The Young Entrepreneurs
If starting a new business takes experience, don’t tell Emily Astle and Ashley Ladwig.
Deer Creek’s Emily just turned 20 and this fall Ashley will be a Battle Lake High School senior. They each opened a business this summer so their ownership experience literally started the same day. But in this case, youthful enthusiasm trumps experience.
Deer Creek Convenience Store
A 2016 Wadena-Deer Creek High School graduate, Emily Astle took some classes at M-State college in Wadena. But she is a hard worker and held down a tax-time job at Wadena’s H&R Block while picking up extra hours at The Station, a fuel and convenience store in Deer Creek.
But this spring The Station closed. “The whole town was surprised,” Emily said.
Since Emily worked there, she texted Cole, the owner of The Station. “I asked if he would like to sell. I was joking, but then when he said yes….” Emily paused. “My parents own three businesses themselves, so being your own boss sounds good.”
Emily lives with her parents just west of Deer Creek and she can’t imagine living in a city. “I like small towns. Everyone knows everyone. You’ll see a vehicle going down the street and someone will say ‘That’s so-and-so.’ People make a small town go.
“I like Deer Creek and I think I want to stay in Deer Creek for the rest of my life, so why not buy a business,” she said.
Ever since opening in May, Emily has felt great community support. “I’ve seen people I haven’t seen in years,” she said. “I expected support, but to see how many people actually stop and offer to help has been nice.”
Emily has hired four employees. “Finding employees was my biggest fear. We opened in 19 days but we did it and they (the employees) are awesome.” Ironically, none of her employees lives in Deer Creek. “They are all from a suburb of Deer Creek,” she laughed.
Battle Lake Mobile Coffee
Battle Lake’s Ashley Ladwig created a mobile coffee shop called Coffee 33 from an old trailer. Ashley will be a senior in Battle Lake this fall.
Coffee 33 sits on the outskirts of Battle Lake, at the busy intersection of Highways 210 and 78. This is Ashley’s first business, but says she’s thought about owning her own business for several years. In fact, she saved her tip money for three years waiting tables with the idea that she could create a business. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” she said.
“I looked at buying a coffee shop in Henning, but then I thought having a coffee shop I could move (sort of a food truck model) was a better idea,” she said.
The business name honors a classmate, Jacob Quam, who died in a car accident just over a year ago close to Ashley’s farm near Vining. He wore the number 33 on his basketball jersey.
She told WDAY-TV’s Kevin Wallevand that telling that story makes her happy. “This is his basketball number, the name of my camper. And on my back, says ‘Give life, be a donor’," Ashley said.
Advice for Young Entrepreneurs
Emily offers some advice to young entrepreneurs. “Don’t be scared to make the decisions. I’m a terrible decision-maker, but never second guess yourself because normally you will be right,” she said. “And if you’re wrong, you’ll learn from it.”