GOLDFIELD - With a population of just more than 600, Goldfield is one of the smaller communities in Wright County, yet it remains a center for economic development, job creation and unique specialty shops.
"You can just mention Goldfield, Iowa, and so many people think right away of the Cheese Mart," said Sandi Gangstead, owner of the well-known specialty cheese shop located on Iowa Highway 3 in Goldfield and president of the town's commercial club. "They know that because we have been here forever. We get customers from all over, and have Internet business that ships all over the country, I've probably shipped to all 50 states; we even sent our first package of cheese to someone serving in Kuwait this year."
Gangstead's shop offers a large variety of specialty cheeses, wines, gifts, and locally and Iowa- produced items such as jams, honey and sorghum.
-Messenger photo by Emilie Nelson-Jenson
Julie Eekhoff shows some of the selection of colors of thread available at the Honey Barn, a speciality quilt shop in Goldfield.
"We have the cheeses and wines," said Gangstead. "I make the goodies: cookies, bars, cinnamon rolls."
Gangstead's shop serves as a gathering place for the community besides being a retail shop.
"We get the morning and afternoon coffee bunch every day,"she said. "And we have noon lunches; a lot of days it's a full house."
Another Goldfield business which continues to draw customers from throughout the region and state is the Honey Barn, a quilt and fabric shop located in a historic World War II-era barn on the west side of town that was once used for honey production.
"They used to have bees here," said Honey Barn employee Julie Eekhoff. "We tried to keep the barn look as authentic as possible. One interesting thing is part of the floor used to be sloped in here, that was the old ramp that the trucks would back up to."
The Honey Barn offers thousands of colors and patterns of fabrics and colors of threads for quilting, and has drawn a large customer base in its nearly six years of business.
"We have a great inventory for a shop in a community this size," said Eekhoff. "Our inventory is changing all the time, which you might not get in some of the larger fabric shops."
The Honey Barn has grown its customer base by participating in "shop hops" and through an email newsletter which goes out to customers in Iowa and surrounding states.
"Our newsletter goes out to customers in Nebraska, Illinois, Minnesota, South Dakota; it's sent all over, that's what the shop hops do for us," Eekhoff said. "They have given us great exposure."
The Honey Barn is owned by Melinda Peterson, and has a staff of four employees who each work one day out of the week.
"Each of us employees has our own specialty," said Eekhoff. "One of us does the piecing, I do long-arm quilting, we have someone who does the knitting and another who does embroidery."
Goldfield continues to be a center of development for the agricultural industry with Corn LP, an ethanol plant; Gold Eagle Cooperative and a new poultry production plant expected to open in the spring.
The Lexinton, Ga.-based Centurion Poultry is in the process of constructing a 35,000-square-foot production facility east of Goldfield on Iowa Highway 3 which will have the capability to produce 18 million chicks per year.
"Centurion Poultry is going to be a great thing for Goldfield,"said City Clerk Barb Jergenson. "They had a job fair in September and will be hiring several people."
Jergenson said the housing market in Goldfield has been strong.
"There's only a few houses left in town to sell," she said. "That is a good thing for us. One home I know of sold in two days and some others just by word alone."
"People are looking for housing," said Gangstead. "There is a demand for that here."
Both Jergenson and Gangstead said they are proud of the community.
"It's a nice quiet town," said Jergenson. "Very friendly."
"I love the town," Gangstead said. "The people are fabulous. We're all like one big family. It's nice to know no matter what someone here has always got your back."