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She’s feeling good in the valley again
From the Valley
NO REST FOR THE WICK-ED it what they say, but it should really be “no rest for a hard-working Mom.” Independent-Scout columnist Emily Schendel was enormously cheered on a hectic Tuesday morning when she remembered that she can get a great coffee drink now from Ocooch Mountain General Store in Gays Mills.

RISING SUN - Tuesdays are kind of a wild day for me. You see, its deadline day at the newspaper. Without fail, my kids tend to go to bed late on Monday nights, and be tired and grumpy Tuesday mornings. I usually need a shower, the animals always need to be fed, and I’m often either yelling or bribing my kids out the door to meet their grandparents on time. 

This Tuesday wasn’t much different than the others as I promised Thatcher all the bubblegum in the world if he would PLEASE just get moving. But, as I drove off from our meeting place, kid free I remembered one new and exciting thing. The brand spanking new business in Gays Mills was open today, and they have coffee! 

The Ocooch Mountain General Store just opened recently in what was the Old Cenex Gas Station and later Boland’s Repair shop. Fully remodeled inside, they offer an interesting variety. From sporting and hunting goods, to oil changes and tires. But most importantly to me, at least today, was the fact they have oat milk lattes! It may seem silly to some, but as a lactose intolerant kinda gal, to be able to get a fancy espresso drink made with my preferred milk alternative, I was on cloud nine–and in toasted marshmallow flavor no less. 

However, it’s not just the coffee that's exciting really, it's the fact that through a year of horrible business for many, Gays Mills is showing growth. Our little community is adding new businesses like baby animals on the farm. And our previous businesses are hanging in there still. 

Some of them are small, and you may not even realize they are there. Quietly renting spaces owned by the village for their online retail operations, but others are loud and big, like the impending Dollar General. And others still are old standbys who’ve weathered the test of time, flood waters and now a pandemic. The fact of the matter is, we have something to celebrate. 

Small businesses like these and those popping up in other neighboring small communities are the lifeblood of our community. Looking back at the old newspapers or sharing memories of days gone by and recalling how bustling our communities were doesn’t have to bring us a touch of sadness, it can give us hope. Hope that as the days turn into years, we still have a thriving community. 

Having businesses in our community is an important thing obviously. We often hear about how spending dollars locally keeps the money in our community. 

Furthermore, I think that having a variety of businesses in our community is important because we are so isolated in our rural living. Viroqua, Prairie du Chien, Richland Center, La Crosse! They’re all pretty far away. For someone with limited mobility or resources getting to those places can be tough. 

Having a healthy, thriving, local economy can be all the difference for some people. Not to mention those people are your neighbors, friends, and family. And we of course want to see the people we care about be successful. 

As time goes on, I hope to see more and more small businesses creating waves of excitement across our rural area-in all forms. But that depends on you, dear readers. 

As the warm spring weather brings us out of our winter dens and vaccines abound bringing us feelings of safe interaction, I encourage you to spend your money as locally as possible! I know that sometimes going to big box stores is the best option, and that's okay too! Yet, if you have the ability to make a choice in the matter, please support your neighbors. Keep these small businesses going strong and keep Gays Mills (and our neighboring villages) vibrant, healthy, and bustling along for the next 100 years!