From the outside, it looks like a nondescript warehouse in the vast tract of land between Glacier Park International Airport and the Blue Moon Nite Club outside Columbia Falls.
As one approaches, however, smells of spices fill the air.
The warehouse at 62 Arcadia Way is actually a lot more than a warehouse. It’s a newly established home for back-of-house operations for Seattle-based World Spice Merchants. It’s full of crates of bulk spices and equipment to blend and toast those spices to order and then ship them out to online customers.
Owner Amanda Bevill and her team arrive in the morning to a list of orders that customers have made online in the last 24 hours, and get to work blending, milling, toasting and weighing each purchase to order. They then package the spices and ship them across the country.
“We always struggle with what to call it,” Bevill said. “When we say warehouse it isn’t quite right, because we do so much more here.”
The company, which has a well-known retail space near Pike Place Market in Seattle, was started in 1995. Bevill bought it from the original owner in 2005.
“I’ve been running the spice ship for over 10 years,” Bevill said.
World Spice Merchants always has had an external space it uses to blend, package and ship online orders, and as the business has grown it has had to make that space bigger and bigger. Once it was a 1,500-square-foot garage, then a 3,000-square-foot warehouse, and now the company has a custom-built 6,750-square-foot home here in the Flathead that she said should accommodate them for years to come.
Bevill’s father has lived in Whitefish since 1989, so this has been her second home for much of the last 30 years. That made it a natural destination for a new facility. They began looking in the area about three years ago before purchasing property and working on designing and building.
She is excited about the property because there is better ventilation than they had previously and space to install equipment they’ve never had before. She is hoping they can start smoking their own spices, something they haven’t previously done.
“It’s the most elbow room we’ve ever had and definitely the best air filtration” Bevill said.
Bevill said she would like to expand what she can offer her customers and grow her client base in Montana, but she works hard to maintain the artisanal quality of her products. She is hoping to expand the number of Western Montana restaurants that use her spices in the coming months and establish herself as the go-to for private spice aficionados in the area as well.
“My biggest goal as a business owner is to stay small,” Bevill said. “We want to serve the local market in every way.”
The new warehouse doesn’t have a retail space, but customers can make orders online and then pick them up at the warehouse the next day.
Bevill likens the model to the new trends of ordering groceries online, then picking them up at the store. It’s a trend that has become popular in the area in recent months. She said it also benefits customers in the area because the product will be extra fresh. They will mill the spice to order and then pick it up the very next day instead of sitting in a postal box for a couple of days.
She said customers on the West Coast do face an extra day of shipping now that the warehouse is located in the Flathead Valley instead of Washington, but she tells them it was a quality-of-life move and they always understand. She takes pride in being a family-owned business, and her family wanted to live in Montana.
“We don’t want to get into Costco, we want to go riding in the Bob,” Bevill said, referring to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area.
To encourage the Montana market, they are working on a new Rocky Mountain seasoning blend that will feature juniper. She anticipates it will be on shelves by Christmas.
Bevill is also the co-author of a cookbook that aims to help customers use the spices on their shelf and other unique ones they can buy from her store. She tries to make herself available for questions from customers, too.
Bevill is hosting a grand opening for the new World Spice Merchants facility from 3 to 6 p.m. on Aug. 24 at 62 Arcadia Way. It will feature catered food from Desoto Grill that uses World Spice Merchants spices and a special beer from Bonsai Brewing Project.
Online orders can be made on the company’s website, www.worldspice.com, and picked up at the warehouse from Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for no charge or mailed.
Reporter Peregrine Frissell can be reached at (406) 758-4438 or firstname.lastname@example.org.