What wins the Dickens Chambers Top Business Award
HASTINGS, Neb. (Nebraska) – A while ago, the Hastings Chamber of Commerce recognized local businesses and entrepreneurs for their work in the community. What the Dickens in downtown Hastings took home the company of the year award for up to 25 employees. The owners of the establishment described the victory as a humbling but electric experience.
“I had answered the phone and then put Mikki on speakerphone so Beth could hear the conversation too and I think we just said, what? Truly? Truly? Like a thousand times because we were just shocked,” said Caroline Kemp, co-owner of What the Dickens.
Kemp said they didn’t really think they could win an award at that level. Kemp started What the Dickens with co-owner Beth Funkey. They started making treats to order in 2017.
Their business name comes from William Shakespeare’s play ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’, which means ‘what the heck’. Years later, in January 2020, the business moved from their location to their current location.
Due to the pandemic, they couldn’t open until June 2020 and they say the idea came about over lunch.
“Caroline brought in a box of these beautiful peppermint cupcakes and I’ve never had one,” said Funkey. “I’ve always wanted to have one and so I had a bite of it, and it was so good and wonderful.”
From that day Funkey began convincing Kemp to stop being a teacher at Central Community College in Hastings and take up the job of entrepreneur. Kemp agreed, but only if the two were partners. Now they have many people to thank for their success.
“We have great employees and staff, and we have great support as well,” Kemp said. “Be home to our families, through the community, the people, our incoming customers and other business owners in downtown Hastings.”
Kemp said other entrepreneurs in downtown Hastings have become role models and mentors for them, creating a collaborative environment. Their work has exceeded their own expectations, but they have always been confident.
“I think we had our hopes up,” Kemp said. “I think any entrepreneur wants to be successful in business. We were definitely hoping to be busy and successful. But to get this kind of recognition is really humbling.”
But they won’t stop there, Funkey is also focused on the company’s future goals.
“We definitely want to grow our business and have more business, and that means you need more people to come and help take care of those guests,” Funkey said. “On the other hand, hiring people is important and it’s another way to give back to your community, being an employer.”
Funkey said that giving people a good salary and a positive workplace are the main things they are working on. She also said that usually their next move is revealed to them.
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