Jo & Co adds sparkle to downtown Wellman

By Cheryl Allen
Posted 11/15/23


Melissa Rediger is in a sweet spot, but it didn’t happen overnight.

As she tells it, the origins of Jo & Co, her handmade gift shop in downtown Wellman, date back 23 years to when …

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Jo & Co adds sparkle to downtown Wellman



Melissa Rediger is in a sweet spot, but it didn’t happen overnight.

As she tells it, the origins of Jo & Co, her handmade gift shop in downtown Wellman, date back 23 years to when her first child was born and she was “trying to think of a way to be a stay-at-home mom and make some money.” She purchased a torch and started crafting glass beads, which she sold on eBay and at craft shows.

Like many creatives, her medium evolved over time, and so did her life. When the youngest of her four kids entered school, she became a teacher, first teaching kindergarten at Mid-Prairie, and now a guidance counselor at the high school. A couple of years ago, she bought a laser engraver and started creating designs in wood.

Although she doesn’t have a background in art or craft, her creative work has become “a passion,” she says, and that is evident when you step inside Jo & Co, an industrial-rustic shop filled with her own creations and those of a few fellow makers. Shelves and tables are filled with personalized cutting boards, signs, and wall art; decorated thermoses and tumblers; and colorful earrings, bookmarks, and sweatshirts.

“My brain is going 100 miles an hour all the time,” she says. “I probably need to find a niche and focus on one thing, but it’s so hard for me because I just want to do it all.”

Her creations may be diverse, but the look is cohesive, brought together with the refinished furniture of a fellow Mid-Prairie teacher and fragrant handmade soap bars by a local soapmaker. And thus she arrived at “Jo & Co,” her own middle name coupled with the ‘company’ of other vendors.

Rediger was on the leading edge of the revitalization of Wellman’s downtown business district when she opened her shop in April 2023. Although there is interest in unused downtown storefronts, many building owners remain reluctant to lease or sell. Fortunately for her, the shop space that looked right for her was inside a building owned by her father-in-law – and her contractor husband was able to transform it from a Rotary club meeting room to a chic shop by burning some weekend and midnight oil.

It can be a bit lonely out there without neighboring retail shops to help draw customers. Rediger looks forward to the opening of Simple Happiness, which is expected to open in time for Rural Road Trip’s Holiday Edition on Nov. 17 and 18, in the former Starbeck-Miller building just a few steps down the street. For now, she is keeping her day job and limiting her store hours to mostly Saturdays as she grows her business.

“There are days when I get a little bit discouraged,” she admits. “I’ll be open for three hours, and maybe only one or two people come in. It can be like, What am I doing? Is this going to work? But then the next time a lot more come in, and people are like, ‘This is awesome.’ Then it helps boost what I’m doing.”

Right now she is in a sweet spot of having employment to support her family, and a hobby of creating beautiful things and running a shop in her spare time.

“I don’t know where [my creativity] comes from, it just kind of came out of nowhere,” she says. “I do feel like the Lord has just blessed me with that and in the position I’m in at the high school. Having something for self-care and that I enjoy doing is really important, so I’m very thankful for that.”

Visit Jo & Co at 218 8th Avenue, Wellman on Nov. 11 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Nov. 17 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Nov. 18 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Nov. 24 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Nov. 25 from 4 to 7 p.m. For more information, email or visit online at

Wellman, Iowa, downtown, retail, business, Jo & Co, gifts, creative