The Market Place in Manning offers a variety of coffee drinks, tea, smoothies and baked goods for visitors.
The Market Place in Manning offers a variety of coffee drinks, tea, smoothies and baked goods for visitors.

September 29, 2015

MANNING

Near the entrance of the The Market Place, a scrawled message on a small chalkboard reads: “I love you more than coffee, but not always before coffee.”

The combination coffee shop and retail space, owned by Jaime England, will provide the needed caffeine — but it doesn’t stop there.

The Market Place, which opened in Manning in July, fills several needs for the community. It offers a coffee shop with a casual, inviting atmosphere — and free Wi-Fi — for those who want to sit down and chat or work. And its eclectic home-decor and gift store fills a gap in the city’s retail dearth.

The business’s name caters to its marketplace essence of buying, selling and trading between vendors and customers. About 30 vendors rent space in the store and provide items ranging from clothing and furniture to chalk paint and greeting cards.

Near one window, an antique sewing machine rests.

Atop a rustic bed for sale rests a pillow imprinted with a salute: “Oh hey, handsome.”

Nearby, on a shelf next to colorful clothes, a sign reads, “Life is too short for boring clothes.”

Other areas in the store are filled with knitted items, dishes, jewelry, signs, kids’ games, books and puzzles, and more. Home decor is a running theme. Furniture for sale is also sprinkled throughout the store — some pieces handmade, and others that provide refinishing projects for customers.

And the first thing customers find when they walk in the door is the coffee-shop corner that sells drip coffee and espresso drinks — including a pumpkin spice latte for fall — as well as tea, caffeine-free drinks and smoothies. It also offers fresh baked goods and ready-to-eat snacks, such as yogurt and string cheese.

The store is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

England’s business fills a large space that had been vacant for two years; it previously housed the Duckwall Variety Store.

Located in a prominent, visible corner spot on Main Street, the store has the largest glass storefront in Manning.

“Most other stores are about half the width,” England said of the 6,000-square-foot building with its open, glass-lined front. “I love all the windows.”

The building burned down and was rebuilt in the 1930s. Even now, it includes pieces of history. The orange clay tile featured on one end of the store, whose pieces date back to the 1920s, came from the hospital in Manning that was recently taken down. The green-and-black marbled countertop at the front counter is from the building’s original facade, and several of the carts and shelves displaying items for sale are from the building’s 1970s department-store days.

England, who grew up in Manning and graduated in 2001, is the perfect person to start a business in the city, said Main Street Manning Board President Ron Reischl. Main Street played a large role in the start of England’s business.

“Our natural target for people moving to Manning are alumni — people who have a special place for Manning in their heart,” he said.

England served in the National Guard during and after high school, for a total of nine years. She studied at Iowa State University, first choosing interior design as a major.

“But I can’t sit at a desk, and I can’t draw,” she joked.

So, during a 16-month deployment to Kuwait, she re-thought the decision — she had a lot of time to think, she recalled. When she returned, she changed her undergraduate focus to pre-physical therapy and psychology before attending Des Moines University for graduate school. She is now a licensed physical therapist and plans to keep her license current, even as she runs The Market Place. She spent some time in Des Moines and Ankeny before returning to Manning.

With Jaime’s family in the area — mother Rexanne Struve owns Veterinary Associates of Manning and Struve Labs — and husband Ben from Audubon, the Englands knew they wanted to return to the area to raise their kids. They have two sons, 2-year-old Cash and 3-year-old Bode. Ben England works as a purchasing agent for Puck Custom Enterprises.

And the idea of opening a business kept coming up, until one day, Jaime England crawled up into the framed-in ceiling of what had used to be the Duckwall Variety Store and discovered industrial-style metal beams.

“I probably smiled for three days because of what was in there,” she recalled. “I like different.”

Now, the beams are uncovered, complementing the brick walls. Remodeling the space took a lot of time and sweat, England said.

The coffee shop and variety retail options seemed to go perfectly together.

“It’s something Manning didn’t have,” she said.

Main Street Manning obtained a Challenge Grant through the Iowa Economic Development Authority that helped with renovations; the Manning Betterment Foundation sold the building to England and the City of Manning provided a business loans, both under “terms she couldn’t refuse,” Reischl said. Main Street also sponsored England at a Main Street Iowa competition, Open 4 Business.

“It’s typical of the collaborative environment in Manning,” Reischl said.

Early on, England traveled to Sioux City to learn how to make coffee drinks and went through the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center’s Venture School, geared toward those starting up new businesses, with Main Street Manning’s assistance.

“Manning, as a whole, is trying to bring more traffic to Manning,” England said. “This adds to it.”

The store offers a casual atmosphere, and England wants visiting The Market Place to be an experience.

“I have a rustic, farmhouse, casual, eclectic kind of style,” England said.

And it shows in the store.

“People like to see antiques mixed in; it reminds them of their grandma, or their childhood,” she said.

The Market Place is also beginning to introduce classes — chalk painting and canvas painting, to start. Down the road, offerings might also include photography, card-making or crafts.

The store, open for several months now, is seeing early success in part because of the support of other Manning businesses, England said. Visitors to the local café, nursing home or pharmacy get the same message — go check out The Market Place while you’re here.

“It’s a store that’s enticing to out-of-town shoppers also,” Reischl said.

And the referrals don’t surprise England.

“I knew the town,” she said. “Everyone is supportive of new businesses and alumni.

“I wouldn’t have done this anywhere else.”