SOMM Wines stays a step ahead, finds new COVID-aware location during crisis

FAIRFIELD — SOMM Wines’ response to the coronavirus crisis has been like a textbook in “one step ahead.” Before most businesses were even thinking about the virus, back in early March, SOMM owner Krista Matthes put out a summary of heightened disinfection. When “curbside” hadn’t yet become part of the retail lexicon, Matthes was already offering it. Before many businesses were thinking of closing to in-store traffic, SOMM had already shut its doors and begun to focus only on running outside to hand off product to customers. When it was…

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Thrift Bandit is eastern Iowa’s socially responsible outlaws of recycled fashion

When they realized they were both wearing “polyester grandpa pants” and cardigan sweaters, Michael and Stef Duncan knew they were destined for each other.  They didn’t realize those grandpa pants would also inspire a business they would co-run. Thrift Bandit is the online vintage venture of Michael (from Burlington in southeast Iowa) and Stef (from Jerico in northeast Iowa), who describe themselves as “nerds running this out of our basement.” Launched in the summer of 2019, Thrift Bandit seeks to provide an alternative to first-hand, mass-produced disposable clothing — and…

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‘Coming out’ again: The Real MainStream brighter, better, and reinvented

Read about how The Real MainStream is reworking itself to better serve Iowa and Illinois. Whenever I run across one of my keepsake copies of the first 13 editions of The Real MainStream, published before the current worldwide pandemic, I feel awash in memories and sensations. “We’ll never give up the handshake!” joked a customer and I in early March. Mere days later, he and dozens of others in our circulation area announced they were saying “no” to not only handshakes, but all in-store traffic for a few months.  Back…

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Beadology “beadazzles” with masks, fun craft stations, no-touch sanitizer station, more

“Beadology”-themed face masks that help support women’s and LGBTQ health, crafting stations with fun names, and a no-contact hand sanitizer station are among the new features at Beadology iowa, one of the state’s last remaining bead shops. As part of its ongoing effort to adjust to the coronavirus crisis, Beadology is also ensuring all of its arts, crafts, jewelry-making and beading classes are socially-distanced with work stations six feet or more apart, says co-owner Karen Kubby. Many classes limited to four or six slots. Masks are required of all staff…

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Shakespeare’s focuses on coming through with comfort food during coronavirus

Building on its historic strength of providing comfort food at an affordable price has been the focus of Iowa City’s Shakespeare’s Pub & Grill since mid-March when the coronavirus crisis first began. Throughout an unpredictable four months that included 11 weeks of being shut down to in-restaurant dining, Shakespeare’s has found ways to expand on its specialty of fun food. It was among the first restaurants in Iowa City to begin offering no-touch curbside service, and has bolstered its marketing of delivery through Chomp. Shakespeare’s also offers daily specials every…

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Fairfield store stands proud with LGBTQ Pride, Black Lives Matter message

FAIRFIELD — A few years ago, Paul Praither saw a headline that wrenched his heart: a teenager that worked for him at Everybody’s Whole Foods, who was undergoing a transition from one gender to another, had chosen to end his life. “He was a really nice kid. I wish he would have said something. I wish I would have said something,” Praither said. The tragedy inspired Praither to lead an LGBTQ renaissance at Everybody’s — a visual explosion of acceptance, equality and diversity that has blossomed this summer into a…

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Des Moines’ history of systemic racism said to be built around housing restrictions

The city of Des Moines intentionally undertook policies in the 1930s and 1960s to limit housing options for Black residents, writes a University of Iowa student. In addition, writes Ross Clowser, the city’s failure to clean up areas deemed by the EPA to be contaminated with toxins have hit Des Moines’ Black residents harder than the general population. As a result, living in Des Moines can be as hard for a Black person as living in some of the nation’s most segregated communities, Clowser writes in a 2018 paper he…

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Old Capitol Screen Printers stands up for face masks, nonprofits

IOWA CITY — Old Capitol Screen Printers, known for supporting nonprofit groups with free or discounted T-shirt printing, is helping to raise money for the Coralville Community Food Pantry with a themed tote bag. It also created and printed themed T-shirts for Johnson County Ambulance workers to wear during protests through the streets of Iowa City Thursday night. Old Capitol is also helping to raise money for Summer of the Arts, which is cancelled this year, by selling a specially-themed T-shirt (Keep the Arts Alive) From June 7 to 17. The…

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ReAlive Metaphysical connects anew with COVID-19 precautions

MARION — “No-touch air hugs,” new hours, and a plexiglass barrier between staff and customers are part of the changes you’ll find at ReAlive Metaphysical & Repurposing since the coronavirus crisis. ReAlive is now open noon to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays; and 2 to 6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. ReAlive will offer curbside pick-up and private in-store shopping by appointment. Additional changes include: Hand sanitizer in the front and back of the store, to be used by customers upon entering and leaving  Floor markers showing six-foot distances…

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