ALTA -- In August 2011, Cindy Pedersen bought an old train passenger car and depot without hesitation because she knew exactly how to put it to use.
Fun is exactly what is being brought to Alta's downtown and Highway 7. At the end of the summer, The Hoodlebug will open.
A "hoodlebug" is slang for a small passenger train car. Pedersen and her family bought an old train car and depot and are in the process of completely refurbishing the car into a 5-business store. The five-service business will have a bistro, gift shop, event planning, and wedding rentals available. The numerous items and services provided by The Hoodlebug will serve Alta and surrounding communities.
The old train car will not only provide good services, but also be a feast for the eyes. Pedersen and her husband are completely re-modeling the inside of the car.
"Without giving too much away," Pedersen described what the end product will look like. "The finished product will have tin ceilings, a coffee counter from an old general store, another counter from the old cobble stone from the historical part of Storm Lake, lights made by an area artist, and stain glass windows. My daughter, an artist, is doing the artwork on the tables."
Pedersen, a wife and mother of two, has been in the food service business for 30 years. She currently manages the food service for the Storm Lake Schools. She has always dreamed of having her own coffee/bistro business. Her supportive family encouraged her to follow her dream, and that is just what she did. After networking with existing store owners across Iowa, she has learned what does and does not work.
For Pedersen, the most enjoyable aspect about the process has been the continual family support she receives while she follows her dream.
"Working together on this has allowed me to reconnect with my niece, who will be the store's manager, and because we are doing most of the work ourselves, it has definitely been a family adventure," Pedersen said.
A day in the life of Pedersen consists of searching for unique items on the internet that cannot be found in the area, as well as working on finishing up the train car and depot.
"There is a lot of enthusiasm for The Hoodlebug to be open. I get asked all the time, 'when is it going to open?' and I promise them it will open in the late summer," she explained.
For some residents, the end of the summer cannot come soon enough. As Pedersen works the rest of the summer on the Hoodlebug, the rest of Alta will be patiently waiting.
"We hope people will come out and enjoy being there once it opens." Pedersen said.
She added, "For young entrepreneurs out there, if you have a dream, go for it. Yes, there will be a few negative people out there, but for the most part, people will really support you."
Being her own boss, Pedersen has the freedom to work when she wants, and make the choices on her own. She is excited for her business to open because she is excited to always make her customers happy and be as accommodating as she can. The Iowa Lakes Corridor has helped Pedersen with her initial business plan, helping her understand financially what was feasible and what was not. Contacting the corridor was one of the first steps she did before diving into the process. She plans on keeping continual contact with the Corridor through the opening and running of her store.
* The Iowa Lakes Corridor has an Entrepreneur Networking group called Club E. Business owners meet the first Monday of every month to share ideas, challenges, successes, and grow professional relationships. Those interested in attending should contact Brian Dalziel at the Corridor office at 264-3474 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Entrepreneurs throughout the Corridor region are encouraged to attend.