On the premises of Lyons Filling Station in Clinton, Iowa, is a placard that proudly refers to the store as a “Hometown Business.” That designation and a commitment to all things local came in quite handy for Ellen and Pat Determan (pictured), owners of the CITGO-branded unit, during the pandemic.

That’s because Clinton residents place a lot of stock in supporting small businesses. And it paid huge dividends during the health crisis.

“The pandemic took us over the top, to greener pastures [from a sales and profit standpoint]. But it’s been bittersweet,” Determan says. “On the one hand, we are stronger than we have ever been, and it’s all owed to the support that local folks give to small, local businesses. If not for that, we’d possibly be struggling. The bitter part is seeing some other local businesses struggling, such as bars and mom-and-pop restaurants.”

In Clinton, most of the small businesses support each other in what’s a symbiotic relationship. For example, the Determans source bread products from local Sweetheart Bakery. The Clinton Fairway Grocery store is where they source meats, while paper products come courtesy of Great Western Supply, Davenport, Iowa.

“All our profits stay local; we make and spend our money in the community that supports us,” Determan says.