When Bea and Steve Fisher moved from Los Angeles to Round Mountain, Nevada, they expected a change of pace. While working on their “Round House” and “tiny home,” they soon encountered many of the challenges that locals in this remote region face. Sourcing building materials, fuel pellets, and animal feed when the closest stores are over two hours away. That experience inspired Bea’s Hardware and a business model to help procure needed items for the entire community.
“When we moved to the Big Smoky Valley, we quickly learned to do a lot of stuff ourselves,” explains Steve. “The Big Smoky Valley is a very rural location, with minimal support services. You have to be self-reliant.”
The Big Smoky Valley stretches for hundreds of miles along the foothills of the Toiyabe Mountain Range in central Nevada. About 2,000 families live in the valley, including ranchers, retirees and employees of the local gold mine. It’s not the kind of place where residents can have their groceries delivered through an app.
“What people need here goes way beyond what you usually
stock in your store” says Steve. “Bea learned early on that people needed various animal feeds, everything from different kinds of dog food to goat chow, hay and llama food. In wintertime, people were driving hundreds of miles to get tons of wood pellets for their stoves. Lumber was always in short supply.” We’re all getting older, yet want to remain independent.”
Stores in the immediate area didn’t address the community’s needs. Bea thought a local business could fill the void. A hardware store that stocked hard to obtain items. Supply chains set up to bring residents what they needed. Lumber, fuel pellets and replacement parts. Food and snacks for the occasional meal or treat. And an RV park for road-weary miners to cut down travel times to work.
“Bea realized that we needed a hardware store that was more receptive to what people were doing here,” Steve says. “We also needed a hardware store that was owned by and accountable to locals.”
When they set up shop in 2019, the Fishers immediately joined the Smoky Valley Business Group. While Bea got the store up and running, Steve turned to the community. He worked with the Smoky Valley Business Group and artist Tom Edwards to create a map that would showcase the region’s unique character.
“Most maps of the Big Smoky Valley were just topographical versions done by the U.S. Geological Service,” says Steve. “And Google Maps barely defines any businesses or points of interest. We decided a “birds-eye” view animated map of the area would work best. Locals and tourists love the map, we sell them at the store for $2.”
The new map identifies local landmarks throughout the valley, such as the Round Mountain Gold Mine and the Spencer Hot Springs. It also highlights the local businesses that serve the community, including Bea’s Hardware, Shoshone Market and the Jumping Jack Motel. The map serves as a guide to local residents, tourists and new employees at the local mine. In a region known mostly as a scenic drive, the colorful map reminds people that the Big Smoky Valley is also a destination.
“There’s more here than meets the eye,” Steve says. “We wanted people to know what’s here. Otherwise, they would just blow by.”
For Bea and Steve, what started as a venture in self-reliance quickly became an approach to connect with their new neighbors.
“Everybody is very supportive here,” says Bea. “When I needed a forklift, a local resident lent me one. When I was repainting the main store, people pitched in to help. When I need more hay, people volunteer their trucks and time to bring some in. When I need a really strong back to relocate one of these commercial freezers, everyone lends a hand. It’s awesome. On the flip side, when they need help repairing their frozen pipes or installing a floor, I Love being able to help solve their problems."
In the Big Smoky Valley, local businesses keep the community going. When they work together on creative campaigns like the Big Smoky Valley map, they lift everyone up.
This story is part of our ongoing ‘Local Memories, Lasting Impact’ series that highlights small, locally owned businesses and the differences they make in their communities.