BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A funky cowgirl in Fort Madison with more than 100,000 Facebook followers, and the restored Fox Theater in Fort Madison were honored Thursday morning as part of national Small Business Appreciation Week.
The annual Small Business Breakfast put on by the Fort Madison Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Huffman Welding & Mfg and Huffman Farm & Home, at Quality Inn & Suites was well attended by more than 100 people.
Chris Swed, of the Fox Theater at 831 Avenue G in downtown Fort Madison, was honored with annual Small Business of the Year Award.
“Thank you so much to everyone who’s come down to see a movie, if you haven’t, I’m shaming you into coming on down,” Swed said.
“My wife and I are so glad to be in this community, she’s from here, but I’ve truly come to know Fort Madison as our home and I couldn’t think of a better place to call our home and raise our daughter,” Swed said.
Swed has been part of the Fox Theater since it was rebranded and reopened in March of 2017. The Theater has two sections showing two box-office powerhouse movies throughout the week and is regularly involved in charitable giving allowing non-profit groups to build events around showings. He also runs an independent coffee company Swed & Co. Coffee from the location.
An excerpt from the nomination submitted for the Theater said it’s quickly become a focal point of the downtown district.
“Upon taking ownership, major renovations started happening to ensure the building was ready for the patrons. They have done a fantastic job of keeping this business a success by showing the latest cinema with affordable fare and concessions. The managers have played an active role in the downtown district improvement discussions and has opened up his coffee business to contribute to downtown events.”
Other nominees for the award included Kathy, Adam and Julie Hohl of Harvestville Farms, and Chase and Jennifer Gibb of Buffalo61 Bar and Grille.
Darla Farrell, owner of The Funky Cowgirl at 707 Avenue G in Fort Madison was honored with the MicroBusiness of the Year.
Farrell has a tremendous social media following with several facilities in Iowa and other states and has a large online sales following, as well as a mobile boutique.
Farrell said she loves Fort Madison’s downtown and believes in the future of the district.
“I want to thank you for supporting me in this community. I just want you to know that I love downtown Fort Madison and that’s why I get involved in so many things down there,” Farrell said.
She said one of the newest events downtown is the Downtown Summer Market that’s being created with more than 50 vendors that will be in the downtown area on Thursdays this summer.
As part of her nomination, Farrell was noted for restoring her building and being a part of the district more than 15 years.
“As a downtown property owner, this person has restored their building to its original beauty. This boutique has been a staple in Fort Madison since 2003 and travels throughout the Midwest with a large mobile boutique on wheels. The boutique has been a vendor at the Tri-State Rodeo for 10 years and has quite the following with a huge online presence and over 100,000 followers on Facebook. The owner has participated quite a bit in downtown and community activities having served as the Vice President of Fort Madison Main Street, past chairs for many events, and makes contributions to a variety of charities and events.”
Other nominees included Dodd Printing & Stationery and Pen City Current.