Small Business Spotlight: Porch Light

Take a look at a local, Dowling-owned small business: Porch Light


Flynn Milligan

The exterior of Porch Light can be seen from the corner of Grand Ave and E 6th St.

Flynn Milligan, Staff Writer

Owning a small business in today’s world is anything but an easy task. It requires hard work, frequent preparations and planning, dealing with unexpected circumstances, and much more. One small business owner, Kate Shaw, of Porch Light in the East Village and Dowling graduate, class of ’89, started her charming store all the way back in 2003. 


“It’s been a long time. It’s gone by quickly,” Shaw said.


Time really flies by when you’re having fun. However, fun doesn’t always mean easy. COVID-19 affected many businesses, big and small, but it proved especially difficult for smaller shops to fare during these harsh times. While some people only slightly struggled, other business owners had to shut down for good. Shaw was thankfully one of the lucky ones. 


“I feel like in the grand scheme of things I got through it [COVID-19] pretty well, and I know that’s not the case with other small businesses, so I feel very fortunate,” Shaw said. 

Kate Shaw stands behind the counter as she waits to check out a customer. (Flynn Milligan)

While this was undoubtedly a very scary time for Shaw and Porch Light, she thankfully didn’t have to go through it completely alone. The East Village has an abundance of small businesses and an even larger number of customers looking for things like an antique coffee table for their new remodel or some vintage home decor. 


“I had loyal customers that would help support me and continue to buy things to keep things moving,” Shaw said. 


It wasn’t just Porch Light’s amazing and loyal customers that kept her businesses thriving during those unprecedented times. Shaw made the decision to join a group with a number of other women-owned small businesses. It turned out to be a decision that certainly helped her to stay positive during a brutal time period for many shop owners in the city. 


“We’re all colleagues. We feed off each other. We inspire each other,” Shaw said. 


Supporting one another is exactly how the Porch Light in Des Moines got started when Shaw’s sister, the owner of the first Porch Light, inspired Kate to start her own. 


“Des Moines needs a Porch Light,” Shaw said. 


Des Moines certainly does need a Porch Light. If you are looking for something to treat yourself, a family member, or a friend, stop by this amazing shop at 526 E Grand Avenue In Des Moines’ East Village.