Marcia Sparks of Bakery Unlimited hosted U.S. Senator Joni Ernst during NFIB’s Small Business Challenge on Aug. 29. While visiting, Sparks helped Ernst bake apple fritters while the small business owner explained her biggest hurdle: hiring qualified workers. 

Sparks started Bakery Unlimited in 1984 after discovering that Winterset’s town bakery had been closed for several years. Most of her doughnuts are made from scratch, which means Sparks starts at 1 a.m. and doesn’t stop until the bakery closes at 5 p.m. 

Sparks has four part-time employees but states that the hardest part of owning a small business is hiring good people. Especially in rural Iowa, finding reliable workers who show up and stay more than a few months is difficult, even though Sparks pays well above minimum wage. 

NFIB has been advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners for over 75 years. NFIB is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member-driven. Since their founding in 1943, NFIB has been exclusively dedicated to small and independent businesses, and remains so today. For more information, please visit

Sen. Ernst visits Winterset

Senator Joni Ernst visits with local resident Jane Jurgens, as husband Denny on her left and coffee buddy Roger Hircock share a morning cup of coffee at the Bakery Unlimited. Ernst was at the bakery to compete in the Small Business Challenge sponsored by NFIB.