Have you started Christmas shopping? Some of you are undoubtedly saying, “Seriously, it is not even Halloween or Thanksgiving, for heaven’s sake!” Nevertheless, Christmas is coming and that means the Cut Bank Holiday Bazaar is also right around the corner.
The bazaar this year is being held on Saturday, Nov. 2 at the Cut Bank High School. As in year’s past, the bazaar promises lots of great Christmas shopping from a hundred or more vendors, giving holiday shoppers an abundance of items to choose from.
Kim Winchell is not a new vendor bringing goodies to the Holiday Bazaar, but she is a vendor bringing a new product to the table this year.
Her new company, Montana Mutt, has hit the market by storm this past year, keeping Kim and her family busy making dog treats and dog gifts for your favorite pooch or a friend’s four-legged best buddy.
“Coming up with the name Montana Mutt actually took all of a minute,” Kim confessed. “There is so much pride in our state, the shape, the name, everything about it. I knew I wanted Montana in the name and then thought of another word for dog that starts with an ‘m,’ mutt. It flowed like velvet!”
Once she made sure it was not a name anyone else had scooped up, it became official that her new business would be called Montana Mutt.
Right now, Montana Mutt is all about homemade dog treats, paw and nose balm and fleece tug toys. “My treats are center stage with all natural, simple, clean ingredients. No chemical preservatives, but because of my baking process, they still have a great shelf life and still smell fresh for weeks,” Kim said. “I use five ingredients or less in each batch, which people love to see as they read the ingredients. My current flavors are pumpkin, peanut butter, growlers - which are made with Cut Bank Creek Brewery spent grain - and in small batches, I have gluten and grain free made with coconut and almond flour.”
Kim uses only Wheat Montana’s Prairie Gold Whole Wheat in all her treats, making them even more Montana-ish. “I could easily buy a 25-pound sack of bleached white flour from a big box store for around eight dollars. It is easy to get. Getting my hands on a 50-pound sack of Wheat Montana at wholesale price, no easy task. The mill is in Three Forks and that is the only location to get their true wholesale prices, so I have had to get very creative to keep using Wheat Montana’s product and keep my costs reasonable as well. I won’t budge on that,” she declared.
Her doggie treats have been approved by the Department of Agriculture to be sold in pet stores and they are fast becoming a hit. “Montana Mutt treats and paw balm are available in several stores in Montana," Kim said.
All of her Montana Mutt items are reasonably priced with treats being $6 a bag or $8 for the gluten-grain free treats. The paw balm is $13 for a two-ounce tin, which will last for several months. “And I will have ready-to-go gift sets at my booth at the bazaar this year, too,” she added.
The paw balm is a unique creation that helps keep the cold from hurting dogs’ feet during the winter and it stops the heat from causing problems for them when sidewalks get horribly hot in the summer.
“The balm is a natural barrier between chemicals and salt on the road and can help to prevent as well as heal cracked paws depending on the ingredients used,” she said. “I researched dozens of recipes before deciding on the ingredients that I wanted to use and got to work on a recipe. The mix of organic ingredients I use not only provide a protective barrier from the elements, but also have anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties to heal. And it is 100 percent safe to be licked off paws, which pups always do when home from a walk.”
And do not forget, she also makes fleece tug toys, with and without tennis balls. “Just a fun, colorful splash of color to add to my booth. It’s a great stocking stuffer for the holidays too.”
Montana Mutt came about thanks to the Winchell house getting a puppy in the fall of 2018. “The puppy was a first as a family and a big deal for a lot of reasons, mainly because I haven’t always been a dog’s biggest fan,” Kim admitted.
But then the Christmas season came along last year and Kim and her daughter spent some time making dog treats for their new member of the family. And before she knew it, Kim was looking for cute ways to package the treats she made not only for their dog, but for her friends that had dogs too.
It was then that it struck her, “We all fill our stockings for our pets, but there were no dog booths at our bazaar. So, in January of 2019, I decided I was going to do another booth for this fall’s bazaar and sell dog treats.”
Even though Kim’s doggie goodies are making their way into stores around Montana, she still wanted to bring these wonderful treats, toys and balm to the bazaar, reaching even more people.
“The bazaar has become a better place to sell, because it has become a better place to shop. Vendors come in from all over Montana to sell and they are right next to the middle schoolers making and selling things to raise money for class trips,” Kim said. “These things bring in more shoppers which makes it a great venue to sell.”
She continued, “The bazaar is a great place to sell because of the things the Chamber does to bring in shoppers. The shopping bucks, the raffles, the prizes for spreading the word about the bazaar, all these things bring in shoppers, which tells the vendor that it is worth their while to do this show.”
When Kim was a non-vendor, she liked the bazaar because she could find “inexpensive things to buy just to help that vendor and to fill stockings. I felt I was supporting, one person, one family, one kiddo. That is impactful! Once you are a vendor, you never attend as a buyer with the same perspective.”
Whether there as a vendor or a shopper, the bazaar has something for everyone. And this year, something for your doggie friends too, thanks to Montana Mutt jumping into the fun.