Biz Buzz: Longtime Manchester shop closing; boutique moves to Maquoketa; Lancaster studio finds new home

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Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from around the tri-states each Tuesday. This week, we highlight developments from Manchester, Iowa; Maquoketa, Iowa; and Lancaster, Wis.

A longtime Manchester floral and gift shop soon will close its doors, marking the end of a 17-year run for the business.

Sarah’s Flowers & Gifts, 102 Legion St., plans to close permanently on Sept. 10, according to owner Sarah Taylor. The business first opened at 953 E. Main St. in April 2004 and relocated to a larger facility across town about nine years later.

“When I started off, I was a very young entrepreneur,” Taylor recalled. “It is hard to believe 17 years have passed. It doesn’t seem like that long.”

To start the business, Taylor drew inspiration from each of her parents: Her father was a successful local business owner, while her mother was an avid crafter. Flowers have always been at the core of the business and, over the years, the operation continued to expand its selection of gift items.

Noting that the job has been demanding from the start, Taylor said the time was right to step away.

“This is a six or seven-day per week job. It often requires a 60-hour work week,” she said. “It just felt like the right time to do something different.”

Taylor already has figured out what that “something” will be.

She is attending classes at Northeast Iowa Community College to learn more about marketing and digital media and ultimately hopes to start a company that helps small businesses in those areas.

Reflecting on the past 17 years, Taylor said she hopes her shop helped the broader, small business climate in town.

“One thing I’ve always been proud of is the way we’ve stressed shopping local and supporting small businesses,” she said. “Over the years, I think we helped draw in shoppers from places like Cedar Rapids and Dubuque and Waterloo, and we’ve always encouraged them to stop at other places in town.”

Sarah’s Flowers & Gifts can be reached at 563-927-8247.


A relocated boutique is breathing fresh life into Maquoketa thanks to a young entrepreneur.

The Humming Arrow opened its doors at 110 S. Main St. in Maquoketa last month, said owner Sadie Gravel.

The business specializes in selling women’s clothing, shoes and accessories.

Gravel worked for The Humming Arrow under its previous owner, Nicole Smith, who had operated the shop in Preston. When Smith decided to sell it, Gravel’s friends and family ultimately convinced her that she should take it over.

Gravel then decided to relocate the shop to Maquoketa — a decision that has paid off.

“This is a bigger community (than Preston) and there seems to be a lot more foot traffic here,” Gravel said. “I think people in Maquoketa are excited they have another retail option downtown.”

For Gravel, who works full-time as a personal banker, juggling her primary profession and her business can be a challenge. However, it’s one she is happy to meet head on.

“I am not the type of person who likes to sit around anyway,” she said. “I like to be kept busy.”

The Humming Arrow serves women of all ages, but specifically focuses on younger women in their 20s and 30s. Gravel emphasized that the business aims to be “body inclusive,” noting that the boutique sells clothing in a variety of sizes.

The Humming Arrow is open from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. The business can be reached at 563-513-7575.


One decade after opening a performing arts studio in her hometown, Lancaster native Brandi Dreher is preparing to move it to a new and improved location.

Brandi Dreher, owner of Gotta Dance, said the business will open its new facility, located at 206 S. Sheridan St., on Sept. 20.

The upcoming move marks a noteworthy step forward for a business that has been teaching performing arts in southwest Wisconsin since August 2011. Gotta Dance offers dance, piano and voice lessons and, in doing so, provides a service that Dreher believes is essential for local residents.

Dreher, who grew up in Lancaster, was drawn to music and dance during her childhood but recalls that she had to leave town to take lessons.

“I think it’s important that, for people who live in a small town and have interest in the performing arts, they have something in town that makes those things accessible,” she said.

With that goal in mind, Dreher opened Gotta Dance at 133½ W. Maple St. in Lancaster in August 2011. It has remained in that location ever since, growing by leaps and bounds over the years.

Dreher said her initial sign-up yielded about 30 students and that figure had grown to 75 by the following year. In recent years, the studio has as many as 150 students per season.

“We have people of all ages,” she said. “We give lessons to kids as young as 2 years old and our oldest students have been in their early 80s.”

After leasing her location for a decade, Dreher said it made sense to purchase the new location.

The new space will offer more parking than the current one, Dreher noted. Its ground-level access will also make things easier for handicapped or elderly students, who faced challenges accessing the second-story location on Maple Street.

Dreher noted that the current location will remain open until Aug. 31.

Gotta Dance can be reached at 608-379-2541. Residents can also learn more by visiting