was approved to sell Legos last month, but I’m still trying to decide if I want to do that,” Derr said Tuesday morning. “Typically, adding brands is just a credit application, but this one we had to send pictures of the store and everything. They were pretty picky. But I think it could be fun to have some Lego play nights like we do with the Melissa and Doug lines.”
She said the the building was basically gutted from top to bottom with all the water damage. All the electrical, heating and cooling, and woodwork and walls all had to be rebuilt.
“When you came in here you could see from the basement to the ceiling. They just gutted the whole thing,” she said.
During the remodeling, Derr moved her dollhouse and toy business to the building to the west at 824 Avenue G. She said the business suffered during the transition.
“I think people came by and saw the brown paper up on the windows and just thought we were dead. But we weren’t and here we are again,” she said.
As part of the transition, Derr has turned over the ice cream parlor to her daughter Megan Derr, who recently graduated from Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa with a culinary arts degree.
Megan will operate the space on a rental basis from her mother, but quickly went to work adding to the menu and putting her personal touch on the place.
Megan’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor now features coffee and other early morning treats as well as paninis and other luncheon options.
“This is her thing. She was ready to move on with her life and I said, ‘why don’t you do this and expand’ and she’s an excellent cook. So this is her baby. I think she will do awesome, we just need to get the momentum going again,” Brenda said.
Decked out the red and white symbolic of old fashioned ice cream parlors and complete with the soda fountain, toppings, and other confections, Derr is hoping to capitalize on some of the new energies being brought downtown by the theater and new business openings along Main Street.
“I just need some people in here,” Megan said.
Brenda said she wanted to thank all the local contractors, business neighbors, and everyone that helped her get back in her storefront and start serving customers again.
Dollhouse Dreams is open from 9 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and Megan’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
For more information contact the store at or online at www.dollhousedreams.com.