In February 2020, Melissa Kuhn-Schmidt opened The Fertile Market in Fertile, offering a wide variety of products to local communities.
Joined with business partner Michelle Versteeg, the two run the small shop, along with the help of a few others.
Kuhn-Schmidt and Versteeg believe their store is unique because of its wide variety of products ranging from vintage to new, candy to alcohol and more. The two also try to buy products locally, and if that is not possible, they look to purchase within the Midwest.
The partners make a point to constantly buy new products, ensuring new products are in the store every day. They order items in small quantities to keep the store fresh with new and unique stock.
“People love the novelty of some of it,” Versteeg said. “If we find something and it’s really quirky, we buy it because we know we will sell it.”
The closest general store options to Fertile are Forest City and Clear Lake, so the team bought the building next door and plan to expand the shop, opening the opportunity for a general store.
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Along with the store, the owners hope to expand the deck at the back of the building, allowing the store to host more activities, such as live music, karaoke, and yoga.
Despite the store opening just a month before the pandemic, The Fertile Market made its way through, relying on regular customers who quickly took to the store. Khun-Schmidt and Versteeg implemented curbside pick-up to stay running and are looking into making a website to sell their products in case of another shutdown.
“I feel like we were really blessed,” Versteeg said. “People were really looking forward to the store opening, and so we got lots of people in here that became really loyal customers. Through the pandemic, they were wanting to buy, wanting to help.”
“We just really enjoy what we do,” Kuhn-Schmidt said. “It’s a dream of mine to do this, and I love every minute of it.”