116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MOUNT VERNON — Ann Dew-Hansen still likes to decorate the occasional cake, but her career has shifted.
“I did food shows and everything,” said Dew-Hansen, who operated her own cake-decorating business at 16 before earning a degree in baking and pastry arts from Sullivan University in Louisville.
“I owned a restaurant, I owned a catering business coming out of college. It’s just such a different monster.”
Out of necessity, Dew-Hansen found another artistic outlet that became her profession.
“I was a single mom looking for an extra income, so I started painting and re-purposing furniture,” she said. “Being a single mom, I always had to upscale things.”
Her work attracted customers.
“You could put stuff on the (Facebook) group sales, and it would be gone just like that,” Dew-Hansen said.
Expanding her reach, Dew-Hansen became one of the first vendors at Back Porch Pickers and Artisans when the Mount Vernon antique mall opened in July 2018. Her duties there quickly grew.
“I started doing the marketing part of it, and it turned into they wanted to sell and they were trying to find someone,” Dew-Hansen said.
She became Back Porch’s owner Jan. 1.
“I love this so much better,” she said. “I can still deal with the art and my creativity and all of that stuff.”
Since taking over, Dew-Hansen has added nearly 20 vendors, bringing the current count to 56 antique dealers, artists and crafters sharing the 9,000-square-foot space.
Owner: Ann Dew-Hansen
Address: 616 First Ave. North, Mount Vernon
Phone: (319) 895-8044
“We have a great vendor family,” she said. “We sell antique, vintage, collectible, re-purposed, handmade items. We have art, we have everything that’s under the sun.
“That’s one thing I love about this place. You can pretty much come in and find something you’re interested in.”
Vendors take shifts behind the counter in exchange for discounted booth rentals.
“We have zero employees,” she said. “It’s all in the vendor family.”
Dew-Hansen likes the cooperative aspect of the trade.
“These vendor malls, antique malls or whatever you want to call them are becoming more popular,” she said.
“The reason I love them so much is, I consider we have 56 small businesses in here. They don’t have overhead, we’re all working together to make it successful.”
Dew-Hansen and her vendors are preparing for Back Porch’s busy season, which began April 23 with Mount Vernon’s annual Sidewalk Sale.
“We have something going on every month,” she said. “We have the Memorial Day antique show. Fourth of July, they have the big (event) uptown, so we’ll be filling our parking lot again.
“They draw so much people in who respond to what we’re doing here.”
After initially shutting down due to 2020’s COVID pandemic restrictions, Back Porch reopened with social distancing precautions.
“One thing we had going for us is, we have a lot of space,” Dew-Hansen said. “You can social-distance, and we did a lot of online promotion during that time.
“With the wide aisles, the large rooms and all that space people felt safe to come in and not be on top of each other.”
That space may grow larger this year.
“We’re always looking for vendors,” Dew-Hansen said. “We have the potential of more space opening up, so we’ll be looking to fill more.”
Dew-Hansen seeks vendors who cater to a range of interests.
“We are just covering the span of people,” she said. “Even the hardest customers who walk in and say, ‘I don’t want to be here, I’m here with my wife,’ I just challenge them and say, ‘You’ll find something in here that interests you,’ and that’s usually true, with us having a little of everything.”
That lends itself well to browsers.
“I would say there are more customers that are looking for that thing that’s going to grab them,” Dew-Hansen said. “But there’s a lot of collectors out there who are looking for toys or clocks or whatever.”
As for the vendors, “I think people come in here first because they want it as a hobby,” she said. “Second, because they want to make money.
“Third, because they’re clearing out something. Fourth, they have their own list, but I really think they just love doing it. They find (an item) and they have to go with it somewhere.”
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