It’s official, neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow will keep our Independent We Stand team from visiting businesses and talking about how to leverage their local brand. This week we visited 5 cities, in 5 states, in 5 days all while eating, drinking, shopping, and sleeping locally on our Rocky Mountain Road Trip. Apparently, we brought the weather with us because it rained 4 out of our 5 days, but that wouldn’t stop us!
On Monday, we spent the day in Denver, Co. talking to the owners of Big Tool Box, Let ‘Em Have It Salon, Old Western Paint Co., Inc., Retail Minded, the director of History of Colorado and one of the primary architects of Colorado Main Streets. We discussed everything from why it’s important to focus on downtowns across the nation to improving the sustainability of the hair care industry.
Tuesday was interesting. We started the morning leaving Denver and heading to Mac Equipment, then it was off to Casper, WY. We had lunch at Bosco’s Italian Restaurant and then checked out some skimobiles and dirt bikes at Alpine Motor Sports. That’s when we found out the highways to Sheridan, WY closed due to all the snow we were having and we had to scramble. We ended up deciding to drive the 7 hrs straight on to Bozeman, MT instead of breaking up the drive (this meant we were in the car for about 12hrs). It was truly a blessing in disguise! We drove right through the mountains of Boysen State Park and everywhere we looked was breathtaking!
Wednesday was spent in Bozeman. What a beautiful little town! We stayed at The Lark Hotel, and talked to the general manger about why it is important for them to focus on sending people off the property and into the town. Their goal is to have guests see and fall in love with Bozeman—not just hangout out at the hotel! It’s a great concept. We chatted with fellow local lovers and executive directors of the American Independent Business Alliance and Downtown Bozeman. We also interviewed the owners of Kenyon Noble Lumber and Hardware as well as The Paint Factory about why professionals in the home improvement industry should buy their supplies from local stores instead of big boxes. Lastly, w checked out Owenhouse Cycling and learned they have been selling bicycles since the 1800’s!
On Thursday morning we woke up early to snow and made the beautiful drive through a couple of National Forests including Yellowstone National Park to visit Westmart Building Center located just outside of West Yellowstone. Afterwards we continued south to Idaho Falls where we met with husband-wife owners of Ace Hardware and they had some very kind things to say about the work we do at Independent We Stand (they might be our new favorite people). We then headed to MarCellar’s Vintage Wine and Brews and the Idaho Falls Arts Council before calling it a day.
We wrapped up our trip on Friday, in the great city of Salt Lake! We stopped initially at IPACO on our way south from Idaho Falls. Then we interviewed the owner of Speed’s Power Equipment in Salt Lake City. We talked about his family business and hockey. We love hockey and he has three employees that all played hockey in college. We then ended at the awesome Central Ninth Market. This is such a cool little spot with a couple of great restaurants, coffee shop, market, cocktail bar, architecture firm, and Local First Utah all in the same space! It was tempting to stay there all evening, but we were exhausted and luckily found a great local hotel called Little America to end out trip in.
One of our interview questions to everyone was “Why do you love your town?” Every single person talked about the outdoors and nature in their answer. This Rocky Mountain Road Trip was full of crazy weather, but that couldn’t keep us from being awed by the beauty of the country out here! No wonder so many great people work, play, and live in the Rockies. We only wish there was more time and better weather for us to enjoy the outdoors and mountains like the locals. I have a feeling we’ll be coming back one day!