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    2021 Small Business Person of the Year Award

    Each year, the Fort Atkinson Area Chamber of Commerce recognizes a small business person on the basis of growth, staying power, business accomplishments, and community involvement. 
     
    In 2020, we presented this same award virtually to Erin Patterson of Paddy Coughlin’s Pub. Erin was nominated last year for her perpetual enthusiasm in cross-promoting other small businesses and her creativity in delivering quality customer service, even while her business was closed. Erin and her husband Mitch also opened 10-62 Saloon last year, offering yet another establishment that draws people to our downtown district. 
     
    Learning to operate under the new rules of a worldwide pandemic is challenging to say the least. With all the uncertainty and change, it can be difficult to focus your efforts and maintain a sense of normalcy. But this year's Small Business Person of the Year has managed to make some significant contributions, in keeping with a long and dedicated commitment to the Fort Atkinson business community.
     
    We’ve seen how technology is impacting today’s businesses, both good and bad. But when you have a business based on relationships, “high-touch” can be a bigger pull than “high-tech,” and this perspective is the winning philosophy of our 2021 recipient.
     
    The joy of small-town retail is knowing your customers and their preferences, and while e-commerce has certainly created some challenges for traditional brick-and-mortar businesses, there is no substitute for a personal touch. It’s one thing to see your special celebration called out on social media. It’s another to see it in a loved-one’s handwritten note in your mailbox.
     
    So how does a card and gift shop like Tuttle’s Hallmark in Fort Atkinson continue to flourish? Perhaps it’s due to proprietor Lisa Tuttle Woods’ investment in other small businesses. Two new chamber members now have space in Lisa’s store, offering locally made products like Hippychick Penny’s soaps and lotions, and Hymns in My Heart greeting cards. Lisa is helping both these businesses expand their markets by providing access to her loyal customers, and in turn offering her customers access to new products. The store is also carrying products from Wood Street Bakery, Mangiami Italiano, and coming soon, Spencer Jelinek Photography.  And like last year’s honoree, Lisa is known for cross-promoting other small businesses, often partnering with Humphrey Floral and Krueger Jeweler on downtown retail promotions.
     
    Says Paul Krueger of Krueger Jewelers, “Having worked with her on many different committees over the years, Lisa always brings a great attitude, high energy, and is fun to work with.  Lisa looks for unique ways to promote her business as well as ALL small businesses in Fort Atkinson.”

    Store Manager Anne Wesner adds, “Working with Lisa is an honor. Customers love when Lisa is at the store. New and old, they adore her. She has a way with people we call ‘Lisa-ism.’ Her love for Fort and people is contagious, just like her laugh.”

    Perhaps Lisa’s success is also due to her willingness to jump in and fill a need when she sees one. When Lisa’s mother Trudy passed away, Lisa and her family created Trudy’s Room, a space at First United Methodist Church dedicated to fostering the well-being of infants and young children by facilitating the donation, collection and distribution of clothing, diapers, furniture and other basic supplies to families while helping them achieve economic independence.

    Or perhaps Lisa’s success is due to her “get-it-done” attitude. When the Project LEAD Class of 2018 completed their Riverwalk Plaza project, Lisa and her staff jumped in to help organize a Riverwalk holiday tree lighting, which has now become a tradition in our downtown district.
     
    Long-time retail partner Tim Humphrey of Humphrey Floral and Gift is grateful for the opportunity to thank Lisa with this comment:
    In the many years I have known Lisa Tuttle Woods, I have never seen her without a smile. Whether working in the Hallmark store, volunteering for a chamber event, selling insurance, or just walking to work,  Lisa always has a smile and something good to say! Retail is in her blood and she’s not lost her enthusiasm for keeping Main Street and Fort Atkinson a vibrant place to shop, work, and live. Thank you, Lisa, for being one of the reasons so many people say – ‘We like it here!’”
     
    If she wasn’t already busy enough, Lisa also finds time to be active in the Fort Atkinson Rotary Club, the American Association of University Women, and the Unity Project. So, with gratitude for her dedication to our downtown and our community overall, and for investing in her own business and other micro businesses, we are honored to present this year’s Small Business Person of the Year award to Lisa Tuttle Woods.