America’s SBDC Iowa is an outreach program of Iowa State University’s Ivy College of Business and the Office of Economic Development and Industry Relations. Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Fiddle Dee Dee, Keota
When Keota native Lori Hammes grew tired of hauling, loading, and storing the items she took to shows, she sought a solution to continue selling her handmade items without the stress of transporting them between shows.
Lori first started Fiddle Dee Dee as a side operation out of a house in the country before deciding to rent a storefront location in Keota. In addition to selling vintage, repurposed, and handmade décor, Fiddle Dee Dee began offering classes to the public and hosting a maker space for those interested to come in and make their own items. The maker space allows people to come in and make a variety of things, ranging from cards to quilts.
Offering such programs positioned Fiddle Dee Dee as not just another store but a space for the community to congregate. “I love having a small business in my small little Iowa hometown. Small towns get overlooked a lot; there is so much more there than people think,” Lori said in an interview, “I love the people and my customers, and I try to make everyone feel welcome. I try to offer different things you cannot find just anywhere else.”
Everything was going smoothly until one unfortunate day in 2020. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Fiddle Dee Dee’s retail location was struck by a pickup truck, forcing Lori and her husband to pack everything up and remove it from that location. With so many moves, being able to purchase a building proved to be one of the most triumphant days to date for Lori as a business owner. “I no longer have to rent unless I choose to,” Lori stated, “I never have to move anything again unless I want to.”
Today, Fiddle Dee Dee remains a community cornerstone in Keota and surrounding areas. Lori serves in multiple community organizations and is currently president of the Keota community club, which organizes the Keota Fun Days and other community events. As a business owner, Lori focuses on tying the community to her business, providing events and spaces for the town to enjoy. Recently, Lori entered into a partnership with a friend who owns a coffee shop in a neighboring town to host a second location within Fiddle Dee Dee’s retail location. Offering a space for people to hang out has been a large source of pride for Lori as she uses her business to be an outreach to the community.
The journey to where Fiddle Dee Dee is now was not easy, but Lori has had a lot of assistance. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Lori advises those looking to start a business, “Everyone has been through what you are going through in one way or another. Use the resources that are already out there!” Along the way, Small Business Development Center was always there to support Lori in her journey. “It’s hard to differentiate between counselor and friend,” Lori said about her relationship with Small Business Development Center Regional Director Kelly Prickett. When reflecting on the assistance provided, Lori stated: “The experience working with Small Business Development Center has been nothing short of wonderful and helpful. I think Small Business Development Center is a hidden gem; it doesn’t get the notoriety it deserves and is underutilized. Anyone who needs advice, I encourage you to contact your local Small Business Development Center!”