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Rural location works for this company

BIRD ISLAND -- Thanks to Bird Island's aggressive development of its Internet infrastructure, a rural location is anything but a disadvantage to the computer-driven business of Rural Computer Consultants Inc.

But make no mistake; Their rural location is the source of much amusement.

Company co-owner Sue Peterson said she can't help but laugh when she tells a customer from afar that arrangements have been made for their visit to Bird Island, and there is the telling, long pause that follows.

"You mean I'm coming to Bird Island and staying in a Sheep Shedde?'' she laughed while repeating the hesitant responses she hears so often. Only after assuring her customers that the Sheep Shedde Inn of Olivia offers the most modern of accommodations -- and sometimes revealing that the Bird Island Yacht Club is really only a whimsical creation -- do the customers warm to what's ahead for them.

Kevin Sheehan said he picked up a California visitor at the Twin Cities airport one night and laughed all the way back as his passenger expressed stunned surprise as they ran into swarms of early summer bugs, then frogs, and then the empty, black spaciousness of the western Minnesota countryside.

For Brian Sheehan, no visitor was more surprised than the guy he took ice fishing from Modesto, Calif. Watching his whiskey freeze into slush gave the visitor a whole new appreciation for Minnesota cold.

Actually, the visitors ultimately end up warming to what they find here. The company owners said they inevitably get compliments on the clean, quiet towns they visit, the friendly people and the way we do business.

"You mean you pay your bills on time?'' one incredulous customer told Peterson on the phone.

However, it's more than the stories about Polka Fest and small-town life that the customers take back with them from Bird Island. More than a few of their customers have also lugged home jars filled with rich, dark Renville County soil and whole sugar beets, laughed the business owners.