Kathy Polfer’s Marketing Management degree from Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) not only prepared her to successfully manage a business, but to manage two Dyersville businesses for the past 15 years.
After earning her Associate of Applied Science degree in December 1997, the owners of the Plaza Antique Mall approached Polfer about her interest in running the show. The alumna jumped at the opportunity to apply her business savvy and marketing degree to the daily management of the thriving business. Plaza Antique Mall showcases a range of hard-to-find and vintage items including antique furniture, John Deere tractor toys, pottery, jewelry, china and stoneware.
“I handle the scheduling for employees and their shifts, and advertising and inventory as part of my management role,” Polfer said. “I especially enjoy working with customers and taking the time to get to know them. I’ve always been a people person.”
Polfer brings the same level of enjoyment to managing Boji Sweet Tooth, which is located in a mall directly across Rte. 136 and the antique store. Ron and Margie White own both businesses, and Polfer said the couple is great to work with.
When she enrolled in the Marketing Management program at the Peosta campus, Polfer was a first-generation college student; no members of her immediate family had ever furthered their education after high school. Her brothers, Andrew Dunkel and Mark Dunkel, have since earned degrees from NICC.
For Polfer, the decision to continue her education at NICC was an easy one to make. “Denny Zelinsky (retired marketing instructor) is such an amazing person. Plain and simple, he made class fun. There was never a dull day in his class,” Polfer recalled. “Suzanne Seedorff (marketing management instructor) is so compassionate, and she was my academic advisor. If you missed class or were sick, these instructors would call you to see if you were OK. They cared. I don’t think the big universities can do that. We have a big gem of a school right here with NICC.”
Both businesses Polfer manages sport an appealing, customer-friendly look, layout and design. The façade of the Plaza Antique Mall and its entrance are cast with nostalgia in mind and framed by an authentic movie theatre marquee and ticket window that greets visitors. The interior of Boji Sweet Tooth is awash in bright, cheery primary colors with walls that include simple reds, blues and yellows. The candy itself is a trip back in time with displays featuring hard-to-find candies such as Zotz, Chuckles and Jelly Bellies.
“We offer gourmet chocolates, gourmet cupcakes and a frozen yogurt bar along with vintage candies. We try to carry things you’re not going to find in normal everyday stores,” Polfer said.
Kathy and her husband, Robert, live in rural Worthington. Robert Polfer is a heavy equipment operator for Tschiggfrie Excavating.