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Our Town Waukon - Business Runs in the Family

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WAUKON - The northeast Iowa community is home to two businesses with customers across the country. Both credit their success to their start in Our Town Waukon.

Driving through downtown, one attracts attention with its shiny look and the other, with pictures of cows. Step inside Elliott Jewelers, and you'll find jewelry for every taste and budget.

"If they want a watch for $20 we got it, want one for $600, we have it," said Dick Elliott, Elliott Jewelers.

And if they don't have it in their cases, customers can help design their own jewelry. The Elliott family is open to every idea. It's been their philosophy from the start.

"My dad started the business in 1961," said Elliott.

Since then, things have changed a lot. A new building, new machines, and now new owners. A few years ago, Dick Elliott's son John and daughter-in-law Shelly took over. But it still takes the entire family to keep up with business.

"We figured a 100 mile radius from Waukon is our trade area," said John Elliott.

Customers come from all over because the Elliotts do everything in house, like make, fix, and even engrave jewelry. A few doors down, another Waukon store shares the same family approach to business.

"We are here because my grandfather's grandfather built this building in the 1920s," said Valerie Miller, artist.

Now Valerie Miller and her husband Josh, have turned the building into a gallery and studio called the steel cow. A steel cow?

"That's the question everyone wants to know," said Valerie Miller.

And the answer makes sense. Everything you see here, this couple created. Valerie paints pictures of cows.

"I go out to the fields meet them, sketch them, draw a bit, take photos, come back, and do the painting of the cow," said Valerie Miller.

And Josh designs and builds furniture.

"I grew up around woodworking, my father was a master cabinet maker, so it's just kind of grown into a career," said Joshua Miller, cabinet maker.

Together, they've built a business with world-wide appeal. Both say Waukon gave them their successful start.

"If you can make it work in a small town, you can make it work anywhere," said Joshua Miller.

And the Elliott family agrees.