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Our Town: Businesses in Downtown Cedar Falls find ways to thrive during pandemic

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 9:02 PM CDT
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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KCRG) - Along Cedar Falls’ Main Street, you’ll find Pepper Boutique. It’s a place to find affordable, trendy clothes. Maizy Guido opened it right after graduating from college.

“It was hectic. I had no idea what I was doing. Had to do everything with a loan and everything like that with the store, went to market, had to get the product,” Guido said.

As if that process wasn’t stressful enough, Maizy then had to face the pandemic. She shifted her entire store online. Her employees couldn’t come in. So she had to do everything on her own. While the process took a while, it benefited her business in the long run.

“Now my online business is thriving, so it kinda worked out,” she said. “It’s a blessing in disguise.”

Just a few steps away from Pepper Boutique is Cup of Joe. It’s been around for more than 25 years. At Cup of Joe, you can find a sweet treat, a great cup of coffee, and a place to relax.

“We’re all a little quirky,” said owner Dawn Wilson. “Everybody is welcome no matter who you are or what you do, what you look like.”

During the pandemic, Wilson also opened an online store. But she says it’s the community that’s stepped up, including a group of runners.

“They came up with a COVID race,” Wilson said. “There was like over 200 to 300 runners that could do it virtually, anywhere they wanted to. They bought gift certificates from us and that was a huge help.”

Wilson is glad to see her regular customers returning and some new faces, as well.

“The community was so wonderful because they didn’t want to see us close after 26 years, and they knew how hard it was,” Wilson said. “Seeing all of our patrons coming in; they’re not patrons...they’re family.”

Back at Pepper Boutique, Maizy Guido says it’s that support that makes Cedar Falls a great place to own a business.

“Everyone builds each other up, which is super, super important through a pandemic and just owning a small business in general,” she said.

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