When the Centre Mall opened in 1991, Sioux Center’s population was 5,074 people and the taxable retail sales totaled just under $60 million. The community had voted 92 percent in favor of building the shopping center, indicating their faith in the vision presented by community leaders and their willingness to invest in a positive preferred future for Sioux Center’s downtown retail district.

Throughout the last three decades, the Centre Mall has been home to a total of 33 different retail stores. In addition, the mall has hosted hundreds of community meetings, promotions, and events. The presence of the Centre Mall in downtown Sioux Center significantly impacts the social and economic well-being of the community.

This month, the Centre Mall will celebrate its 30th anniversary in a community that has grown to 8,229 people with taxable retail sales well over $170 million.

Our current group of merchants at the Centre Mall give me great hope for the next 30 years. Mostly young, mostly female owners and managers working hard to satisfy the needs of their customers. Passionate, professional, adaptive, resilient, and media-savvy entrepreneurs investing their time and treasure toward providing the best possible selection, value, and shopping experience.

These qualities have surfaced especially due to the effects of the pandemic on retail operations. With stores closed due to government mandate, store owners and managers came up with creative ways to continue serving their customers. Petals & Perks created kits for projects that people could pick up at their drive-up window. Cinema 5 offered popcorn for sale by telephone order. Pat’s Jewelry offered showings by private appointment. Expressions mixed custom paint orders for curbside pickup. Others offered online ordering and delivery.

Even now, the pandemic is disrupting the flow of merchandise and supplies to our stores. Many orders were and continue to be delayed or canceled. Stores must quickly find new suppliers, set up accounts, and fill out their orders so they won’t run out of merchandise or basic supplies. Invisible to consumers, our merchants continue to adapt to these changing conditions daily.

Our resilient and adaptive merchants would be nowhere without the support and patronage of the Sioux Center community. Throughout the 30-year history of the mall, and especially in these uncertain times, local businesses need local support. The merchants of Centre Mall thank you for your willingness to check Sioux Center first before buying online or in another town.

As a token of appreciation, during the week of Sept. 13-18, Centre Mall stores will be handing out coupons to get a cookie or doughnut from Casey’s Bakery for just 30 cents.

If you get a chance, offer a word of appreciation to Zach at Pizza Ranch, Kari at Petals & Perks, Vickie at Evie’s Hallmark, Ryan at Casey’s Bakery, Amanda at Reflections, Dawn at Arrow Boutique, Mariah at Three:Twelve, Kendra at Pat’s Jewelry, Shelley at Expressions, Renae at Renae’s Salon & Spa, or Pam at Cinema 5 Theatres. These are the people investing today in the positive preferred future of downtown Sioux Center.

Dean Gabhart and his wife Laurie live in Sioux Center. Dean is the Centre Mall coordinator for the city of Sioux Center, a position he began in September 1991. He can be reached at deang@siouxcenter.org.