By KRISTI ALBERTSON/The Daily Inter Lake
Powder Horn Trading Co.
It’s an eclectic store that bills itself as a modern version of an old-time trading post. The walls are covered with everything from weapons to head mounts to, surprisingly, seed beads and jewelry.
The latter items might seem out of place, but beads have been part of Powder Horn Trading Co. for most of the store’s existence. The store opened in 1987, and, at the request of a customer, Hartley and her husband Bud added beads in 1993.
The customer told them, “You should probably carry beads in here,” and then offered to share all of his beading expertise and information, Cindy Hartley recalled.
The Hartleys took the customer’s suggestion, and the beading business blew up. The popularity has been due in part to the store’s location, she said.
“We’re between two main Indian reservations, so there’s a lot of call for seed beads,” she explained.
Adding beads to the store meant the Hartleys expanded their clientele, she said. Before, there wasn’t much in the store geared specifically toward women.
Now, “wives come in with their husbands and don’t just sit in the corner and twiddle their thumbs. There’s lots for them to see,” Hartley said.
“The combination works very well for us.”
When Powder Horn Trading Co. started offering beads, it also began offering classes, Hartley said. She started taking jewelry-making classes from nationally known instructors she met at bead shows. Her first class taught her how to make beaded earrings with seed beads.
Hartley started invited those instructors to Kalispell to teach sessions, and the classes caught on. At first, many sessions were on beading, but over the years, the classes expanded to include other aspects of jewelry
Now Hartley’s favorite classes to take and to teach are in metalsmithing. She has set up a studio at home that allows her to practice the craft whenever she wants — which is often.
“Every time I have a couple of hours off, I’m home in my studio,” she said, adding that the experience has helped her when she teaches. “I learn a lot from my mistakes. I also learn what works good, too.”
Hartley’s customers seem to share her enthusiasm for metalsmithing; most of the classes Powder Horn offered this fall included metalsmithing aspects. Japanese braiding, enameling and soldering sessions were also offered.
Some faithful customers try every session, Hartley said.
“We have great, great customers. Some take every class,” she said.
Hartley said the store tries to be receptive to what the customers want to learn.
“When they ask for something, if it’s not something I’m familiar with, I put out feelers and find someone who is an expert in that area,” she said.
She also tries to stay on top of trends in jewelry making.
“When I take classes at ... shows, it’s a chance to see what’s new and upcoming in the industry,” she said. “That way, we’re not left behind.”
Powder Horn Trading Co. will offer another slate of classes in the spring, Hartley said. The store tries to offer 10 to 12 classes in its fall and spring sessions.
The final session this season is a free class with Hartley Tuesday. The UFO (unfinished objects) class is a chance for people to bring in their pieces in progress to receive help or inspiration.
The class begins at 6:30 p.m. at the store, located at 2025 U.S. 2 E. in Evergreen.
For more information about Powder Horn Trading Co., visit powderhorntrading.com or call 752-6669.
Kristi Albertson, editor of This Week in the Flathed, may be reached at 758-4438 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.