New western store set to open

It takes a savvy business person to recognize a niche in a community, then seize the opportunity to fill it. And though neither Bethany Knudsen or Dustin Spanel has ever owned their own business before, that is exactly what they did. Dustin says he became aware of the opportunity when the western store Way Out West closed. "It left a hole in the community," he says. That is when the wheels started turning in his head of starting a business of his own - and a western store seemed perfect. He solicited the assistance of his girlfriend, Beth, who has a background in retail and this type of market. "I honestly don't remember how we got from just talking about it to this," Beth laughs as she raises her arms and looks around the store. The store - The Outfitter - is set to open next week, and the new owners are putting in long hours getting everything ready to go. Located in the former Jostens building south of Dollar General, Dustin both say they are excited to open and pleased with the location of their new business. "We are happy with the location we found and feel it will really accommodate our customers well," said Beth. Finding a good location for the business was the most difficult step in the process so far, they say. Once that was done, Dustin and Beth had to take the next step - choose vendors and acquire merchandise. They were a little late getting signed up for market, which they attended in Denver. Beth says they met a lot of people there and learned a lot. They also had the chance to meet their local reps and get acquainted, and Dustin says those reps were excited about having the new business in Broken Bow. Both Dustin and Beth come from farming/ranching communities - he grew up in Burwell, she in Valentine. So they were able to draw from that background and their own sense of style to determine the kind of products they want to feature at The Outfitter. "We also did a lot of people watching to get ideas of what people in this area like," says Beth. The Outfitter will carry everything from dress pants for Sunday church, to work jeans; "everyday clothes for everyday people." There will be some baby and children's clothing items available, as well as a few kid's boots. "We want to offer something a little different than what the other stores in town have," says Beth. "It gives good community balance." The Grand Opening for The Outfitter is set for Nov. 23-26, and refreshments will be served to the customers. The availability of merchandise will continue to grow with the store, and Beth and Dustin encourage customers not to be afraid to ask if there is something they are looking for and not seeing in the store. "This is a work in progress and will continue to grow. If you don't see something you want today, come back tomorrow and it may be here," Beth says.