Hey Inland Northwest!
Mariah here, co-owner of Inland Northwest Trading Co.! Thanks for joining us on this journey of starting a small business, and welcome to the latest INW Trading Co. project: our blog!
Gary and I have decided to start a blog to keep our subscribers up-to-date with all the latest news and information about our emerging subscription box service. As a family-owned small business based in Spokane, WA, we certainly have a lot going on in our lives. Here, we’ll post behind-the-scenes videos, product reviews, updates about our business, and more! Hopefully, our blog can provide our readers with an inside look into all that we have in the works.
First, a little bit about us. Gary and I met in 2018 and instantly connected over our desire to contribute to the Spokane community in a meaningful way. At the time, I was working as the Development Director for KYRS-Thin Air Community Radio, and Gary worked as a graphic designer for the Kalispel Tribe of Indians. With the support of each other and our new family, our mutual entrepreneurial mentality began to grow into an ambitious vision for the future. After two years and many life changes, the business that would eventually become Inland Northwest Trading Co. started to take shape.
When Gov. Inslee issued the stay home order in March, I was still working at a restaurant on the south hill of Spokane. As it became clear that we would have to close our doors to sit-down diners no matter what, the owners opted to close the restaurant entirely as opposed to staying open for take-out only. Similarly, Gary’s daughters were suddenly out of school and needed full-time care in addition to at-home schooling. Because Gary was still able to work from home, it was important that he have the time and space he needed to focus. As I’m sure most of our readers can relate — it was really hard.
After a few weeks of quarantine, Gary finally got the news that he would be permanently laid off from the Kalispel Tribe. Opting to see the silver lining, Gary decided that he would take this opportunity to explore starting our own small business.
Before COVID-19 caused us to both lose our jobs, we had been working diligently on another idea for a small business: a specialty food distribution service for area restaurants called Spokane Specialty Foods. Although the community’s initial response to this endeavor was wildly supportive, the timing of the stay home order issued in WA state had the potential to be catastrophic to our business. So, we pivoted.
What began as a few start-up schemes ultimately evolved into the idea for a subscription box service that features items made right here in the Inland Northwest.
During the stay-home order, we saw tons of Spokane-owned businesses begin to shutter. Doing our part to support the local economy, we started placing orders online with businesses who we already love and support. However, coordinating shipping dates and orders was frustrating. Similarly, we found ourselves spending almost as much on shipping costs as we were on the products themselves! Also, it wasn’t exactly easy to find local makers online, as many of them don’t have their own website or shopping platform. We wanted one place to get all the products we need and want from Inland Northwest producers, shipped directly to us.
And so, the idea for a monthly subscription box service began to emerge. At first, we thought about limiting our market to Spokane-only makers, but we felt we wanted to have a wider reach than the city’s limits. Similarly, we considered featuring products from all around the Pacific Northwest, but felt that this market was too broad and oversaturated. Wanting to stay small but not limit ourselves, we ended up deciding that the Inland Northwest was where we wanted to land.
Because we were both born and raised in the Inland Northwest, it only made sense to us to stay close to our roots. Gary has lived in Spokane all his life, and I was born in Kalispell, MT before moving to Missoula, MT where I spent most of my childhood. The Inland Northwest is such a beautiful, diverse region, and it is our goal to celebrate the artisanal craftsmanship that our regional makers have to offer.
Keep an eye out for more blog posts coming soon, including behind-the-scenes videos, photos, and stories about Inland Northwest Trading Co..
Thank you again for joining us as we continue on this journey of starting our very own small business!
Mariah & Gary