COLFAX, Iowa — Small town business districts can tell you a lot about community. “The main street and downtown are a community’s heart and soul,” said Brad Magg, vice president of Colfax Main Street, which is an organization fundraising to revitalize and preserve the area.
Rural Iowa businesses were already fighting an uphill battle before the pandemic and areas like Colfax’s historic Main Street are in dire straits.
“It’s been a very big struggle. We’ve got four restaurants downtown. We’ve got four different gift and antique shops open on a regular basis,” said Magg. But Magg does see a light and hears a beep at the end of the dark pandemic tunnel. “Instead of a tip jar, we have DipJar. It makes a fun little beeping noise. It’s fast, it’s easy, and in these times, a way to get creative and keep our program funded,” Magg said.
Making its debut in September, DipJar allows shoppers in Colfax stores to give a little to Main Street projects. Magg said, “It’ll donate a predetermined amount of anywhere of $3 to $10 or $12. With our restaurants at half capacity already and losing those extra patrons who normally come in at these times, it’s crucial we make sure they have the support they need so the entire community can be successful.”
Most importantly for Lisa Sytsma, owner of Colfax Medical and Wellness, DipJar is contactless. “Anything that we can do to reduce contact, keeping masks on and sanitizing and an option to do this without contact and exposing others,” said Sytsma. While shopping downtown for gifts for others, Sytsma also gave to the cause. “Just a few dollars here and there. We’ve all been hit by the pandemic, so anything at this point helps us to keep our community going,” said Sytsma.
Magg can see Colfax’s future with each beep. “The hard work that so many volunteers and countless hours they’ve put in to know there is more support and success coming its way,” Magg said.
Colfax was founded in the 1860s and named after Schuyler Colfax, the vice president at the time under President Ulysses S. Grant. It is lifting up that rich history that could provide a bright future for Main Street. “Just seeing everybody want to contribute reiterates that this is a family and not just a community,” Magg said. It’s dipping into the history of a community that is small in number but big on heart. Sytsma said, “Residents here aren’t a number. They are a person and that’s something small town charm is able to offer.”
Colfax Main Street hopes to use some of the early donations for art projects and benches to help beautify the area.