The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Josie Braaten
The Courier 

Wolf Point Provisioner Offers Camp Sites for Cyclists

 

Josie Braaten / The Courier

Road bikes stack up in front of Steamboat Dry Goods in Wolf Point.

Seven years ago, Carolyn Whitmer found herself ready for a change. After years of working in the Portland corporate world and some considerable higher-ed, she decided to open a greenhouse. Growing up on her family's farm south of Poplar instilled in her a strong passion for everything plants, from how they grew to people's interactions with them. With her new business venture, she wanted to share this passion with the community of her childhood, while filling the area's need for an extensive greenhouse.

Along with the plants, Whitmer started supplying gardening accessories, basic tools and select pieces of outerwear, to make the gardening experience more enjoyable and efficient for her customers. Over the next two years, the amount of apparel she was selling increased drastically due to customer requests. After copious research, Whitmer decided to launch a full on retail enterprise to accompany her beloved greenhouse. "We decided that we had to jump in with both feet or just quit," stated Whitmer in regards to the decision to enter the clothing retail venue. The retail portion of the store was built in 2012 with approximately 11 original vendors. "They took a chance on us and we took a chance on them," says Whitmer of the original vendors. That chance paid off and five years later, Steamboat Dry Goods offers roughly 115 brands, which rotate through depending on season.

The next era of Steamboat Dry Goods brought the sales of specialty beer and wine. "We received requests for a local specialty wine and food venue from over 50 customers," said Whitmer. Always vigilant to the evolving needs of her valued customers, she undertook the arduous seventh month task of securing an off-premise beer and wine license. It was well-worth it. Today, Steamboat Dry Goods imports beers and wines from all over the world and supports a thriving special orders business. In addition, the store offers craft ice cream and espresso.

It was during this period, of setting up the specialty gift venue, that two cross-state cyclists made an unplanned stop at the shop because of a flat tire. That chance encounter changed the course of Steamboat's future. Three years later, Steamboat Dry Goods is on the official map for the Adventure Cycling Association and, in addition to selling basic bike parts, boasts a sod patch on which to pitch tents, shower access, BBQ facilities, Wi-Fi, and a hottub. Plans to build a sauna on the property are also in the works.

Since that initial meeting, over 120 cyclists have camped at Steamboat Dry Goods, the perfect resting place between Glasgow and Saco Hot Springs. Whitmer loves the energy and business that the cyclists bring, not only to Steamboat Dry Goods, but to all of the surrounding independent businesses. "Having the cyclists come through is a big revenue boost for the entire area, every dollar spent turns seven times," says Whitmer, underscoring the importance of working to encourage cyclist traffic through rural communities.

Running Steamboat Dry Goods is a labor of love shared by Whitmer and her mother, Alice, who has assisted with running the business since its inception. Despite being on the premise practically seven days a week, the women continue to find inspiration in their love for their customers and genuine enjoyment of their products. In a world of big box stores and corporate retailers, the mother-daughter duo take an intense pride in the personal and customizable shopping experience they are able to offer their patrons.

 

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