ROCKFORD, Iowa – “I’ve seen two buildings get knocked down since I’ve been here,” says Mike Rottinghaus.
He owns the meat locker in Rockford and has been slaughtering, smoking, and selling meats on Main Street for seven years. On Wednesday morning, he looked outside to see an unwelcome sight, another building was falling to the ground.
“It’s just the way of all small towns in this area, they’re kind of dying out,” says Rottinghaus.
He says a lot more was going on, on Main Street when he first came to town.
“When I first started here, there were four restaurants and there was a woodworking shop on the end of the street, since then it’s kind of died out. Right now there’s no restaurants and no place for anybody to eat lunch,” says Rottinghaus.
So, seeing this building come down yesterday was not a welcome sight. It was known as the Gus Mitchell and Stephen Cogswell Building, built in 1894. Previously, it had two more buildings on either side but those were torn down as well.
“Two buildings on either side, the rest had gotten bad over previous years and they started to collapse so they were taken down,” says building owner Neil Fullerton.
They are hoping that this will open up more space for someone to move in.
“There wasn’t much room here with the other building, with as small as the spaces were, but now there’s a big enough area so they can put a regular building up and it will work better,” says Fullerton.
Which would be good for their Main Street, because right now, there isn’t much.
“The last few years we just keep losing them, one after another. I’m not seeing signs of it getting any better, but hopefully something like this will work,” says Fullerton.
He says the few businesses currently there are doing well. Rottinghaus says to do well, it helps to appeal to a larger audience.
“I think we draw from a bigger area, I mean we have farmers coming from away and lockers are few and far in between,” says Rottinghaus.
For the future of towns like Rockford, it’s always important to support your local businesses.
“As long as the local people keep supporting us, we’ll keep going,” says Rottinghaus.