By Ron VandenBoom
Its not a dollar store or even a $1-$10 store. It is a store where 70 percent of the items cost $1, but store owner Linda Leitheiser would just prefer it came to be known by its real name Big City Discounts.
Leitheiser, who opened the store in the Havre Holiday Village Shopping Center on May 18, said that while most of the items in her store sell for $1 she hopes to bring in giftware, Montana souvenirs and T-shirts that will cost more than $1. She also wants to carry Christmas gifts and toys that will cost more than $1.
Currently, the store carries assortments of over-the-counter medicine, candles, hair care products, paper goods, socks, trash bags, party goods, toys, hardware, kitchen items, and a line of seasonal products that will change as holidays and seasons change.
These are not all of the products Big City Discounts carries, but they are a start that Leitheiser expects to build on until the store is completed sometime around the middle of June.
At that time, she said, a grand opening will be planned, but for now she is hesitant to predict a date or make any plans.
So far weve just had a great welcoming from Havre, Leitheiser said of her first few days of operation. Weve just had so many welcomes. Theyve just been wonderful.
It has not taken long for potential customers to hear about the new store in the Havre mall as streams of curious shoppers have been steady through her door.
We havent advertised any, it has just been word of mouth, she said.
The appeal of the store is partly due to the fact it has something for everybody.
I think we appeal to any age because weve got toys for the little one and products that everybody uses, she said, adding that the store also appeals to any economic bracket.
Leitheiser opened her first store four years ago in Great Falls. There was only 900 square feet of display space in her original store and she quickly discovered she needed more room.
She found a new location of 1,700 square feet, also in Great Falls, and eventually learned that it too was to small to accommodate her growing enterprise.
This is the last move, Leitheiser said surveying the 3,400 square-foot space in the shopping center. My family says This is it, any more moves and theyre out of here.
But Leitheiser admits that owning a string of Big City Discount Stores is something she would maybe someday like to see.
So why did Leitheiser decide to move her operation from Great Falls to Havre?
We had just been looking around for a larger spot and we came to the mall, she said. The mall was very helpful just wonderful.
Leitheiser said she expects to continue living in Great Falls and come to Havre on the weekends to check on things and work in the store. A manager and soon-to-be-hired crew of about eight employees will actually run the Havre store.
Six to eight employees will initially be needed for the store due to the longer mall hours, Leitheiser said. But she also expects as business increases she will need to go to two-person shifts adding some additional people to the payroll.