Dupuyer Cache: A family affair

Family is an integral part of Dupuyer Cache. Leanne Hayne and sister-in-law Ali Newkirk stand with welcoming smiles. Not pictured, but every bit as involved in the service at Dupuyer Cache, is Newkirk’s sister, Mary Tonkovich of Choteau. Photo by Cynthia Culver

Not too far off the trail is a little store that largely serves the community of Dupuyer and passersby aplenty. Dupuyer Cache can easily be labeled as a town pulse, reflecting life in an area that otherwise seems fairly still.

Open Wednesday through Saturday, Dupuyer Cache is a close second only to the United States Post Office as far as activity goes. Then again that assessment might be more from a local perspective than that of a visitor.

It’s a quaint place just off U.S. Highway 89 yet inviting enough for travelers to stop and see the wonders. It reflects a small town hub; providing a number of services to its clientele.

In terms of vitality, the store is needed in a dwindling area. Families are becoming smaller and when kids go off to college very few will return home to make their livings on the family farm or ranch. The ones that do may start up families, but in this day and age there is a fine line between a hearty span of ages in a community and enough opportunities to keep our young people happy here.

During Grizzly Day 2008, Ali and Robert Newkirk opened their doors for business as Dupuyer Cache. It had been roughly two years since the last time a business offered groceries in town.

Before becoming Dupuyer Cache, the building was used by previous owners as a liquor store. While renovations have occurred since then, the space is now warm, tidy, and segmented in various ways to allow for patrons to find their way around and yet take time examining goods of interest.

Dupuyer Cache is a family affair. Daily operation of the store is a shared commitment by Ali Newkirk, her sister Mary Tonkovich of Choteau, and sister-in-law Leanne Hayne of Dupuyer. While each of the women have a designated space for their respective “knacks” they take turns covering daily business hours over the four-day work week.

Newkirk operates the main convenience store goods, gallery, and locally made gift items. From snacks to local craft items there are too many goods to name, however farm fresh eggs and homemade baked cookies are frequently on hand and deserve special mention.

Tonkovich maintains a book collection of miscellaneous interest topics such as crafting or more significantly, books about the area or written by authors having roots from Dupuyer or surrounding towns.

Hayne has a retail presence displaying Beaverslide Dry Goods yarns; a finished product that appears as eye candy for anyone with the slightest inclination for crafts. In addition to Hayne’s wool products she offers artisan wildflower honey and beeswax candles under her Beaverslide Dry Goods business name. An online storefront keeps her products moving on an international scale.

Perhaps the tell-tale sign that you are in rural Montana is the friendly willingness to help a neighbor out.

Both Newkirk and Hayne were adamant about being available by appointment for those who need something outside of business hours. “People can call us for an appointment to meet them at the store if they need something,” shared Newkirk.

Dupuyer Cache is open all year round, with extended hours in the summer. “At a minimum we are open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” stated Hayne. “The remaining extended summer hours are based on availability of worker schedules,” said Newkirk.

Being small town friendly, the store offers patrons a credit option whereby they can pay a credit to be on the “book”, allowing quick stops to pick things up without having to bring a pocketbook along. While that doesn’t work so well for tourists, it is okay because Dupuyer Cache is also set up to take debit or credit cards and cold hard cash is never refused.

At a crossroads of sorts, the establishment experiences frequent visits from regional travelers between Browning, Heart Butte, Valier, Conrad, Pendroy, Bynum, and Choteau.

For anyone wishing to make a note on contacting Newkirk or Hayne for an appointment outside of typical business hours, call them at 472-3388 or 472-3283 respectively. Dupuyer Cache can be reached at 472-3272.

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