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The Driving Force

Elizabeth Hines of Pattee Creek Market embraces family, community, and local products alongside husband Tim

Elizabeth Hines—a mom of two who, along with her husband Tim, owns Pattee Creek Market—has some advice for other working women.

“Being a woman and having a lot on your plate as far as children and business, it’s hard,” she said, noting that she works out every day and rides her horses. “It’s OK to say no. It’s OK to be at work and be OK to be at work, and it’s OK to be at home and be OK to be at home.”

Tim calls Elizabeth “the driving force” behind the business, and he calls Pattee Creek Market a “small niche little community market.” That’s on purpose. “There’s a dozen grocery stores in Missoula but their corporate office is not in Missoula,” he said. “They report to shareholders. We report to the community.”

“Every customer for us is not just a number,” Elizabeth added. “It’s an actual person.”

Since taking over the business last October, Elizabeth and Tim have been hard at work overhauling various aspects of the space with an emphasis on sustainability and meeting environmental standards. Repeat visitors might notice brand new bulk bins made from recycled material. And an Amazon locker— “only one in Missoula,” noted Tim—now sits outside the store, allowing customers to pick up and return items en route to other errands without a delivery truck making a special trip. Behind the scenes, Tim is overseeing replumbing all the prep areas and installing grease traps.

Aesthetically, Elizabeth and Tim have been able to do more with less space through efficient organization. The store features 1,400 wines with about 150 added under the new ownership, but the footprint of wine shelving was greatly reduced to allow more visibility and customer foot traffic in the direction of the meat counter. The bulk bins take up about eight feet less space than before, without sacrificing variety.

Elizabeth and Tim put great care into sourcing local items whenever possible, such as Tipu’s Chai tea, bulk spices from Silk Road, and a great selection of local beer. A cooler of Wagging Tail Biscuits, baked by a local teenager, sits near the entrance. All proceeds go to the Humane Society of Western Montana. For humans, baked goods from Grist, Le Petit Outre, and Florabella are delivered fresh. Local produce like carrots and potatoes, as well as poultry, come from nearby Hutterite colonies.

“Anything we can get locally, we try to bring it in,” said Tim, noting that the coffee and tea section was expanded by four to eight feet to make room for more local varieties.

The meat counter features local brands like Double K Ranch, Farmer Boy, Clark Fork Custom Meats, Sovereign Warrior, and Hatheway Sheep Ranch. That last local business has a special connection to the family because it is owned by Elizabeth’s dad and she currently handles day-to-day operations like caring for the lambs.

“These lambs have the best life,” Elizabeth said. “Our kids go out there and play with them. They’re spoiled baby lambs. They have the best quality of life any farm animal could have.”

To Elizabeth and Tim, family and community go hand-in-hand.

“It’s about knowing where our food comes from,” Elizabeth said. “Our kids eat here. We are all about the community and making a better future for the next generation.”

“I love being a butcher and getting to cut meat, then going out on the sales floor asking people if they need help finding anything,” said Tim, who has worked in the grocery business for 25 years. “I guess I’m just a people person.”

It makes sense for the couple that reinvesting in Missoula is also a priority. Elizabeth and Tim have partnered with local nonprofit Missoula Works, which was founded with the goal of assisting returning citizens—mainly people coming out of incarceration and treatment—with finding employment. And that wouldn’t work, of course, without local businesses willing to hire them.

“It’s completely vital,” said Daisy Alexander, personal development coordinator at Missoula Works. “Having reliable employment is the number one factor in preventing recidivism. It’s the best chance they have at moving forward and making a life.”

“Pattee Creek has been amazing,” she went on. “We have several very happy and grateful individuals placed there, and the owners have been very communicative with us so we know what is going on and what they need. They are our most active hiring partner right now.”

“If you can just change one person’s life, get them back on their feet,” Tim said. “Our main thing is we’re here to support the community,” Elizabeth added.

So what’s next for Pattee Creek Market? “That will be a forever thing,” Tim said. “Honestly, I’m really considering an olive bar.”

“These lambs have the best life. Our kids go out there and play with them. They’re spoiled baby lambs. They have the best quality of life any farm animal could have.” - Elizabeth

“It’s about knowing where our food comes from. Our kids eat here. We are all about the community and making a better future for the next generation.” - Elizabeth