"The culture here values getting away for a while and how it actually leads to more creativity and productivity; it makes it possible to do something we love in a place we love."
David Weed isn’t new to owning and running a business, but like many successful entrepreneurs, he was quick to develop a new skill set when the industry he had been operating in was adversely impacted by an economic downturn. Before the Great Recession, David ran a construction and drilling business in the Flathead Valley of northwest Montana. But when the construction industry stalled a few years ago, David and his wife, Leah, started selling clothing online and exploring ways that David could make use of his artistic talents in the business world.
David became especially interested in the unique patterns he saw on neck ties - and decided he could do even better. So, he taught himself how to make a tie from scratch:
“I just started doing it as a hobby, really. That evolved into doing repairs on other people’s ties, and designing my own patterns that other people were really interested in. I started to see a great market opportunity in what I was doing.”
David found a company in North Carolina that could print his custom patterns on silk, and that allowed for highly personalized designs that reflected the individual tastes and personalities of his first customers. The idea of being able to showcase a unique sense of style on a piece of apparel that has been dominated by standard-issue patterns and colors caught on, and in December 2013 David and Leah opened Center Street Tie Shop at their first location in Kalispell, Montana.
In addition to offering luxury brands like Armani and Versace, the shop sells far more unique colors and designs than the average department store. David notes that he and Leah especially try to stay away from the most traditional checks and plaids: “We want to make sure we’re offering something different that people can’t find around here, because that’s really what makes us unique as a business and brings people through our doors.”
As David notes, the customized ties turned out to be a great fit for the Flathead Valley’s growing entrepreneurial and business community:
“When people come into the shop they remark on how this is really a great thing for Kalispell…Ties remind people to step up their game when it comes to their appearance; that how they look should reflect their level of skill, and the level of care they put into their craft.”
Earlier this year, David and Leah expanded their business into a new location at 233 South Main Street in Kalispell, bringing more foot traffic into the shop. They also started offering tie repairs and selling their carefully curated tie collection as well as David’s custom designs via their Center Street Tie Makers website. Today, the custom-designed and handcrafted ties comprise about 20% of Center Street’s sales - and that number grows each year as more people look for truly unique ties for weddings and other special events.
David appreciates the opportunity to be creative he finds in designing and hand-crafting ties. He’s also grateful for a new opportunity to explore more of Big Sky Country:
“Last week, Leah and I closed the shop for a couple days to check out Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, and it was really amazing…and it wasn’t like our customers were angry because we decided to take some time off. The culture here values getting away for a while and how it actually leads to more creativity and productivity; it makes it possible to do something we love in a place we love.”