CEDAR FALLS — After working for years for a software company, Terry Halbach wanted to do something she loves. She decided on opening a Mountain Man Nut & Fruit Co. franchise in downtown Cedar Falls.
“Mountain Man is out of Colorado,” Halbach said. “I wanted to bring something unique, not just to Cedar Falls, but to Iowa. Mine is the first Mountain Man retail store in Iowa.
“It is a mature, established company that’s been around 40 years. It is not fly-by-night, they have quality products, they are family owned and they share my values.”
Halbach was impressed when she toured the Mountain Man plant in Parker, Colo. She also was able to meet the family that owns the business.
“Mountain Man has a reputation for healthy eating,” Halbach said. “Nuts. There’s not a healthier food out there.
“Mountain Man is known for high fiber, low fat, low sugar, gluten free,” she said. “We can supply people with special-needs diets.”
The store is clean, organized and warmly welcoming. Nods to rustic Colorado are evident in the red and black plaid curtains, the bear art and the well-worn floors.
Walking around the store, Halbach points out the wide variety of products she offers: Sugar-free candy, dried fruit, Mountain Man’s signature trail mix.
“They are made right there in Parker,” she said. “All the nuts are roasted there.”
Next is a rack of gummy bears, then raw nuts and seeds.
“We have almonds, cashews, walnuts, Brazil nuts, pistachios,” she said. “They grow their own pistachios.”
In one corner of the store, gift baskets and themed boxes are displayed. The gift baskets are named for Iowa landmarks such as “Hartman Reserve,” “Backbone” and “Maquoketa Caves.”
“We have pre-made baskets, or you can design your own,” Halbach said.
The back wall is designated for chocolate.
“There are no additives or preservatives,” she said.
Halbach also offers her product in smaller bags for people to try before committing to a one-pound bag.
“They are so convenient,” she said. “You can slip them in a purse or a diaper bag, and they are great for traveling.”
Mountain Man also carries a variety of beef jerky.
The majority of one wall is home to the Taste of Iowa section, which features products from Iowans who do not have a store front of their own.
“This is my way of celebrating and supporting Iowa business entrepreneurs,” Halbach said.
Items include “Butter Me Up” all-natural nut butters by Cedar Rapids mother-daughter team Vicki and Bridgette Steffen, honey from third-generation bee keepers Ron and Karla Puettmann from Solon, prints from local photographer Teresa Johnson and coffee from Cedar Falls’ own Dave Thompson and his Get Roasted Coffee Co.
Wooden flags, crosses, jewelry, scarves, metal work and signs also are available in the Taste of Iowa section.
Halbach was excited to open her store in downtown Cedar Falls.
“Cedar Falls has invested a lot in its downtown,” she said. “The events they plan to bring people in. Community Main Street is just amazing. It just drew me here. I wanted to be a part of it.
Appropriately, Halbach opened her shop Sept. 8, the weekend of Artapalooza.
“It was hectic, but it was so much fun.”
Halbach is familiar with the downtown. She is from Cedar Falls and once worked at Oster Communications on the Parkade.
Mountain Man is located at the 319 Main St., the former site of Art Store & More. Years ago, Millers Shoe Store was located there.
“In the back half of the store, there are cupboards where the shoes were stored, and antique rolling ladders,” Halbach said. “It’s perfect to store my products, and we have tables set up to make gift baskets.”
Halbach has two grown daughters who live in the area and help at the store when they can.
“We’re kind of a family-run business too,” she said.
Halbach said she has received positive feedback since opening the store.
“People have been very welcoming and say it’s a good addition to the Main Street area,” she said.
Halbach is happy with her decision to open the store.
“You know that quote, ‘If you find a job you love, you will never have to work a day in your life.’
“Owning your own business is hard work and long hours,” Halbach said. “It’s a labor of love. At the end of the day, I can say, ‘I did that.’”