Frank Night Pipe stands next to online orders in Prairie Edge that are ready to be shipped to customers. Photo: by Travis Dewes / Native Sun News Today

Native Sun News Today: Prairie Edge adapts during pandemic

RAPID CITY - Businesses have been changing ways of operation and avenues of income from day to day during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the businesses that have changed is Prairie Edge & Sioux Trading Post. The downtown vendor, unlike many others, is thriving amidst drastic change.

Prairie Edge’s storefront is open for limited hours from Tuesday-Saturday, but the rest of the time is taken up by filling online orders. When Rapid City first declared the closure of non-essential businesses, the employees of Prairie Edge had 178 orders to fill.

A majority of the store’s online orders are botanicals like sage due to anti-viral publicity. But there are also many craft supplies and books being shipped to customers.

“We are in a part of the country where we are so fortunate to have unique items,” said general manager Dan Tribby. “We know we can have a leg up on the rest of the country with things like botanicals, star quilts, ledger art, and old out of print books, and that is our focus.”

Change is not a new topic at Prairie Edge with the passing of Ray Hillenbrand, the stores founder, last year. Prairie Edge is now owned by Mimi Hillenbrand, Ray’s daughter. Since the passing of Hillenbrand, Prairie Edge has been named SDRA’s retailer of the year.

“Ray and I had hundreds of hours of conversation about the direction of the store and changing times,” said Tribby. “We were talking about a lot of what we are talking about now, and now we’re forced to make those changes because of the pandemic.” The main focus of Tribby’s worries around the pandemic do not come from a fiscal standpoint, but an altruistic one.

“For a business like Prairie Edge, so many of our proprietary artists have been with us for 30 plus years,” he said. “There are none of us that are spring chickens and if this [virus] got going with our artists it could be devastating to them and their families.”

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