1. Two storefronts became Oelwein Ace Hardware
Les Fink completely remodeled two storefronts at 20 and 22 N. Frederick before in 1991 moving his Hardware Hank into the space and renaming it Oelwein Ace Hardware, which today is owned by his son, Joe. The space had formerly been the home of Ben Franklin and Woolworth's.
The Hardware Hank had opened in 1986 in the former Snyder drugstore down the block at 30 N. Frederick Ave. The new location, which had formerly been the home of Ben Franklin and Woolworth's stores, was larger and had a loading dock.
2. CITY Laundering federally essential
As the COVID-19 pandemic response was ramping up in March, federal, state and local governments labeled Oelwein-based CITY Laundering Co., which launders work clothing and more, as an “essential supplier" to the life-sustaining and critical businesses of food processing and agriculture; energy production; critical manufacturing; and public utilities, including water and waste water treatment.
3. From water to cash
Community Bank of Oelwein opened in 1998 in the building that formerly was home to a Culligan store. In 2015, the bank doubled the size of the building.
4. Angelia still feeding Oelwein
Frank and Angelina Leo opened Leo's Grocery in 1922 on the west side of Oelwein. Angelina's recipes for Italian bread, sausage, meatballs and spaghetti sauce are still used by the family business Leo's Italian Restaurant and Generations Lounge.
5. Haunting on 1st Street
When the dance studio next door to Merle's Auto Service moved to a new location in 2019, it's former home became haunted. Merle's owner Anthony Bamford spearheaded the creation of of a haunted house in the storefront for Halloween with the help of his staff and community volunteers. Merle's is at 113 1st St. SW, Oelwein.
6. Started in a garage
General contractor Andrew Miller founded Miller Construction Inc. a dozen years ago in a one-stall garage on the west side of Oelwein. Business growth through word of mouth pushed Miller to expand his space. Nine years ago, the former Plumb Supply building opened up. Two years ago, the former Suckow Construction building north of Hazleton became available.
7. Building a lot of modern Fairbank
Fairbank-based Woods Construction in 2015-2016 constructed the three-unit commercial center on Fourth Street, which includes the Visions Salon, Fairbank Chiropractic and Lord of the Harvest Church. It built the Northeast Security Bank on Main Street and Immaculate Conception Parish Center on Iowa Street in 2016-2017, and the Myers Polaris warehouse beside the showroom, in 2018-2019.
8. 30 years of home decor
Furniture Showcase, at 9 20th St. SE, marked 30 years in business in March. It opened its doors in 1990 at the present location under the ownership of Sheila and Tom Neuhaus. Their daughter Rachel Bachman joined the business in 2004 and became the second generation owner on Jan. 1, 2015, with Sheila continuing to work in the store as a designer.
9. Special floor for dancing
Northeast Iowa Dance Academy at the southern end of Oelwein had special floors installed to accommodate the jumping, tapping, leaping and acrobatic movements of dance that cannot be achieved on a concrete floor. Dance instruction requires flooring with a certain amount of shock absorption, which is in the composition of Marley flooring. The multi-layered surface consists of basket-weave and foam floating sub-floors.
10.Started in the basement, now taps the sun
Ken and Deb Irvine started their electrical business out of the basement of their home in Hazleton in 1983, with one truck and attention to detail and customer service. It didn’t take long for his business to take hold and grow. As he worked to grow his business, Ken’s son Brian worked alongside him, learning the business that he would eventually buy.
Ken’s Electric expanded to a new location at 841 First Ave. S.E. in Oelwein several years ago. Services have also grown with the times and include 24-hour emergency service, solar installation, geothermal, electrical, heating/cooling and radiant floor heat.