Montana C-store Doubles as Neighborhood Hub

EDEN, Mont. — Eden Market never had intentions of being a convenience store.

When Maarika Amado-Cattaneo bought the old Outback Country Store on Lower River Road in Eden, she wanted it to be more than a place people stopped at to avoid a 5-mile drive to Great Falls, Mont., reported the Great Falls Tribune.

"I never intended this to be a convenience store," Amado-Cattaneo said. "Hense, the 'Market' behind 'Eden.' I wanted this to be a neighborhood grocery store."

She liked the concept of shopping for fewer items more often, so she designed the store to encourage a sense of community and to make it more reminiscent of corner stores in large U.S. cities and in Europe.

"This has always been a convenient location to go when it's a weekend and you don't want to go into town or you wake up and need some coffee, milk or eggs," according to Amado-Cattaneo. "What drove me to open this was just, primarily, I wanted something for the community."

Eden Market opened its doors on Dec. 21 and attracts business from Eden residents, farmers and homeowners in the area's new developments on Lower River and Wilson Butte roads.

Currently, the store is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays. It has three employees so far, but may need one or two more depending on how the summer goes, the news outlet reported.

"We're always looking for people because we want to extend to being open every day," Amado-Cattaneo said. "[Locals] can't wait until I open on Sundays."

The market features a deli that serves rotating soup options, baked goods, fresh fruit cups, paninis, pizza by the slice and take-and-bake pizza. The addition of more gourmet options is being considered. The cozy interior includes an eat-in table for regulars, who show up as many as three times a day.

Serving as a neighborhood hub, Eden Market provides a way for people to meet new friends in an area where the closest neighbor may be more than a half-mile away, according to the Great Falls Tribune

"I truly feel the support from this community," said Amado-Cattaneo. "Pretty much everybody knows each other by name here. That's the policy: first name basis."

Amado-Cattaneo adjusts her inventory as customers tell her what they need and want her to carry. She also hopes to host a small farmers market in the summer and barbecues for local patrons, including a second grand opening when the weather warms up.

Amado-Cattaneo feels that the positive feedback from customers makes the long hours worthwhile.

"It was a lot of hard work," she concluded, "but I’m really happy with the way it turned out."

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