After almost a year of planning and building, Murdoch’s Ranch & Home Supply opened a new store Wednesday morning in Columbia Falls, Montana.
“We’ve had folks knocking on the door for four weeks,” anxious to take a peek around, said Jason Prewitt, Columbia Falls Murdoch’s manager. When he finally did open the doors at 7:30 am sharp, he greeted a line of customers, some of whom called him by name.
But this alone is not the story I want to leave with you. We are thrilled to announce a new store, but anyone who knows anything about small towns in Montana and elsewhere, knows that a community’s story started long before we came to town… and if you’re lucky, you get to play a role in it.
“Murdoch’s is an extension of what’s been in their hearts for a long time,” Tina told us, referring to residents in the valley. Tina raised three children in Columbia Falls, and she just joined the Murdoch’s team in the clothing department.
Columbia Falls is a small town of 4,800 in the northwest part of the state, situated at the west entrance to Glacier National Park.
It’s a community with a rich history. One might even consider it a textbook tale of western expansion, including early settlers, logging, mills, private investment, and the Great Northern Railroad.
Today, nearly two million visitors pass through Columbia Falls annually on their way to Glacier. If you’ve never been, Glacier is arguably our nation’s most scenic place. Suffice it to say, it’s stunning, and Columbia Falls is how you get there.
“We’re the Gateway to Glacier National Park.” It’s a phrase that rolls off locals’ tongues with ease; they know how culturally relevant this treasure is.
But locals don’t stop there.
It’s how the Park and the surrounding terrain impact their lives that resonates most. Hunting, fishing, hiking, boating, skiing, forestry, agriculture: they list off topics quicker than I can keep up. Almost everyone describes their lives as “outdoorsy,” and I believe it.
The other common thing I hear is that they’re excited to have a store so close. Many of the folks we chatted with are accustomed to making the 35-mile round trip to the closest store in Kalispell.
“Nobody in town has bought a pair of socks for six months waiting for you guys to open,” joked Dave, a resident who was getting his hair cut at the very popular Barber’s Shop on Nucleus Avenue. When we happened upon the shop while walking downtown, I couldn’t resist stopping by to see what the buzz was. “Their socks are worn out,” he laughed.
So, while Murdoch’s opening a store is exciting and newsworthy, it isn’t the beginning of this story. It isn’t the end, either. It’s a part of this town’s story.
Many businesses have come and gone before Murdoch’s, and many more will come and go after us. And while the Columbia Falls Murdoch’s store opening is undoubtedly exciting and newsy (it’s all we’ve been talking about at Murdoch’s) please know that our company is thankful to those who have made space in your community’s story for us.
“You couldn’t buy a pair of jeans in Columbia Falls,” said Rocky, a customer who works in the Park. That’s a problem for a forester. Well, now you can.
Cheers to a fresh chapter in a town whose story is really a page-turner.
Special thanks to the Barber’s Shop for letting us film!