Gate City Bank is proud to help support local small businesses in the places we call home. Small businesses are the lifeblood of main street economies and play a vital role in local communities.
Learn more about featured small business customers from the communities we serve. See how they have built their businesses, and how they continue to adapt to changing economic conditions.
If there’s anything Ashley Morken has learned during her eight years of owning Unglued in downtown Fargo, it’s that arts and crafts are in high demand. This is especially true in the time of COVID-19.
There’s something amazing about providing a creative outlet that brings people together, even if it’s done virtually. Unglued has become known for hosting fun arts and crafts workshops, which are often led by local artisans and attended by customers from all over the country.
Morken often thinks about how she left her job as a heart care nurse to start Unglued. While she will always cherish the positive impact she made in the health care field, her transition from cardiac to crafty has allowed her to give the community something it desperately needs – a healthy escape from stress.
“Small businesses like Unglued help define a community, grow the culture of that community and give people a sense of home and place,” Morken says. “Unglued gives people a creative platform who otherwise wouldn’t have one, connecting them with the community through fun events.”
Since 2013, Lily’s Wings, Burgers & Things owners Kelli and Steve Ehlen have worked tirelessly to perfect their formula for culinary quality and efficiency. It consists of original recipes, local ingredients and a flaming desire to improve the well-being of their customers.
Like so many other business ventures, their restaurant located in St. Cloud, MN, started off small, having the capacity to serve one customer at a time. However, it persevered and grew in service capacity, quickly becoming a community icon known for not compromising quality or customer happiness.
The restaurant had begun pursuing a virtual ordering approach well before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. And during a difficult time when the community has craved the taste of normal, of happiness, of a delicious home-cooked meal, Lily’s Wings, Burgers & Things has served up plates of goodness.
“Small businesses are the economic engine of every community,” say Kelli and Steve. “We’re very grateful to have grown exponentially, thanks to forward thinking and a love for community – especially in these difficult times.”
The secret ingredient to the success of Prairie Sky Breads isn’t necessarily its locally based sourcing, creative recipes or rotating menu. It’s a dash of love in every dish, for every customer – since 2014.
After quietly entering the local farmers’ market scene, Prairie Sky Breads grew into a very successful business, quickly gaining a strong following in Minot, ND. Why? It’s fed the community with warm, delicious and affordable meals throughout COVID-19, and well before that.
Amid the pandemic, Prairie Sky Breads has offered one-dollar lunches to individuals or families who have felt the strain of unemployment, distance learning and other challenges. It’s a business model based on offering something as simple as a home-cooked meal to those who are hurting.
“We have a slightly different perspective on what it means to own and run a business,” says Travis Gerjets, Prairie Sky Breads Baker and Co-owner. “It’s about community engagement, and we are truly part of a great community.”
Loving pet owners and furry little friends deserve to be together. That’s what Circle of Friends Animal Shelter believes, and it’s what the business fights for daily in Grand Forks, ND, and the surrounding area.
Whether it’s promoting pet-based food pantries, play groups or mental health services, Circle of Friends differentiates itself by fetching opportunities to create a better way of life in its surrounding communities. There’s beauty in uniting people with animals – especially when both are in great need.
For example, did you know Circle of Friends partners with Meals on Wheels? Many might be surprised to learn that clients for this charitable organization often share donated food with their also-hungry pets. Circle of Friends also assists in situations where pets have a unique medical need.
“Behind every pet is a person,” says Lauralee Tupa, CEO of Circle of Friends. “We’re here to listen, learn and grow to support these human-animal bonds.”
What could be better than playing vintage video games with your closest friends? How about pressing pause to snag a slice of award-winning New York-style pizza after hitting the high score?
This unique experience can be found at The CraftCade, a trendy restaurant and arcade that’s plugged into downtown Bismarck, ND. For the past year and a half, this small business has been a hotspot for customers who are feeling hungry, thirsty and nostalgic.
Of course, like many other small businesses, the rules of the game changed for CraftCade when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. However, The CraftCade adapted by practicing social distancing, encouraging face masks and cleaning gaming devices and other surfaces – all so customers can continue to play.
“Without small businesses, much of the money that people spend would leave the community and state,” say Co-owners Colton Shoults and Nick Schwieters. “Small businesses like ours not only allow a community to exist, but to be a place where people can escape stresses of the real world to have fun.”
Angie Seidel has always had a passion for designing clothing. When she opened her own apparel business, GET OUTSIDE, she immediately knew it was the perfect fit.
Based out of Sauk Centre, MN, the GET OUTSIDE brand has become available in over 15 stores, including SCHEELS stores in the Minnesota communities of St. Cloud, Eden Prairie, Rochester and Mankato, as well as the SCHEELS location in Minot, ND. GET OUTSIDE is also available at other stores in St. Cloud and Alexandria, MN. It also has a strong online presence, which has been steady amid COVID-19.
This small business’s unique-yet-simple designs have proven to be incredibly popular. Its playful patterns and messages encourage community members to get out and do a number of activities, such as “G.O. Jump in a Lake,” “G.O. Explore” and “G.O. Fly a Kite.” It’s a fun schtick, and it’s taken off.
“Now more than ever, the importance of enjoying the outdoors and taking in all it has to offer is so important,” says Seidel, who’s owned GET OUTSIDE for a year and a half. “Small businesses like this are important because they inspire growth, innovation and creativity in communities.”