TORRINGTON – Bear Creek Companies held a ribbon cutting event to celebrate the expansion of their business at 21st & Main on Thursday, April 8.
According to Moriah Brist, manager of the visitor center, the event was hosted by Goshen Economic Development, to introduce the company to more of the community and celebrate their expansion from farmers markets. Brist also said Bear Creek Companies is a new member of Goshen Economic Development.
After cutting a ceremonial ribbon with Goshen Economic Development, owners and sisters Patricia Day and Judith Bartmann talked with guests, answered questions and promoted their products.
According to Brist, about 25 people stopped in from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Day and Bartmann featured their items from different branches of their business. Bear Creek Creations features handmade items the two bring to craft fairs and baked goods. Bear Creek Rubs features locally made spices.
At the event, which was open to the public, visitors were given the opportunity to sample and buy products. They were also offered a gift bag with samples of Bear Creek Rubs and a brochure about the company.
The rubs, made by Day, can be purchased at www.bearcreekrubs.com. Bear Creek rubs and baked goods will be available April 10 and 17 at the Scottsbluff Farmers Market, from June 24 to Sept. 30 at the Torrington Farmers Market and from June 5 to Sept. 24 at Painters Produce in Henry.
Their products are also featured at Family Treasures in the Uptown Scottsbluff shopping center and Vintage Market in Fort Collins, Colo. according to Bartmann.
In 2016, the sisters decided to bring goods to farmers markets as an outlet for their love of cooking and baking.
“Pat and I have always cooked, from 4-H on,” said Bartmann.
Day creates the recipes for the spices featured on their website and at the markets.
According to Day, her spices are made by a good deal of experimenting.
“I just throw whatever looks good in the skillet,” she said.
Day said the most popular rubs have been All American, Mountaintop Garlic and Lemon Pepper. She has had customers love those spices for anything from chicken to casseroles.
Despite often having trouble writing down her recipes (because she doesn’t measure), Day said she does offer recipes to those who ask for them. Several are also featured on www.bearcreekrubs.com.
“When you’ve cooked for as long as we have, we don’t always come out with what we want, but we know what we don’t want,” Bartmann added.
Bartmann said she finds recipes for the company’s baked goods from her grandmother’s cookbook, her mother’s cookbook and the internet. She alters them as needed.
“I just like to experiment with everything,” Bartmann said. “It’s always fun to come across a new recipe and see how that will turn out.”
At the beginning, according to Bartmann, the two didn’t realize how involved they would be in their business today.
Bartmann said recently the two of them were put in touch with the Wyoming Women’s Business Center, an organization that supports entrepreneurs. Bartmann and Day will be featured during May on the center’s website (www.wyomingwomen.org) and social media pages.
“So, the Wyoming Women’s Business Center is dedicated to our mission which is focused on helping Wyoming entrepreneurs, especially women and those who are socially or economically disadvantaged, to achieve their dreams,” said Wendy Fanning, executive director of the center.
“We were so fortunate because we were starting from scratch,” Bartmann said.
Funds and guidance from the organization assisted with professional photography, a graphic designer and mentorship in marketing and bookkeeping.
According to COVID-19 Project Facilitator Veronica Donahue, Bartmann said e-commerce was an area she wanted to focus on, primarily because of the pandemic. Though there were farmers markets this year, she said, they were not well attended.
Day said the most challenging part of owning a small business is the entire process of getting their products from their kitchen to their kitchen to their consumers.
The pandemic ended up opening several doors for this small business. Donahue said Bear Creek Companies was able to take advantage of new resources offered temporarily through funds from the CARES Act.
Currently, with most business still being done at farmers markets, Bartmann and Day hope to one day do a significant portion of business through wholesale contracts.
In the next few years, the sisters hope Bear Creek Companies will be a full-time job for both of them.
“I want it to be to the point where we have to spend our time answering our computer, making more spices and making more baked goods,” said Day.
Fanning emphasized the importance of diversifying Wyoming’s economy, “and one of the ways to do that is through small businesses.”