If there is one gift or opportunity that could arise out of this COVID-19 pandemic it may be that people are increasingly turning to their own backyards and local communities as places to spend their money. While we are all dealing with the complexities of a global economy, there is no better time to turn our collective attention to Main Street.
In Big Timber, my daughter, Kate, and two friends, Susie and Jenny, have done just that. We established “thistle creek” as a home goods store with locally sourced Yellowstone Coffee and Tumblewood Tea. Our goods range from beautiful stickers created by Montana artists to small batch, women owned companies that supply products that you will not find on Amazon but only in a place like ours.
I refer to this shop as aspirational. A person can spend $3 or $300. We do not shy away from marketing to the summer vacationers from around the country who want to take home something special from Montana but we are also sensitive to the needs and economic realities of some of our neighbors. Bottom line is that we want everyone to feel welcome and hope that most people walk out with something in their pockets.
I became the surgeon-turned buyer, Kate got our computers and card swipers up and going, and Jen and Susie have been the artistic geniuses behind what goes where. We turned to our individual strengths without even having to assign each other duties.
And guess what? Big Timber folks have stopped by. So have people from Bozeman, Billings, Livingston, Glendive, Greycliff, and Broadus (you get the point). And they have been joined by visitors from Texas, Arizona, Wyoming, California, Washington, New York, and DC. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. People are delighted to see an upscale store in a small community and we already have repeat customers.
While it may be true that we have masks on most of the time, offer masks and sanitizer at the front door, and have arranged tables such that people can stay six feet away….so far our venture proves that even in the darkest of times people welcome and appreciate a reason to stay home and keep their money in small communities. Stay Local. Shop Local.