Tom Austin and Elwood are inseparable. Elwood is where Austin was born, where he grew up, went to school, got married, and worked his entire career – first as a teacher, then principal, and finally superintendent.
Elwood is in his blood, and that is why he is so well-suited to lead the Elwood Chamber of Commerce.
Austin has long valued chambers of commerce for the work they do for their communities – promoting local commerce, tourism and people. It’s the reason he maintained a membership in the Elwood Chamber on behalf of the Elwood Community School Corporation throughout his years as superintendent.
The Perfect Petal’s owner/operator, Kathy Deavers, has a passion for arranging flowers and has been doing it for years. When she finally decided to make her passion a commercial business this past September, she did so not only because she loves what she does, but she also did it as a sort of tribute to her mom and dad.
“I was making arrangements as gifts for family members,” Kathy said, “and my parents encouraged me to open a flower shop so others could enjoy my arrangements. They thought I had talent and should share it. So I did it in memory of my mom and dad.”
Wells Bowling Lanes, located east of Elwood on State Road 37, has been in operation since the spring of 1960. Owner Joe Wells said it all started because his father, Ed Wells, needed a place to bowl.
“Dad, who was a contractor, built it himself,” Joe recalls. “We were from Alexandria and the bowling center over there had eight lanes upstairs with pin boys. But Dad liked to bowl, and the only other place to bowl close by was a six-laner here in Elwood. So he decided to build one himself.”
The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) dates back to 1899, organized to help veterans of the Spanish–American War and the Philippine Insurrection. Elwood’s first VFW post, No. 1421 – The Tinplate Post – formed in February 1926. But in 1932, it became the Harry E. Meade Post, honoring an Elwood soldier killed in action in Europe on Nov. 11, 1918, Armistice Day. The post reorganized in 1976 under the name, Elwood VFW Memorial Post 5782.
Walk into any of Updegraff’s three Elwood locations – all within a block of the other – and you’ll find yourself in the midst of a sea of home furnishings – sofas, chairs, recliners, tables, cabinets, bookcases, beds, lamps, desks, dining tables, clocks, accessories… everything!
Updegraff Furniture, in business for more than a quarter century, started small, explains Kelly Updegraff Cole, who owns the stores with her brother,D.J.
“D.J. opened a used furniture store on Ninth Street about 27 years ago and gradually got into selling new furniture,” Kelly said. “His first new furniture store was on B Street, next to the hospital.”
Elwood’s Louis Monroe American Legion Post 53 at 220 W. Main Street is among the state’s oldest Legion posts, forming in the fall of 1919, shortly after Congress chartered the national organization as a resource for World War I veterans.
Since then, the American Legion has evolved into one of the country’s most influential nonprofit groups, serving a membership that exceeds 2 million veterans.
Situated near the heart of Elwood is a quaint little shop, where everyone is invited to step inside, enjoy coffee, browse merchandise, receive hair and nail services, massages, or simply kick back and soak in some of the Gypsy Soul that’s so prevalent there.
Gypsy Soul, located at 114 South Anderson Street, is run by business partners Jackie Lane and Lana Nichols. Gypsy opened in May of 2015 andhas been a dream come true for both of them. They both say, “Gypsy Soul is a place where people can relax, decompress, and just enjoy.” Their motto is, “It’s a good day to have a good day.”
Matt Minick, owner/agent for the State Farm Insurance branch in Elwood, is a strong advocate for life insurance, but not simply because life insurance is one of the products he sells. Rather, it’s because he’s seen the comfort life insurance provides people in their times of loss, as well as the hardships facing those who lack it.
“It’s been eye-opening to me,” Minick said. “My job is to protect people, and I tell my clients that life insurance shouldn’t wait. You just never know when you’re going to need it.”
Mr. Happy Burger’s delicious, made-to-order fare has delighted hungry patrons for more than 50 years. The menu offers a wide selection of favorites, and all are served fresh.
When Ed Kane opened Mr. Happy Burger in 1964, not only did its food set it apart from other area restaurants, its drive-through window – the first and only one for miles around – did too. And if great food and convenience weren’t enough to ensure its popularity, Elwood High students made a daily dash for Mr. Happy Burger as soon as the school lunch bell rang.
Dr. Barnett has cared for the Elwood community’s dental needs since 1974, after establishing his dental practice here following a two-year, active-duty stint in the U.S. Coast Guard. Dr. Barnett and his experienced staff are dedicated to caring for their patients in an atmosphere that is highly professional, yet inviting, friendly and relaxed.
Dr. Barnett provides a full range of dental services – from thorough examinations, cleanings and whitening, to restorations, crowns, bridges, as well as dentures, extractions and implants.
J. Wolf Construction – a Christian-owned-and-operated business – provides complete residential and commercial construction services at affordable prices and unparalleled quality workmanship. Services include concrete work, new homes, outdoor buildings, landscaping, siding, roofing, seamless guttering, windows, excavation, electrical, remodeling, and foundations.
Located at 118 North K Street, Elwood, Wolf Construction has been in operation since 1982. It’s been a member of the Elwood Chamber of Commerce for about 10 years.
Hembree Motor Sales has provided the Elwood community with like-new, previously owned, late-model cars, trucks, vans and SUVs for 42 years!
Robert Hembree began working for Homer Chase in 1969 and purchased the business from him in 1974, establishing Hembree Motor Sales. Present owner Steve Hembree earned his business degree from Marion College in 1987 and went to work for his dad, buying the business in 2001.
He takes pride in maintaining his father’s reputation for integrity and a strong, “customer first” business practice and loves to remind customers, “Think about it … everyone drives a used car.”
A Chamber member since 2003, First Farmers Bank & Trust is the Elwood community’s longest established bank, its roots extending all the way back to 1885. Today, First Farmers Bank & Trust is 37 branches strong and the largest agricultural bank east of the Mississippi River, as designated by the FDIC. First Farmers Bank & Trust is proud of its tradition as a solid, state-of-the art financial force, while it is dedicated to maintaining the highest of ideals and serving its customers with the old-fashioned service they have come to know.