Chamber board honors Mogen

Published 10:35 am Thursday, October 9, 2008

Perhaps it’s her homemade caramel apples she sells in her store, or her famed customer service, or her professionalism, or her seemingly endless involvement in community festivities.

For the board of directors of the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce, it’s pretty much all of the above, in addition to her smile and her positive outlook on life.

Bonnie Mogen, who has owned Bonnie’s Hallmark on Main Street with her husband for 20 years and has worked at the Hallmark store since 1964, was awarded the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award Wednesday at the chamber’s Fall Meeting held at the Eagles Club.

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“I think she probably knows thousands of people, and many of them are customers,” Chamber president Jeff Baldus said. “Let’s face it, you can buy a greeting card anywhere, but people continue to support her because they know Bonnie, and they know she’ll be positive. She’s just an amazing individual. She’s all those great attributes that a good business person has.”

Mogen’s an Austin native. Her father worked at Hormel for more than four decades, while her mom stayed at home raising the couple’s four children.

She graduated from Austin High School in 1959, spent a few years away from Austin when her husband was in the Navy, and ever since has spent her days running the store, volunteering locally and spending time with her family, which now includes three granddaughters and one great granddaughter.

“All of my things revolve around my business, around downtown and around the family,” she said.

Known by some as “Mrs. Main Street,” Mogen has been on the United Way board, the chamber board and is still active in the planning for Austin’s “Crazy Days,” “Freedom Fest” and the popular “Christmas in the City” that offers sleigh rides and brings Santa Claus to town.

Mogen said she was humbled by the award.

“I was very appreciative,” she said.

“It means a lot. You don’t think at the time you deserve it because you have been involved with these things your whole life. You don’t look at these things as chores, you do these things because you enjoy doing them.”

Baldus said the Lifetime Achievement Award has been given annually for the past half-dozen or so years and is awarded by the chamber board to someone who is both an outstanding business person and someone who gives back to Austin.

“As I look at her, she’s the heartbeat of Main Street,” Baldus said. “She’s an individual who is caring and is always trying to find ways to improve Main Street and bring people to Main Street.”

In addition to honoring Mogen Wednesday, the chamber directors welcomed in two new members to their board, Todd Hepler of Hy-Vee Food Store and Steve Gleason of US Bank.