Sanna Clark, owner of Fieldstone, has greatly enjoyed her time as a Main Street business owner and thanks everyone who has supported her over the years. Fieldstone will be closing in mid-August as the lease was not renewed and Clark will be returning to teaching at Shelby Schools. 

“Nine years pass in a blink of an eye. We’ve had a lot of good times, made memories and friends at the bowling alley, but JB and Sarah’s (Chandler) time running Ten Pin Alley has come to an end.”

“The news is beginning to spread, so I’m here to officially announce that I am returning to teaching and will be closing Fieldstone in late August. I have loved working in uptown Shelby these last seven years and I hope everyone will stop in during the next few weeks to say goodbye. Thank you, everyone, for your continued support!”

“As most of you have probably heard, the Roxy is going to be closing in September.”

These are just a few of the posts seen on Facebook letting the residents of Shelby, and those in the surrounding area, know that yet more businesses are closing up shop. Since the start of 2019, Shelby has lost Ringside Ribs, H-O Motor Supply, Shopko and the Creative Needle. With the addition of Fieldstone Mercantile and Office Supply, the Roxy Theatre and Ten Pin Alley being added to the list, well, things are getting scary! 

Northtown Drug has moved in to occupy the building left by H-O, but that still leaves yet another vacant store front on Shelby’s Main Street. The move was a good one for owner, Ann Clark, and her crew, as they now have more room for current merchandise and to expand their inventory in an effort to help close some gaps left by others who have closed.

“It is hard to take on new inventory, but it also makes us stronger,” said Ann. “I will be expanding on office supplies and trying to have what businesses and students need. It’s nice when people let me know what they need, it helps with deciding what to carry.”

Ann praises the Merchants Association for being such a big supporter for local businesses and shared that when we lose businesses, it breaks down that a bit as well.

“I hate to see this happen. We try to pick up and keep what someone else has had to let go,” said Ann. “It’s hard, but in some ways it makes us stronger as a community, because we have to pull together. This makes us work together, makes us stronger and gives us the opportunity to expand on what we have. I try to keep a positive spin on things.”

Trying to keep things positive is on Sanna Clark’s agenda as well. While making the decision to close up shop was not an easy one, the upside is she will still be active in the community as she is returning to teaching at Shelby Public Schools.

“This building is going to be leased to the title company,” explained Clark. “That meant I was faced with the decision of moving to another building. Knowing I had to move made me re-evaluate things and with the opportunity given to go back to teaching, I chose to return to Shelby Public Schools to remain active in the community.”

Clark agreed that, as a business owner, it is scary to see this happening in the community. She is hoping the community can band together to find solutions to keep this from happening more. She is also being proactive in trying to keep what she offers in the community, visiting with other business owners to see if they could take on some of what she has to offer. 

“And the framing part of my business will still be open part time,” said Clark. “I plan on continuing to do that in the basement of Shelby Floral and Gift on the weekends.”

Clark encourages residents to participate locally, that when you get involved in your community, shopping locally follows.

“When you participate locally it’s just natural to shop local,” said Clark. “Be more involved and you are invested in your community. Shop local!”

Ten Pin Alley and Casino managers, JB and Sarah Chandler, are doing what they can to sell the business, reducing the price drastically, in an effort to have it not just close down.

“I want the bowling alley to exist,” said Sarah. “I don’t want it to just close down. It needs someone more mechanically inclined to take it on, it is beyond my range. We have been looking for someone to buy it, for awhile now. Closing was not our plan, but when JB was offered a teaching job in Philipsburg, this is something that just came together.”

Sarah has been homesick for the Missoula-area for years and the couple had already decided that at some point that is where they would retire. When JB was offered a teaching job in Philipsburg the couple decided to the time was now.

“I’ve been homesick for years, so when this job was offered to JB, he took it,” said Sarah. “But the bowling alley really is an asset to the community and I don’t want to see it just close. Someone with mechanical abilities would be able to do it, the price has dropped significantly, and if someone was willing to take it on I would stick around for a month and train them. The casino will be open through August, the bowling alley is available for parties by appointment. I’m really hoping someone will step up and buy it. I want the bowling alley to exist.”

While shopping online has become the norm, is convenient and saves money, in the long run it really doesn’t and it hurts the community. With local businesses closing, money and jobs leave the communities we call home. Last minute supplies needed to finish the school project or a household chore that needs fixed now cannot arrive soon enough when ordered.  Some might feel it is too little too late, but that is not the case. Shop the businesses Shelby does have, support the local merchants as they strive to expand their inventory and offer the community what it needs. They are working to help you, return the favor and support them.

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