After working almost three decades as a teacher and in other roles for the Three Forks School District, Pam Carey is prepared for a transition – not into retirement but into small-business ownership.
Carey opened her gift shop, Legacy Trading, on Main Street in Three Forks on November 24. That was Small Business Saturday, a national event where entrepreneurs across the country open the doors to market their products and services.
For now, Legacy Trading is open Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Carey said this week that she plans to also be open on Wednesday by about the first of March. Her teaching duties keep her at school during some shop hours, so Carey gets help at the shop from her sister, Lana Torrance. Carey’s daughter, Jessica Oehmcke, greets customers on Friday. Another employee, Linda Bryon, builds wood furniture sold at the shop.
Carey said she adopted a multi-tiered approach as Legacy Trading’s business model:
• Local artisan work
• Products made in Montana
• Regional products
• Collectible and vintage items that people bring in for sale on consignment
The first category includes leatherwork, pottery, jewelry, paintings and other artwork. It’s not displayed in a set section but rather “eclectically arranged,” according to Carey.
“It’s a place for them (artists) to bring their work and showcase it consistently,” instead of the hit-and-miss pattern of creative people bringing their work to festivals, markets and other venues, she said.
Carey said word of her shop has traveled and she’s had inquiries from artisans in Great Falls, Kalispell, Amsterdam and other Treasure State locales.
For Montana-made products, Carey prefers goods “made with fashion” rather than those that come from larger manufacturing lines.
Her regional products include jams, jellies and lavender creations, mostly from Northwest states.
Carey described her consignment offering as “dynamic – it’s always changing.”
“We have hand-crafted, Montana-made products that will please men and women. We have something for all ages and both genders,” she said.
Carey has resigned from the district, effective at the end of the 2018-19 school year. Her 28-1/2-year career has included positions as resource aide, Title I instructor, classroom teacher and summer cleaner. Like most educators, she also took on extra-curricular duties, among them Eagle Mount ski coach for special-needs students, ticket selling for sports events, junior class advisor and concessions organizer. She supervised students on trips to Washington, D.C., as the school’s Close Up advisor.