Hinson makes stop at Hen & Chicks Studio

U.S. Representative Ashley Hinson (R-Marion) speaks with Hen & Chicks Studio owner Heidi Kaisand regarding what her office can do to help small businesses like hers during a stop in Conrad on Tuesday.
CJ Eilers
Regional Sports Editor

U.S. Representative Ashley Hinson (R-Marion) took advantage of a congressional recess to visit several towns on Tuesday, including a visit to Conrad for a tour of Hen & Chicks Studio. 

Hinson, whose Congressional District recently gained Grundy County, met with owner Heidi Kaisand, who opened Hen & Chicks in 2011 after a career in publishing with Meredith Corporation and in the quilting business. Located on Main Street in downtown Conrad, Hen & Chicks provides a variety of quilting needs and also features a retreat center upstairs for enthusiasts looking to get away for a few days. 

“It’s about choosing happy,” Kaisand told Hinson said. “I choose to wake up happy with what I have and look on the bright side. I'm so lucky that when people walk in the front door, it's our job to make them happier as they go out. We do whatever we can to help with their inspiration.” 

Like a vast majority of small businesses during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Hen & Chicks initially shut its doors temporarily to slow the spread of the virus. When Kaisand was able to sell her merchandise again, she took advantage of federal agencies such as the Small Business Administration (SBA) and loans to keep her business afloat in 2020. Kaisand bounced back with strong sales in 2021. 2022 fell off slightly for the business and other issues including deteriorating conditions for the building have Kaisand concerned.

“It’s nowhere near the condition that I feel this building will fall down, but I do find things frustrating,” Kaisand said. “Bids for cement and mortar are high. I applied for a grant and didn’t get it. I’m concerned about maintaining this building because I do want to sell it when I retire one day.”

Kaisand continued talking about her need for staffing, but not having the income to support them. Collaboration with other quilting businesses across Iowa has positively impacted her business and bus tours come from across the state to visit each shop over the year. She explained to Hinson that multiple forms of income ranging from the retreat center to equipment rentals has helped her business diversify and be successful.

“Clearly, your passion is unrivaled,” Hinson said. “It’s exciting to see. I want to hear from my constituents for this reason and find solutions.”

Hinson spoke about modernizing several loan options and advocating for an end to “unnecessary spending” going on in government agencies.

“Ultimately, I think the government bureaucracy has forgotten who they work for,” Hinson said. “We’re paying $7 billion  in taxpayer money to rent these facilities for agencies. According to the Government Accountability Office, 17 of 24 federal agencies are only using about 25% of their office space. This should be alarming for agencies like the SBA.  They need not only a modernization to make it more user friendly, but they also need to start showing up to work. This is a disservice to business owners like you who need those services and have questions.”

Hinson and Kaisand spoke for 25 minutes up in the retreat center, the former offering her office’s resources if Kaisand ever needs assistance getting in touch with agencies or a recommendation for a future grant.

“Hearing these real world stories helped me to be a more effective legislator,” Hinson said. “They help our casework team to make sure they can better execute with these agencies to do two things: hold government accountable and solve these problems.”

Kaisand took part in a photo op with the Congresswoman afterwards and thanked her for the visit to Conrad. 

“I certainly think it acknowledges that she's, she wants to hear from the people who are affected by agencies like the Small Business Administration and hear concerns,” Kaisand said. “It’s nice to think she thought enough of coming to hear from us directly.” 



The Grundy Register

601 G. Avenue - P.O. Box 245
Grundy Center, IA 50638
Telephone: 1-319-824-6958
Fax: 1-800-340-0805

Mid-America Publishing

This newspaper is part of the Mid-America Publishing Family. Please visit www.midampublishing.com for more information.