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If We Build It, Will They Come?

If We Build It, Will They Come?

Hi there, welcome to the Vintage and Rustics in Montana website and blog page!  Thanks for stopping, looking, and reading!  We really appreciate all our customers…those who know exactly where we are and those who stumbled in and found us by chance.

We’re a mom-and-pop shop, if you will…in truth we’re a married couple with some kids and we both had other careers before we opened this store.  We like to remain incognito and really try to blend in…we would much rather have the focus be on the store, our hardworking crew and our vendors.

We came to realize, what we like to do more than anything else, is build…build business and build people.  We look at our store as an investment into our community and our vendors.  We work hard helping our vendors achieve success and growth and love to see them excited to do more as they “get the hang of it!”

We started out in one building…and it was a big one.  There is 11,000 sq ft+ on the main floor and more in the basement because a portion of the store goes under the boulevard.  We cleaned and cleaned and, in the end, filled over (five) 30-yard dumpsters and a couple of 20-yard dumpsters.  The previous owners of the building had become older, retired, and it was difficult for them to deal with the years of leftovers.

Our main building has some history in that it was built in the earliest part of the 20th century and was once 3 original storefronts.  The “Smith” building was two parts, a shoe store, and a hobby shop.  To the east was a hardware store.  The hardware store and shoe store were purchased and were opened to become Woolworth’s.  Woolworth’s purchased the west building later and after a big move pushing the staircase that was once in the middle of that building to the farthest west opened up again with the addition of the now famous Woolworth’s Luncheonette.

Woolworth’s operated in this big space until the early 80’s when Ben Franklin Corporation bought them out.  Ben Franklin kept the counter open and continued to serve lunches, ice cream and the well known “K-bars”.  In 2008, Ben Franklin’s in Miles City, MT closed suddenly and abruptly.  It was a sad day for everyone.  There were rumors of some shenanigans over the years, but ultimately it stayed closed and empty until this crazy family had an even crazier idea.

We looked at the building in the fall of 2015, just before the birth of our 4th child.  We had an idea for a business and were looking for a change.  Having previously worked for an entity that strongly discouraged teamwork…we just knew a business of personally invested, but like-minded individuals could thrive and work together for a common goal.

So, we set out to create a business that supported and encouraged people to work hard, work together, and share ideas.  It took 8 months of hard work renovating and bringing everything up to code and CLEANING, CLEANING, CLEANING!!

We opened December 2, 2016, and haven’t had a single second to look back.  We opened with only 10 vendors.  There was a lot of open space in the back of the store.  The bakery was the only part of the food that was ready, and we were off to the races.  Luckily people heard about our little adventure and we were able to grow, in 4 months we filled the main store with wonderful vendors and grew the bakery into serving lunch as well.

Our first expansion for more vendor space was into one section of the basement, we added lights, and plenty of outlets and filled that space just as quickly.  I had joked with my husband that we should just take over the block (there were more empty buildings next to us) and develop our own mini-Wall Drug.  He was not from the Midwest so didn’t quite understand the awesomeness that is Wall Drug…so we had to take a road trip.  Then when the business owners next to us decided to close and move south my husband was the one to say we should purchase that building.  It was amazing to see the dream grow, but the only way I knew it would work was if we combined the buildings.  So we measured and measured and measured some more and there was literally only one spot where we could have cut a hole in the wall to merge the buildings.

It took a bit, but with the help of a great contractor the 30 inches of concrete between the buildings gave way to a walkway connecting the two stores.  Luckily that space filled quickly as well…much to our great surprise. A friend who owned one of the real estate companies came to us and suggested we look at the building next door, too.  She said she just had a feeling that that building was meant to be ours, too.  So, we looked through it and pondered and ultimately made an offer.

Each one of our wonderful buildings comes with their own storied history.  As we grow this blog, we’ll try to do a good job of sharing that history.  We feel blessed and humbled to be able to invite vendors and visitors to see all that we and our team have worked on and accomplished together…just because 2 people saw a need for building something they hoped would be amazing in their own community.