CHOTEAU — Jamie Foster’s lifelong dream faces uncertainty and several question marks as opening day looms on the horizon, but Foster is determined to come out of this pandemic with a successful business.
She has had to adjust some of her business model and her plans for the types of products that will fill the shelves when the store opens on April 7.
“I definitely have a different vision now than when I started,” Foster said. “I wanted to be more niche, more focusing on nutrition and pharmacy, but right now we need staples, we need things that we can put in our bellies that are good for us, so that’s what I’m focusing on is food, right now.”
Some of the challenges are obvious, while others may only be evident to business owners and people familiar with the intricacies of how to run a successful business. For example, with people across the state and the country being told to stay home as much as possible, the amount of foot traffic and the number of visitors to stores like Foster’s Farmacy will likely be low when the store first opens.
Another issue that Jamie has faced is getting shipments from other cities and states. Because she’s located in rural Montana, and bigger companies like Walmart and Sam’s Club have made adjustments in the best interest of the health of their employees and customers, it’s become more difficult for small business owners like Jamie to get supplies and other things from those big stores.
To counteract these challenges, Jamie has done exactly what the Great Falls Development Authority suggested; be flexible.
“Initially I had one manager hired, and that’s something else that a lot of my friends that have small businesses are laying off their employees or closing doors or whatever, so I wanted to be really cognizant of that, so I decided not to hire her right off that bat, and I’ve shrunk my hours down,” explained Foster. “I’m just doing Tuesday through Saturday from noon to six, by myself to start, and then I’ll add her in later if I get busy enough. Mondays I’m going to do private shopping times, so anybody that doesn’t want to come in during normal business hours can just come in and be the only person in the store. It’s a very small store, it’s 1100 square feet, so we’re pushing that a little bit, and I’ll be doing some deliveries, but yeah that’s the biggest change is just more focusing towards staples right now, getting things on the shelf that people in my community need.”
The deliveries are something that Foster is able to do because of her new store schedule. Foster’s Farmacy will be open noon to 6:00 P.M., Tuesday through Saturday. That allows Jamie to make some deliveries to other towns or to people who may not want to leave their homes during this pandemic, and leave the store available to people who would like to shop without interacting with that many people.
It might not be exactly how she dreamt it, but Foster isn’t going to let the Coronavirus pandemic derail her plans.
“I’ve always wanted to own my own business, and I always thought it would be a pharmacy,” Foster said. “Being in retail pharmacies and specifically small-town pharmacies across Montana, I always wanted to own this one in Choteau, but it just never came up, and the last couple years, through my own health journey, I have steered away from traditional medicine and gone more holistic and natural, and that’s what I’ve been doing the last couple years is researching natural pharmacy and whole foods and nutrition, so that’s my passion now, so that’s why I really wanted to do this. I love running my own show.”
You can find more information about the store’s hours, services, and how to reach Jamie on their Facebook page.
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