As you have probably noticed, North Bent Street is suddenly a very busy place, with new businesses and several relocations. Powell Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jaime Schmeiser said a revival of retail shops in downtown is underway.
Mountain Spirit Habitat for Humanity has opened an outlet called Habitat’s Shop on Bent at 225 N. Bent St. Habitat had been renting a smaller space on South Day Street before moving to the new location, where it has 7,000 square feet.
It’s laid out like a traditional retail business and also offers a free Wi-Fi hot spot and free coffee, said Camara Clifton, the Habitat chapter’s executive director.
“We want them to treat downtown for the wonderful community spot it is,” said Clifton, who also lives downtown. “The more people who congregate, then the more vibrant our community is.”
A blessing, grand opening and ribbon cutting took place Oct. 24. Four pastors, Gerry Parker of the Powell Church of Christ, Matt Willson from the Harvest Community Church in Powell, Audrey Rydbom of Trinity Lutheran Church in Cody, and Doug Sczerba of Cody, who is retired, provided readings, blessings and prayers at the ceremony.
Clifton said the new store shows an effort to keep Bent Street “vibrant” while also displaying the generosity of the Powell Community.
The store aims to combat the image of Powell businesses shutting down early by staying open until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, starting next week. College students want to live in a community with more to do at night, so Clifton said she wants to help set an example.
It will also host a “pop-up store” with the Rocky Mountain Rustlers 4-H Club at 221 N. Bent St., which is vacant, on Nov. 15-16. A “pop-up store” commonly uses vacant spots for a short-term event for a sale, promotional event or similar type event.
It helps the club and also spotlights the building, she said.
Habitat also does many other events for people in the community, Clifton said.
“We do all that because it’s the right thing to do and it helps build our community,” she said. “Otherwise we’re just another spot on the road.”
Downtown is a warm, and welcoming place, Clifton said, and she wants to help make it stronger.
Brock and Sasha Ninker, both Powell natives, assumed ownership of Hansel & Gretel’s, a downtown bar and restaurant, on Oct. 14.
The Ninkers have named Mike Mercade general manager. He also runs the Prairie Bar & Grill in Cowley for the couple. The Pennsylvania native has several years in the bar and restaurant business.
“In order to run a successful restaurant, you have to devote yourself to it,” Mercade said. “You have to almost live there.”
He said Hansel & Gretel’s customers will see a lot of changes. One noteworthy one was the introduction of breakfast, which is now served from 6-11 a.m. Monday through Saturday. The business has been closed on Sundays, but that will soon change, and breakfast will be available then, as well as other food, drink and fun.
Mercade said nightly specials are planned as well, from drink specials to games to live entertainment on weekends.
“We want to make this a more happening bar,” he said.
Mercade said the main change will be additions and improvements to the menu, along with a new emphasis on better service. Almost all the former employees are still on the job, and they are “doing wonderfully” with the new management.
Brock Ninker, who first came to Hansel & Gretel’s as an infant, said he’s excited to own and operate a business in his hometown.
“I’m loving it,” he said.
The other changes in downtown Powell include both new businesses and relocations. Schmeiser said she is glad to see more retail shops come into the downtown area.
“This is the first big shift since I have been here, and that’s been a year now in September,” she said. “It’s a good thing for retail businesses.”
Buffalo Billies Toys & Gifts, now located at 443 W. Coulter Ave., also is headed downtown.
Vicki Olson plans to relocate her business to 246 N. Bent St., the old Wilkin’s Jewelry location, after the holidays. Buffalo Billie’s moved to Powell in January after 12 years in Cody.
According to its Facebook page, it is now a “more compact store with new merchandise” and will offer new merchandise, including model airplanes and cars for young model enthusiasts, which Olson said she has ordered. The store will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
She said recent openings on North Bent Street allowed her store and other shops to relocate there.
“It’s kind of nice for a retail business to get to move downtown,” she said.
Wyoming Wireless opened its 11th store in the state in Powell on Friday. The company, which specializes in Verizon products and services, started in Riverton and has expanded across the region.
Steven MacLeay, store supervisor, said owner Dan McDonald has emphasized customer service to his employees, and has focused his interests on smaller communities.
“He likes to be the local connection for Verizon service, so he likes to get into the smaller towns so people have an option so they don’t have to drive to Billings or down to Casper to have service,” MacLeay said. “It was really refreshing to have that kind of support from the owner.”
Wyoming Wireless will share space with two other businesses at 227 N. Bent St. It is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
The store opened with two employees, and a third will start shortly, MacLeay said. In addition to Verizon products and services, the store has access to electronics from tablets to laptops that can be shipped in, he said.
The Golden Buffalo Fine Jewelry, a Cody jewelry store, is opening a location in the same building, as is Electric Graffix, which is relocating from 227 N. Bent St.
The Golden Buffalo Fine Jewelry owner Larry Gorchesky is aiming for a Nov. 15 opening.
“The Golden Buffalo specializes in unique quality fine jewelry,” its Facebook page states. The store’s employees have more than a century of combined jewelry-making experience, and are pleased to work with customers to educate them on “purchasing diamonds and colored stones for exquisite bridal rings as well as designing one-of-a-kind custom pieces.”
Electric Graffix, which opened in 1999, offers signage and business promotional solutions in the Big Horn Basin.
Larry Davis founded the company in downtown Powell and has customers in both Wyoming and Montana, offering a wide variety of sign specialties, including banners, outdoor and indoor signage, sticker printing, vehicle graphics and wraps, window lettering, billboard printing, channel letters and LED signs. It also provides sign installation and maintenance.
The Bookstore is moving one door down and joining forces with Ellar, a computer repair business.
Kim Riedinger, who has operated The Bookstore with her mother, Jeanie Henderson, for three years, said the shift will start on Nov. 1. The business, which offers new, used, rare and special-order books, will go from 109 N. Bent St. to 111 N. Bent St.
Ronnie Wolfe closed his computer business for October but it will reopen in cooperation with The Bookstore.
Riedinger said computers will be taken in at the location, and Wolfe, who has another job, will do repairs at nights and on weekends. The combined business will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
Meanwhile, a new tattoo parlor is planned at 109 N. Bent St.
Carrie Ballinger of of Lovell has been a tattoo artist for more than a decade, and she used to do tattoos at her home in Greybull. Once she and her husband moved to Lovell, she decided to look for a new location, and chose Powell.
“I would like to open by Nov. 15,” said Ballinger, who said she is still “working on the name” of the shop, which will be open seven days a week. She said she plans to be open “later hours,” since that is what she has heard customers want.
There already is one tattoo business in Powell, but Ballinger said she feels there is room for a second.
“I don’t know that it needs one, but the plus side is choices,” she said. “I will be doing tattoos and body piercings and bringing in cosmetic tattooings.”
Mike and Carisa Wood own Eagle Recovery, a towing firm that was founded in Cody but has now opened a branch in Powell.
Mike Wood said he was “was born and raised in a wrecker, in the body shop and in the mechanic shop.” His dad started Woody’s 24-hour Towing in Cody in 1968, and Mike rode across the Basin with his dad while he grew up.
“Mike and Carisa have extremely high standards in every aspect of their business,” they state on their web page. “They instill that in their employees as well.”
Schmeiser said more changes are coming.
Sunlight Discount Mattress and Appliance has closed, since the owners have moved. That building at 221 N. Bent St. will be for sale, she said.
Ramblin’ Rose’s Emporium, an antique store, will close its downtown location at 139 N. Bent St., Schmeiser said, but the business will continue from the owner’s home.