Thank goodness for automatic reminders that pop up when I check my inbox. On LinkedIn, one flashes across the screen, “You’re celebrating four years!” as I think, “How did that happen?”
Yes, four years ago, I purchased Columbia Welcome from the founding owner Stacey Thompson. I had some big shoes to fill for sure!
I remember feeling nervous heading to my first visit to welcome a new resident to Columbia. Thoughts such as What made me an expert on Columbia? raced through my head as I was driving, maneuvering by the direction of Google Maps. Between each “Turn left” and “Turn right,” I wondered, Will I be able to answer the families’ questions, make the proper connections and provide valuable resources for our community as Stacey had done for years?
But the door opened, and the rest was history! Without hesitation, I began rattling off my favorite must-have menu items such as the smoked chicken wings at D. Rowes paired with local Logboat IPA. The all-you-can-eat waffle bar at Günter Hans. Oh, and then you have to watch a film at Ragtag Cinema. I was wound up and excited as I envisioned myself first experiencing all the sights, eats and amazing culture of Columbia.
Yes, it is known as a college town. But despite general statements about MU being the hub of the city, missed in that description is its authentic Midwestern hospitality, its collaborative small business community, its role as an outdoor music Mecca — it’s a something-always-happening city!
When Columbia expands, we get new, local coffee shops, boutiques and restaurants while other cities get a Panera; Bed, Bath and Beyond; and chain steakhouses. All those places are great, and we have our fair share of them, but what makes us different than any other city is the people that bring their creative talents to open amazing, one-of-a-kind businesses that we get to simply show up and enjoy.
I’m beaming when I hear, “I would never be able to make the business connections and further my idea in my previous city,” words spoken by a new transplant from Kansas City.
“I mentioned that purple was my favorite color and then came home to a basket of purple petunias on my front porch,” from a recently widowed woman moving closer to her children.
I’m rarely surprised to hear what my fellow residents are doing to not only welcome new folks to Columbia but also get them plugged in. One plus one, we gain talented, cultured implants that in a short time are welcoming the next new neighbor. And so it goes — nearly four years later, I show up knocking on the doors of soon-to-be Columbians, excited to welcome them to CoMo!