Mother-daughter team run Ben Franklin Crafts
January 22, 2019
Editor's note: This is the third in a series of long-standing locally owned businesses. Anyone who has a business they think would be appropriate for the series can call Tim Leeds at 265-6795 or email him at [email protected]
The family owned craft store, Ben Franklin Crafts, has been run by Sherry and her daughter Megan Obrecht for the past few years, though Sherry has worked there since it opened.
Sherry Obrecht said that Ben Franklin has become a part of the Havre community, providing a creative outlet for people and a place where they can buy gifts locally.
"We would like to be more than just a gift store or a fabric store," she added.
Megan Obrecht said being a family-run business, with her and her mother working together, gives the store a more personal feel. She added that being a family business also lets them be able to do things that corporate stores may not be able to for their friends and neighbors and for building up the community.
Locally owned businesses are more involved with their community, more invested, Obrecht said, and are able to give back and help the community grow.
Sherry Obrecht said that when she bought the business from former owner Cecil Durbin in 2012 she was hoping her daughter would want to be involved in the future and now that Megan is, she is glad.
Megan Obrecht wanted to come and work full time in the store right after high school, Sherry Obrecht said, but she made her go to college first.
Megan Obrecht graduated with a bachelor's degree in marketing and management from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, in 2016.
"The hardest thing was when she came back after getting a four-year degree people they'd say, 'Why did you come back to Havre and waste your degree, you know you could do something way better?'" Sherry Obrecht said. "We need good people here to run things, too."
Megan Obrecht said she was happy to come back to Havre, adding that she lived here her whole life and wanted to work with her mom in the store.
She said she has been working in Ben Franklin since she was a child, coming in to help bag items when the store was owned by former owner Cecil Durbin. Durbin would give her gift cards for the time that she worked, she said, adding that she thought that was cool.
She also worked as a lifeguard for two years during high school, Megan said, although she decided that she wanted to work at Ben Franklin with her mom. She said that when she first started, she worked in the frame shop in the store. Megan came home during her summers off while attending college to work part-time with her mom, she added.
Sherry Obrecht said it is fun working with her daughter and they get along, and having her daughter in the store is a great benefit because she brings in a younger view and can think of things that she would have never considered.
Megan Obrecht added that she knows her mom well, and they are able to work off of each other in the store.
She said her favorite thing to do with her mom is traveling to buying shows, where they are able to travel together and do different things and discuss business ideas.
"I like to think that we have fun," Obrecht said.
"Being ran mother and daughter, I feel like, a lot of the times, ... we are a little family, like all of our employees, too," she added.
She said that she also plans to be part of the Havre community for a long time and hopes to take over Ben Franklin once her mother is ready to retire.
Sherry Obrecht said that when her daughter began working full-time the fabric department had an opening, so she put her in charge of buying the fabrics.
Megan Obrecht said that the fabric department is one of her biggest accomplishments. The customers who buy items from the fabric department have a wide range of knowledge about sewing and quilting, she said, and although she was a little intimidated when she first started in the department, the customers have helped her learn what she needed to know.
She added that she is very proud of how well the department is doing.
Obrecht said that, last year, she and her mom were a little worried for the store, with Kmart, Sears and Herberger's closing not long before Christmas. They were nervous people might leave town to do their holiday shopping.
But the community came together and shopped locally, she said, supporting many different businesses around town last year.
"I was really impressed and thankful that the local people really shopped local this year," Obrecht said. "It was impressive.
"They supported us really well," Sherry Obrecht said. "... We have a great community."
She added she wants people to be able to walk in and find something that they can create, not necessarily always buy.
Obrecht said that before she bought Ben Franklin from Durbin in 2012, she had worked for him since she was 19 years old and followed him when he started Ben Franklin in 1994.
Originally from Valier, Obrecht moved to Havre to attend Northern Montana College, now Montana State University-Northern, where she met her husband, Todd Obrecht, who co-owns Ben Franklin with her.
She said she started working in the management program at Woolworth's in the Holiday Village Mall, where Durbin was her supervisor.
She said that after Woolworth's closed Durbin opened the Ben Franklin store.
Obrecht said her husband also helped construct the building where Ben Franklin is currently located.
Obrecht said she has seen the market change over the years, but Ben Franklin has always been able to keep up-to-date with what the community wants. She added that since 1994 Ben Franklin has expanded four times, the most recent being two years ago when they were able to expand the fabrics department and add a classroom for activities.
She said one of her goals when she first bought the store was to make it more comfortable for the customers and, with the expansions, she feels that has been achieved.
Ben Franklin has held art and craft classes in its classroom since last September. The classes have been taught by Megan Obrecht, Kathy Squires of Fort Benton and Annette Horsley.
"A lot of people say, 'Oh, I'm not crafty; I'm not artsy,' but all you need is an idea and I think anybody can do it," Megan Obrecht said.
She and her daughter said if anyone is interested in teaching classes they will let them use the classroom for free. Anyone interested can call the store at 265-3290 and ask for Megan or Sherry Obrecht.
Sherry Obrecht added that if anybody has any ideas or items they would like to see in the store, they should also feel free to let them know.
"We can't get everything, but we can always try," Megan Obrecht said.