Darcy Ostermiller and Tara Wolf

Store manager Darcy Ostermiller, left, and owner Tara Wolf of Hippy Cowgirl. 

ERIK OLSON, Gazette Staff

Many who drove through Billings Heights probably viewed the 1950s-era gas station at 675 Main St. as a relic, a structure to be razed in favor of a newer, glossier retail building.

To Tara Wolf, however, the 1,200-square-foot space was perfect for her retail clothing and fashion shop, the Hippy Cowgirl, which she operated in downtown Billings for seven years.

She bought the building about two years ago and spent more than $35,000 to renovate the inside, reopening last May. Most of the industrial features remain: the operating overhead garage door, the uncovered cement floors and even the metal bay hatch that leads to the service area beneath the floor.

Outside, paint is peeling from the overhead canopy, and work is needed, Wolf said.

Nevertheless, the atmosphere fits well for Hippy Cowgirl, which specializes in fashion forward western wear for men, women and children, Wolf said last week.

“I am truly enamored and grateful. I know of lot of repeat customers that drive from the West End to here. A lot of people don’t want to just go to Walmart or Target,” Wolf, 50, said.

Added store manager Darcy Ostermiller, “They want businesses in the Heights, new places to go shopping without having to go to the West End.”

Wolf, a Billings native, is a former real estate agent with a fashion background. She initially launched the business downtown to be part of a retail corridor, but found customers with trailers and big rigs struggled with parking downtown.

She moved briefly to the Billings Livestock Exchange but didn’t like being so far away from retail traffic. All the while she was eyeing the Heights and the old gas station, and she was glad she got it before someone else bought it and tore it down.

“We salvaged the building,” Wolf said, adding that she’s rejected four offers to sell from developers.

Hippy Cowgirl is on a 5,250-square-foot lot. Wolf also leases space to another business to display sheds for sale.

The shop has three employees, and Wolf’s 12-week-old West Highland terrier, Chanel, is a frequent guest.

Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. The phone number is 259-5425. The website is www.hippycowgirlonline.com, and the business in on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

SiteOne partners with Amgen

Bozeman-based SiteOne Therapeutics has signed a new research and development agreement with biotech giant Amgen and formaly closed a new round of $15 million financing.

The company announced in a news release that the Amgen partnership and financing will help develop its Nav 1.7 inhibitors, which are non-opioid products used to manage acute and chronic pain.

Stan Abel, president and CEO of SiteOne, said in the release that rising U.S. opioid addiction rates have created a need for safer alternatives to manage pain.

SiteOne operates in Bozeman with a research team based in San Francisco at the QB3 biotech incubator.

Entrepreneurs wanted

The Montana Small Business Development Center is looking for budding entrepreneurs for a live competition.

Modeled after the reality TV show “Shark Tank,” the contest allows entrepreneurs less than a year into their business to pitch a group of investors.

It’s held March 12 through March 14 at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Recreation at the Radisson Colonial Hotel in Helena.

Cost is $99, which includes a ticket to the conference. Call 406-841-2747 or email mtsbdc@mt.gov for more information.

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