By Megan Bannister
Amongst the cities and the cornfields, the rambling highways and the rolling hills, Iowa is full of hidden gems. You just need to know where to look.
That’s why we took to its small towns and back roads to explore some of the cutest small shops and must-visit Main Streets across the state. In every corner of Iowa, small businesses and local champions are joining forces to create stronger communities. And one of our favorite ways to explore those terrific towns and dreamy destinations is through a little retail therapy.
So plan a weekend getaway, hop in the car, and set course for some of these incredible shops. Discover destinations both big and small where you can use your shopping to support small Iowa businesses.
1. Ed & Eva's
154 Public Square Suite B, Greenfield
If Iowa-themed gifts are what you’re after, look no further than Greenfield's Ed & Eva’s. With items made by more than 100 Iowa artists, there are all sorts of treasures to discover just off the town square.
The shop is housed in the historic Greenfield Opera House, a beautiful brick building which opened in 1896. The ground floor retail space was long home to the Warren Dry Goods Company, and the shop has since been renamed in honor of the building’s original owners, Ed and Eva Warren. As an additional nod to its history, Ed & Eva’s sells beautiful jewelry made from the original copper salvaged from the turret’s dome during the building’s renovation.
618 7th St., Fort Madison
Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, the Hesse Marketplace building is an unsung hero of downtown Fort Madison. In the summer of 2017, small businesses breathed new life into this historic space through an eclectic collection of shops and eateries.
Visit Harvestville Farm Mercantile to do some shopping and discover beautifully rustic inspiration for your home, diet, and daily life. Opened as an extension of the nearby Harvestville Farm, the shop features everything from home decor to fresh produce and locally sourced products.
While the northwest Iowa town of Holstein may not be on everyone’s radar, this unlikely shopping destination is full of charming places to spend an afternoon browsing. Visit rehabd to discover an incredible array of vintage, salvaged, and handmade home decor items. Then pop into the Rooted Boutique to shop the latest in women’s fashions. Still missing something from your shopping experience? Just like its name suggests Spirits, Stogies & Stuff sells wine and liquor, premium cigars, and gifts. In addition to its other offerings, the shop is also a full-service florist.
321 Main St., Manning
The Market Place in Manning opened in 2015 as a combined retail space and coffee shop, and remains one of the region’s true hidden gems. That being said, the shop’s storefront itself is hard to miss. The Market Place is the largest glass storefront in Manning with more than 6,000 square feet of retail space. With wares from more than 80 vendors, this shop offers a diverse array of handmade decor, furniture, jewelry, apparel, and more.
5. The Markket
200 N Locust St. #4, Edgewood
The Markket in Edgewood grew out of Kendrick, Inc., a family-owned lumber company that began in 1983 with a logging and sawmill operation. The company has since expanded to include custom cabinetry, furniture making, and an incredible two-story retail space.
Opened in June of 2017, The Markket is located in one end of the company’s 36,000-square-foot cabinet manufacturing plant. The shop features a variety of home decor, including their huge line of trendy wooden signs, furniture, lighting, and more. If you’re obsessed with farm sinks and shiplap, you’ll be happy to know that The Markket also carries HGTV star Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Home line of furniture, paint, and accessories.
6. Mount Vernon
Located about half an hour east of Cedar Rapids, Mount Vernon is home to a charming historic shopping district that is sure to surprise and delight. Snail mail lovers will swoon over the stationary at Iron Leaf Press. Choose a cute card or two, pick out the perfect pen, or commission your own letterpress design. Grab a coffee at fuel art and espresso to add energy to your shopping experience. Don’t miss the shop’s impressive array of greeting cards, gifts, and local art.
Tumble down a rabbit hole into Alice’s Wonderland, an 1860s home converted into a cozy shop featuring repurposed furniture, home decor, craft supplies, vintage clothing, and more. Wander the old-school shops at the First Street Community Center, where Helios Stitches 'n Stuff showcases community artists. End your day with a sweet treat like shortbread from the Perfect Blend Gift Shop or tempting chocolates from Mount Vernon Confections.
7. Paper Moon
206 A St., McGregor
Built into the bluffs of the Mississippi River, Paper Moon in McGregor is a serene escape for bookworms of all ages. Paper Moon is three stories of witty gifts, thoughtfully chosen books, and other novelty items that inspire a sense of wonder and delight. Start on the first floor for cards and housewares before moving on to the second floor for a handpicked selection of both fiction and non-fiction books. The sprawling third floor is occupied by all sorts of children’s books and games, many of which have an educational component. The shop’s staff—and cats—couldn’t be friendlier, and it’s easy to lose hours exploring every carefully categorized nook and cranny.
128 Broad St., Humeston
Established in 1949, Snyder’s in Humeston, Iowa, has served as an old-fashioned variety store for almost 70 years. The shop features a wide variety of items from clothing and accessories to kitchen gadgets and seasonal decor. Don’t forget to make a stop at Roony's Coffee, Espresso & More for a caffeine boost, or pop in to the nearby Grass Roots Cafe to shop for local art and enjoy a homemade cinnamon roll.
9. St. Ansgar
In the small north central Iowa town of St. Ansgar you’ll find shops that teem with style and selection. Located in a restored 1872 mercantile building, Home Sweet Home offers almost 6,000-square-feet of shopping space dedicated to home furnishings, clothing, and environmentally conscious products. Before its role as a retail destination, the historic building served the community of St. Ansgar as a harness and leather repair shop as well as a barber shop. Satisfy your urge to shop and your sweet tooth at the same time at Thymeless Treasures. This rustic chic shop features home decor and garden accessories as well as Iowa-made wines and chocolates.
Produced by Megan Bannister from Olio in Iowa