North 40 Outfitters: Ready to serve the Hi-line
October 30, 2019
Long time residents of the Hi-line can remember the old Big R store location in downtown Havre. The store seemed to have it all when I was a kid growing up in the 1980's.
The store, originally built in 1948 eventually relocated to the Havre Holiday Village Mall, exponentially increasing its space both within the store itself, and outside as well.
For many it seemed the new location was plenty big, then came the re-branding of the store as North 40 Outfitters and the services they could provide to local customers increased greatly once again.
Speculation began almost immediately upon the announcement that K-Mart was closing that North 40 would re-locate. It didn't happen right away but soon enough the announcement was made and after fast and furious remodel the much larger, even bigger, remodeled store opened at its new location this past week.
A few weeks prior to the opening of the new location the Blaine County Journal, along with several other media outlets were invited for a special tour of the new store. Our very own Amanda Haney and Makhayla Farmer were on that tour and shared the information they were given with us.
Drew Steinberger and John Teini led the contingent through the tour. John grew up in Roundup, Montana and still farms and ranches there and he along with the company are deeply rooted in agriculture.
North 40 Outfitters went through a re-branding process a few years back and Drew explains the reasoning behind that, "Big R was synonymous with just farm and ranch and we've definitely evolved into more than just a farm and ranch store."
He pointed out that as visitors move throughout the store they will soon recognize that the farming and ranching industry is still the cornerstone of their business.
"Once we put product in here finally you'll see that is still the majority of what we do, but since we've moved into some of the recreational things, you know the tag-line 'Outfit into work and play' that's really important to not only us as a company but also our customers, and to be able to do both in life and to having that balance," commented Drew. "We want to let people know that when you come in here we can outfit you from the start of your job to when you take off your work hat. When you put on your fun hat we cover you for that as well."
As far as adding employees that is a work in progress, "When we open the store it's going to be a continuation project, so when we leave our current location to come here it's going to be an evolution of putting product in here, finishing some of the final details of the store and that's part of the interesting part of doing a move with in the town rather than opening a new store," stated Drew. "It's going to be an ongoing 3, 6, 12 month project to finalize things. It takes time to feel out what the community needs are. We will be able to flex as we move along and once we find out if we need more or less of a certain product those questions can be answered."
John added that the customer service available to its customers will allow them to get in and out when they are in a hurry, "This area will serve as a hub for what we call 'Buy On-line, Pick up in store'. This should be a great opportunity for the community. Customers can buy something on-line, have it picked and pulled off the shelves, or readily available for them to come into the store to pick it up."
"We'll pick it, pull it and have it ready so they can pick it up and get on their way as soon as possible. Purchases made while customers are out there driving their tractor, or working on their farms, can be purchased and they know that they're going to be ready when they get here," added John.
In adding to the convenience of On-line shopping Drew had this to say, "It's funny because it's small and seems insignificant, but this is one of the really big things about our business as we transition into a new way of buying. Online shopping isn't new , but it's fairly new to us as a farm and ranch retailer. We can now pick and pull and have an order ready in about an hour so that's extremely convenient. It's not just a young person making those purchases, it could be the person doing a $10,000 T post order who wants to drive their semi into town and pick that up. There are lots of buying opportunities for lots of different types of buying needs."
The Holiday Village location was about 40,000 square feet and the new location is right at 91,000 making the option to flex its customer service very doable.
The products contained within the store will include the same as the old location plus a whole lot more, "We will have a full clothing and footwear section complete with a sit and fit location where we have shoes on the wall where you pick out the one you want and we can go back and get your size. We will be keeping the slip on boots where you can come in, grab what you need and be on your way," said John.
"We will also have a seasonal section, plus an archery section as well as an archery range as part of our sporting goods section," John commented. "we have our automotive and farm hardware and our tool section. We'll have pets and tac and animal health and lawn and garden as well as our power equipment center where we'll deal with chainsaws. We will have both Stihl and Husqvarna brands and will be able to service."
Too many customers along the Hi-line Big R, North 40 have always seemed to specialize in Carhartt clothing but this location will have so much more, "I think a lot of people see us as just a Carhartt and wrangler store. I'm going to bore you with a list of brands that we have here in Havre, because I know that its way more than just work: Under Armor, Roxy, Hurley, Hey Dude, Keen, Merril, Levi, North River, Silver Jeans and Muck Boots. A lot more variety and a lot more in that fashion. Maybe Havre hasn't had that kind of selection, certainly customers haven't had it with us before. We're outfitting work and play so they're going to have a lot more now."
The sporting goods section of the new store has it all, "We have a large selection of fishing gear and equipment. All of our fishing reels will be on stands and be accessible for the customer to take a look at and choose. Also we will have a reel winding station where you can choose your line and put on all of the line that you purchase. We will even spool it for you, we line it all up and we get the right backing on there. That's part of all of this whole process that we're really boiling into is a servicing component to taking care of our customers. We know that you guys got busy lives and farmers and ranchers want to get back to the job so we want to try to do whatever we can from this service aspect to help folks to just that. If you're buying something we want to make sure that it's gassed and oiled and ready to use so you don't have to worry about it," said John
"The first time a customer buys a mower, we gas it make sure its ready to go and it blows peoples minds that they don't have to go home and put it together. Again that's separating ourselves (North 40) from a lot of different retailers whether it's other brick and mortar or a dot com retailer, that extra level of service really separates us."
"Our archery shop, same way you can come in get a bow get it all rigged up and shoot it in our 30 yard indoor range," said Drew. "We have hi def cameras so you'll be able to see your target from down range," added John.
"This gives people not only a good try before you buy option, but if you're looking for something to do in your off time or when it starts getting dark at 4:30 pm, this is something that's a lot of fun to do and really for any age. It's not just for the hunter/archer, it's for anybody who wants to throw arrows down the range," said Drew. "We will have hourly rates, but don't have that nailed down yet, but as far as testing a bow that's free."
North 40 will also be offering Concealed Carry Classes, "That is something that we currently do and will bring over. We work with a third party called Legal Heat, and they actually run the classes. That's something in all 10 stores and we continue to have in this new location," commented Drew.
The new location has a Community Room where they can host events among other things. "We want to host classes like we do with Legal Heat, we've done everything from 4H classes on how to raise certain show animals, so any of sorts of classes. Also in this room we want to be able to let the community use it, so if you have a class that you want to host and it works with our schedule we can do that and the room holds about 50 people."
North 40 is committed to small town rural America, "That hollowing out of rural America is a real thing, and doing something like this is not only big for us, its big for a region like the Hi-Line or like Great Falls. We're in some really small markets in Washington and we're definitely a cornerstone of a lot of those communities. I do a lot of the sponsorships locally for each market and I can tell you that we invest heavily into a lot of those things as much as we possibly can," added Drew.
There is so much more the store has to offer, Automotive, Outdoor Grilling, plants and patio supplies. The family owned business is committed to serving everyone in the community to the best of their ability. Stop in for a visit, ask a question and get an answer, it's worth your time.