Enjoying the Joy of General Montana Shopping

My husband may have thought that I had met someone else. What else could I do to fly Interstate 90 to a city whose population is smaller than my daughter’s high school class?

Although I have lived in Bozeman for about 28 years, there is something disturbing about Fishtail, Mont., A small town of about 250 inhabitants. But no one else loves it, and neither is it gorgeous or bright night life. The attraction – albeit unbelievable – may be Fishtail General store.

If you are driving Fishtail, you should not forget the store: It is one of two or three businesses in town (depending on whether you are reading a letter), and it is obvious.

Founded in 1900, this business is a general store opening in Montana’s oldest. Owned and maintained by Katy Martin for the past 22 years, the store is a staple in this rural area. “Katy is a force for strength and generosity,” said Nan Sollo, a longtime client. “This store is a work of love.”

At 72, Katy never stops moving – except to greet her clients. Her manager, Melissa Husted, likens her to a hummingbird: going all the time.

And even though I’m not in the worst form, I still try hard to go with it, flipping through tabs on Gatorades and chasing it around the store as I enjoy things. the nature of the negative image. Perhaps I tried to convince myself, that it would be best to convey his position of movement regularly.

The store attracts people from all walks of life – from breeders and miners to executives and doctors. Katy said, “We get locals from our city as well as visitors from the state and the city.”

But it is almost something you can not see here. Some are what you can expect: milk, sodas, beer, chips, toothbrushes, tampons. Others, such as bolts, bolts, nails and screws, are sensible and provide some relief: “We try to get what people may want to keep from going to town to fix things,” Katy said. .

And you can also find freshly baked bread, yard cheese, steak and sausage, baby clothes, dog treats, toys, accessories, toys, handmade soap, games, Spam. and fresh fruit, local art, homemade peanut butter, beer, camping, fishing and hunting equipment, PVC for sprinkler, gasoline, reflective shirts and mining boots.

Yes, mining shoes. Stillwater Company, owned by Sibanye-Stillwater, an international mining company, 22 kilometers from the general market, went down to Nye Road. (The company also operates a nearby East Boulder mine.) Good neighborly agreements signed between the mining company and the association of the environment and citizens help protect water quality and prevent pollution company. It has also created a balance between the mining industry and the surrounding communities.

“A good neighbor’s contract is a win,” said Doug Ezell, a longtime client. “It preserves the beauty and lifestyle of Fishtail and the surrounding area and allows mines to trade in it.”

The general store and minefield relationship began 15 years ago when, at my client’s request, the store began offering breakfast, lunch and dinner.

At around 3:30 every morning, shopkeepers arrive to prepare for the first round of mining, which flies like a flock of birds at sunrise – n between 5:30 am and 6:15 am.

Miners gather their hot coffee, covered burritos with snacks before heading off the road to Nye – a molten spot in the sky – as they go out for a day. in the world. Miners often stopped working at the store around 7am in the evening.

When greeted and asked how it was doing, one night miner, Austin Jensen, simply said, “It’s going blind.” (His eyes are still changing as the light on the ground.)

Later, the program turns: The miners begin their day, and the miners finish their day. Served on those hours are hamburgers, sandwiches, Mexican food, pizzas, homemade cookies and more.

Shepherds are also welcome here.

“Every day, a herder can be a herd, a moving cow, a herd of cows,” Melissa, store manager explained. “We have a lot of ranchers around here who come in to buy food, snacks, water and beer to help the crew.”

You do not have to stay in the store long enough to understand that everyone is included.

I saw Chase Anderson and Brett Heggie, two day laborers, or “vegetarians,” at the store adding hot food to burritos for breakfast ha. Their job, as they describe it, is to detect diseases such as the sale of ticks or pink eyes in cattle individually among the herd.

It was a pleasure to hear what the cowboys did on the popular Yellowstone TV series. “Taylor Sheridan” – writer and director – “did a great job portraying a small part of the real West,” Brett said. “The show has shed some light on the fact that good cowboy farmers are still here every day, doing the necessary work to keep the farm alive and well.”

While I was around the store, I quickly became friends with Katy’s stepson, Kirk Martin, the owner of Fishtail Grind, which he founded with Luke Whall in the general store in 2017. Kirk and Luke got married. April in court in 2017. Columbus, Mont.

I have met many athletes: Sherry Winn, speaker, writer, coach and two-time Olympic athlete at the same team; John Dinsdale, owner of Beartooth Concrete, who told me that his wife had recently died; Jan LaForge Flanagan, Crow woman who told me she got married recently.

Bill Kalyn, a park manager, visits Canada. On the phone when I photographed her, she laughed and said she was getting a lot of ribbing for a photo session. “We love going to the store,” he said, adding that Katy keeps some unique items in stock. One that caught his eye was a beer mug. He said he runs around with your drink and looks like a small sleeping bag. His wife has a huge selection of cards.

The products in the store deserve attention. Probably the biggest thing I take is that customers are expressing the joyful spirit of the place.

Katy says: “People are comfortable here. They stood in a line of communication. It doesn’t have to be big. They share their stories and what is happening in their lives. That makes us even more empathetic. ”

He added, “The fact that we have a good diet does not hurt.”

Janie Osborne is a photographer based in Bozeman, Mont. You can follow his work Instagram.

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