A Sibley success story: The Porch on Main marks 15 years

SIBLEY, Iowa -- On a nice, warm day, you are likely to see the stools at the lunch counter at The Porch on Main filled with customers seeking an ice cream treat for respite from the summer heat.

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The Porch on Main, owned and operated by Julie Ackerman, has been a staple of Sibley, Iowa’s downtown landscape for the past 15 years. Ackerman opened the business in 2000 to fill a void in the city for an ice cream parlor and specialty retailer. Robin Baumgarn/Daily Globe
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SIBLEY, Iowa - On a nice, warm day, you are likely to see the stools at the lunch counter at The Porch on Main filled with customers seeking an ice cream treat for respite from the summer heat. 

On the other side of the store, you may see someone looking for a last-minute baby gift, a bride registering for her big day or even floral arrangements heading out the door. Whatever the need, The Porch on Main has become a one-stop shop for many in Sibley for the past 15 years. Proprietor Julie Ackerman said she started the business to fill what she determined was a need in the town. Ackerman, as a result, opened an ice cream parlor and gift shop.
“Fifteen years ago, there was a need for a gift store and there was a need for a deli lunch,” Ackerman said.
The Porch began with ice cream and started a tradition of conquering “The Mound.” Daring souls who are able to conquer six scoops by themselves are invited to sign the wall. The names cover an entire length of the store with signatures dating back to 2001, and some appear more than once as a testament to how customers return again and again.
As times have changed, the business has also expanded and adapted. Ackerman said that when she started, the ice cream parlor was the larger portion of the business with a few gift items.
Now, the retail side has expanded and runs nearly the length of the building, taking up half of the floor. Ackerman offers Iowa wines and accessories, kitchen gadgets, baby and children’s gifts, wedding gifts and home decor.
With the closure of Marguerite’s, Ackerman’s selection of women’s accessories and jewelry has expanded to fill the void. It has accounted for a good portion of business for the past three years.
“We do a lot of things here; we are such a small community that we need to do a variety of things to keep the business running,” Ackerman said.
In addition to wedding gifts and bridal registries, Ackerman offers floral arrangements and rentals for the big day. So far in 2015, she has eight weddings booked. It is something she enjoys.
“Back 15 years ago I never thought I’d be doing weddings, and we do a lot of weddings every year,” Ackerman said. “We do a lot of memorial funeral pieces, which I didn’t think I was going to get into, either. It’s been really good.”
Always adapting to the needs of her clientele, Ackerman has donned another hat as caterer, taking care of the culinary needs at a number of events in Osceola County.
Looking to the future, Ackerman has no plans on closing anytime soon. If the past is any indication, The Porch on Main will continue to change with the times and the needs of Sibley.

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