"It's the biggest little store in the country," said Mark Rauterkus, owner of the Trading Post in Encampment.
At the Trading Post, Rauterkus holds his spot behind the counter, while regulars enjoy food and coffee, ready to help those that stop in for a variety of goods and services.
Other employees take that same post, and the staff helps locals and residents as they come by. Rauterkus has owned the gas station, convenience store and sporting goods shop since 1985, and on Dec. 7 they will celebrate the 30th anniversary.
The Trading Post serves the area by selling sporting goods, snow machine registrations, hunting and fishing licenses and ski and snowshoe rentals. According to Rauterkus, the building was originally Castos Rock Shop, which was a rock shop and gas station with very few convenience items. When Rauterkus bought it, it was called Rosenfield's.
In 1996, Rauterkus expanded the sporting goods inventory, eventually enlarging the back portion of the store to hold gear including boots, outdoor necessities and ski and showshoe equipment. The two feed buildings were added to supply ranch feed to the area. The convenience offerings have been improved as well, adding a rotisserie chicken machine and a food counter.
Rauterkus said that the Trading Post has provided convenience store service, employment and outdoor recreation services for area residents as well as regular out-of-state customers. "It makes me feel like we're doing something right when we see the same out-of-state customers year after year after year and get to know them, I mean you get to know them as friends through the years."
Looking to the future, Rauterkus said that it depends on what happens in the Valley, but he hopes to continue to improve business. With the small store space and no major increase in business, Rauterkus said that the expansion and improvement of the store will be up to increases in business in the area.
For now, the Trading Post will celebrate its customers, community, loyal out-of-state residents and employees with an anniversary event, offering 30 percent off sporting goods for its 30th year in business, including knives, optics, skis, clothing and fishing tackle. The sale will run from now until Dec. 14, going through the weekend of Encampment's Small Business Saturday, which is Dec. 12. On Dec. 7, the Trading Post will serve free food and beverages to acknowledge the official anniversary date.