Mother-daughter team takes over Montana-made store

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Misty Minnehan, left, and Corri Kuhlin holding her daughter Aryana at the Montana Marie store on Main Street in Kalispell on Friday. (Aaric Bryan/Daily Inter Lake)

The Think Local shop on Main Street in Kalispell is now under new ownership with a new name. The mother-daughter team of Misty Minnehan and Corri Kuhlin recently purchased the store they renamed Montana Marie.

Minnehan and her daughter went into business together more than a year ago selling Montana-made apparel. They had been shopping around at vintage markets when they started thinking about opening a business together. They began creating various Montana-themed designs, which they incorporated onto T-shirts and sweatshirts. Most of their apparel features the Montana outline with varying words and phrases and other unique designs.

Minnehan describes her daughter as the feistier of the two, creating designs that say “Bitchin’” or “Badass” to represent some of the more unique characteristics of Montana, she says.

“It’s Montana apparel with a personality,” Kuhlin said.

Minnehan says that her work is a little more “mellow,” with words and phrases such as “Fearless” or “Dream Big.”

Minnehan and Kuhlin started selling their apparel at events such as the Holiday Extravaganza at Majestic Valley Arena.

“People would always ask us, ‘Where’s your storefront?’” Minnehan said. “We looked around at several different places, and this [Think Local] is the one we fell in love with.”

They were attracted to the charm of Main Street, Minnehan said. But when the pair approached the previous owner of Think Local, Cathi Spence, about selling their apparel, Spence told them she would soon be closing the doors on her store.

“It took us about one week to decide that we were going to take it,” Kuhlin said.

Minnehan and Kuhlin officially became the owners of the newly-named Montana Marie store on April 1 and opened the doors a few days later.

“Montana is where our heart is, but family is everything,” Minnehan said of how they chose their name. “We have four generations — grandmother, mother, daughter and granddaughter — all with the middle name of Marie.”

Montana Marie will still follow the same business model as Think Local — opening its space up to many different artists, and they are hoping to bring in new artists as well. Currently represented at the store are more than 30 artists, primarily from the Flathead Valley but also from around the state. They also plan to continue selling only products that are made in Montana.

“We keep it local and in the community as much as possible,” Minnehan said.

Kuhlin said they hope to “expand the family” even more, and that they will be attending markets this summer in search of more artists.

Minnehan said they have made an effort to keep the artists the center of attention — keeping the various displays at the front of the store.

“It’s important to us that people realize it’s more than just clothing,” Minnehan said. “We don’t want the artists to be forgotten.”

Kuhlin says that they will also be featuring a different artist each week, posting to socail media and sharing more about their work and the artist’s story.

“We want to share what started their adventure,” Kuhlin said. “This week’s artist [Suzi with Studio 597] said that when she went into JoAnne’s, a lightbulb popped up and she saw it as this magical place where she could make Pinterest come to life.”

“Every person is so passionate about their stuff,” she added.

The mother-daughter team also hope to rent out a back room, which has a full kitchen, for a restaurant or a cafe.

“It has been amazing the support we’ve had from downtown local businesses,” Minnehan said. “It’s been exciting to be able to do this with my daughter.”

Montana Marie is located at 140 Main Street in Kalispell and is open from 10 a.m. to around 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information visit https://www.montanamarie.com/ or go to their Facebook page, @MontanaMarieGifts.

Reporter Alyssa Gray may be reached at 758-4433 or agray@dailyinterlake.com.

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