Century House re-opens in new location

Now that businesses can fully open in Iowa, Century House in Monticello is glad to invite customers into their new location on E. First Street. Peg Arduser, Angie Dutra, and Diane Haag have been busy filling their new storefront. (Photos by Kim Brooks)

In late-February, Century House moved into its new building on E. First Street. A few weeks later, the governor shut businesses down due to COVID-19. After Mother’s Day, Century House was happy to re-open yet again.

Before Century House moved in, a hole was cut between the two separate sides, opening the store up to better traffic flow.
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Century House Gifts & Flowers has found a new home in Monticello after almost 40 years at its previous location.

     Now located 408 E. First St., owners Peg Arduser and Angie Dutra are enjoying having their business on one level for all to enjoy.

     “It felt important for us to get everything on one level, making it easier for our customers coming and going,” said Arduser. “We try hard to accommodate our customers.”

     It was late last year in 2019 that Century House starting thinking about alternative locations.

     Aside from a single level store, the new location also offers additional parking, which Arduser said is important for their older customers.

     Century House is also visible, located on “the main drag.”

     Before they could move into the former Bear Walls and Shine On storefronts, some cosmetic work needed to be done inside to combine the two sides. In mid-January, construction work was done cutting a hole in the wall adjoining the two separate storefronts. Now, customers can walk between the two rooms with ease while browsing gift and home décor items.

     Valentine’s Day 2020 was Arduser and Dutra’s last major holiday in their former location. They started moving later that month.

     But shortly after relocating, the governor shut the state down because of COVID-19.

     “We started moving and had to lock our doors because of the virus,” recalled Arduser.

     From that point on, Century House continued to offer no-contact deliveries and customer pick-ups.

     Arduser and Dutra had several events planned after their move such as an open house and prom flower event. They also had several weddings cancel or postpone, and provided flowers for just a few funerals.

     “We definitely didn’t do your normal displays or arrangements for funerals,” said Dutra. Many of the service flowers were delivered to loved ones’ home rather than go to the funeral homes, which were limited to capacity.

     They resorted to social media to keep the public abreast of the fact that they were still in business.

     Century House employee Diane Haag said once they started posting pictures of their houseplants, people wanted to buy them because they were stuck at home for so long.

     “People wanted plants in their homes,” she said.

     “We needed to do something to keep operating to some extent,” added Arduser.

     The Monday after Mother’s Day, Century House re-opened to the public once again.

     “Many florists across the country operated like us with their doors locked,” shared Arduser of state-by-state regulations. “We all functioned the best way we knew how.”

     While the gals are still getting settled and used to their new surroundings, they’re enjoying the new space. They have a large storage room in the back of the building, and also a back door that is used for floral deliveries.

     “It’s so much easier for deliveries now,” remarked Dutra, “because we’re in and out several times a day.”

     Dutra also has a larger work area to put together floral arrangements.

     “Before we were clustered together,” said Arduser. “There’s more space for design work.”

     They also added another counter in the work area.

     “It makes a huge difference,” added Dutra.

     Compared to their previous location, Dutra said the square footage is about the same. They’re just able to spread out more rather than have displays within the various rooms.

     With news that local schools, including Monticello, are able to have a prom again, Century House is looking forward to offering corsages and boutonnieres again for the high school students. Dutra said she’s also happy for the students to be able to have prom, a rite of passage.

     As business picks up, Dutra said she is also working on bringing new merchandise to their customers.

     “We’re still practicing no-contact deliveries for those who aren’t comfortable coming in,” offered Arduser.


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