By Doug Hare EBS Staff
Big Sky – For 17 years, Dorothea Jude has operated the Big Horn Boutique, a retail fixture selling souvenirs and fine merchandise to visitors and locals alike. That is set to change at the end January, when Jude will close up shop for good.
The shop owner looks forward to the well-deserved respite and free time that retirement will bring.
“I won’t be idle, I won’t be sitting in a rocking chair. Trust me,” she said about her future plans. “I will be skiing, hiking and traveling. I have an invitation to visit friends in Austria and it will be nice to see family in Germany too.”
Back in 2001, when she opened up shop, originally in the Big Horn shopping center, Jude recalls business being slower. “We used to have a lot of RVs that would stop at Bugaboo [Café] for a bite to eat, and they would usually stop in to have a look around the shop.”
Jude grew up in Nuremberg, Germany, and landed a job at the Palace of Justice fresh out of university working as a translator for the American government.
Work brought her to the East Coast of the U.S. where she met her husband, Bill Jude, who worked at Glacier and Yellowstone national parks during the summers. Trips to the Treasure State left a lasting impression on the couple, and eventually the couple bought a condo in Big Sky as a vacation spot.
After her husband’s passing in 1996, she decided to open a shop to stay busy and connected to the community. “It was a good move,” she said. “Looking back, it’s been an incredible experience and I’ve enjoyed meeting so many interesting people. Also, I’m grateful for all the support that was given to me … residents and businesses helping one another was essential.”
In 2008, Jude moved her shop to the Town Center Market Place building. When she was recently approached with an offer to buy her space, she decided that that the timing was right to sell. Purportedly, the new owner has plans to open an upscale men’s store.
Jude is quick to reminisce about being a business owner in a steadily growing, small mountain town: “Everyone was always pleasant,” she said. “Usually tourists are in good mood because they’re on vacation, and the locals have always been kind and helpful.”
When asked what advice she would give to future business owners in Big Sky, Jude said, “make your business plan first and get all your ducks in a row. It’s always a challenge in a resort town, but things will get easier with the new development.”
Despite closing her shop, Jude remains optimistic about the future of small retail businesses in Big Sky. Over her years running the boutique, Jude has seen Town Center continue to transform for the better.
“I’ve told Bill Simkins for years we need a hotel down here,” she said. “There will always be plenty of people visiting Yellowstone who need a place to stay, and the [new Wilson Hotel] is going to be good all around. It will help support the retail businesses in town.”
Jude makes a point of thanking everyone who helped her along the way, and one individual in particular—her longtime employee Alix Byrd. “After an accident in my home in May of 2016, she was the one who kept the doors open,” Jude said. “I wish her all the best in her endeavors going forward.”