That Iowa Girl Celebrates First Year

Left to right: Miller, Johnson, and Moore

Fitting for a weekend of local pride, Festival in the Park marks the first anniversary of That Iowa Girl, Clarion’s own shop for regional foods.

“I think what a lot of our producers pride their products on is not being filled with preservatives and junk,” said Colette Johnson, owner. “Even things that are ‘naughty’ like our cheeses are filled with natural stuff. I think people are going back to stuff produced locally, where they can pronounce the ingredients.”

Johnson founded That Iowa Girl last year, employing her son Phillip – who picks up and delivers Iowa products throughout the state – and Mary Miller and Kathy Moore, who work in the shop itself, which was converted into a store from a gas station. The shelves orderly display a variety of delicious-looking products, while presently, in the back, a new five-door freezer is under construction.

Moore said she joined the staff when she “just fell in love with the store and the whole concept of Iowa-made products.” The majority of That Iowa Girl’s wares are produced in-state, reflecting a broad range of global inspirations, including Mexican salsas, Greek yogurt, hummus, and Belgian-style beers. A few others are made in the greater Midwest, and still others have Iowa ties: the Alaska-caught salmon is distributed by what Johnson calls a “born and raised” Iowan. The top-selling foods at the stores remain common staples: milk, fresh produce, brats, and chips.

Johnson says the challenge for local producers is getting their products “out there in a large enough quantity to make it worthwhile.” She said she found most of the foods she sells through “somebody who knows somebody that makes such and such. We are getting to the point now that we’re well enough known to be getting calls from companies. I still love to find something new and different.”

Read more about “That Iowa Girl” in in the June 12 issue of the Monitor!