When we jumped at the idea of opening a home goods store in downtown Big Timber in May, I don’t think we could have imagined that we would open our doors on June 15, 2020. COVID had yet to tear through the state of Montana and life on most Montana streets was still normal compared to what we were seeing in New York and New Jersey. We had enough merchandise to fill a third of the shop and we were shocked we had that much.
Increasingly, as COVID started to make headlines in the rural West, we instituted a mask requirement in our shop. I knew what was coming. We also asked customers to stay “a grizzly bear length from each other” and for the most part people have been gracious complying with both requests. It may have cost us at times, but I am playing the long game to make ‘thistle creek” successful.
So not really knowing what to expect we just stared forward into summer. And then something really interesting happened. While many tourists canceled their Montana summer vacations, other out-of-staters came out and stayed. Here there was still a little freedom to move about and retail stores were open for business. People stayed and they shopped. Increasingly, locals felt more comfortable staying close to home and people in the larger cities would leave on the weekend and head to a small town like ours and stroll the downtown.
So here we are, six months after our launch and we are here to stay. And now when I say out loud. “We opened a brick and mortar during a pandemic in the middle of nowhere. What could go wrong?”. Instead, I now think with a lot of pride “What could go right?!”