connected to community
A local business knows its community inside and out. Meet several who recognize the value of these relationships.
WARMING UP WINTER WITH BIAS BREWING
What has the power to lure hundreds of Montanans outside on a frigid January afternoon? Two things: good beer and a good cause.
That’s what Frosty the Brewfest is all about.
In collaboration with the Kalispell Downtown Association, Bias Brewing came up with the event in 2019 to give locals a reason to gather during the winter lull and to fundraise for organizations working to fight homelessness in the Flathead Valley. Since its inception, the festival has raised a total of $75,000 for nonprofits including the Flathead Community Foundation, Abbie Shelter and, most recently, the Flathead Warming Center. The latter is a low-barrier shelter that opened its doors in late 2021, providing a safe place for people to sleep during the coldest months of the year.
“They built 40 beds, thinking that would be enough, and they’re already needing to expand. So raising money is very important, not only to sustain their daily operation, but to grow,” says Gabe Mariman, co-owner and general manager of Bias Brewing in Kalispell. “The need gets worse as the housing crisis in the Flathead Valley gets worse.” Mariman says next year’s event will be in support of Kalispell’s Samaritan House.
Frosty the Brewfest wouldn’t be possible without substantial investment from Kalispell area businesses who collectively pony up the funds needed to host the event so that every dollar collected in entry fees goes straight to the nonprofits.
“It’s a way to market,” Mariman notes, “but it’s also a way to make an impact on the community that we love, so everybody wins.”
To see what’s on tap or the kitchen’s menu, visit biasbrewing.com
ALL ABOARD AT IMAGINATION STATION
In 1995, Denise Magstadt and Mary Witbrod sat down with a bottle of wine and a thesaurus and came up with a name for the toy store they wanted to open in Whitefish. Imagination Station was a nod to the region’s rich railroad history and the classic BRIO toy train line that Magstadt was intent on carrying. With a background in childhood development, she knew that she wanted her store to be a place where parents and family members could turn to for quality and personalized service.
“They love to be talked to, they love that you remember their kids’ names… It’s a home feeling,” Magstadt says of her shop, which expanded to Kalispell in 2002. “It takes a village to raise a child, so we’re all involved.”
To express her thanks to loyal customers, she mails birthday postcards to youngsters with a $5 coupon that the child can spend in the store. Magstadt also offers discounts for teachers, military, and the Toys for Tots program, which delivers new, unwrapped toys to children in need each Christmas.
“I want to thank my locals for keeping the business local,” she says, “They’re always here for me with every generation.”
While the locals are her bread and butter, Magstadt says she also receives support from the many tourists that flock to the area, many of whom no longer have a local toy store in their hometowns. They’ll often continue to shop at Imagination Station through the store’s website after returning home.
“It keeps you going,” she says. “I think people realize, especially now, that brick and mortar is really important.”
Visit one of their locations in downtown Kalispell or downtown Whitefish.
FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE AT MCGARVEY LAW
The attorneys at McGarvey Law have a long history of fighting for the little guy. The Kalispell-based law firm is a steadfast champion of the environment and no stranger to taking on corporate giants on behalf of local communities – and winning. But the firm is perhaps best-known for their decades-long fight in the landmark Libby asbestos case where they represented workers and Libby residents who had been exposed to toxic asbestos from the W.R. Grace vermiculite mine.
McGarvey lawyers played an instrumental role in holding the mine and its insurer, Maryland Casualty, along with the State of Montana and BNSF Railroad, accountable for their part in this public health crisis. The firm uncovered inspection documents from the Montana Department of Public Health, showing that dangerous levels of asbestos existed in the mine dating back to the 1950s. Similar inspections by Maryland Casualty echoed these findings, but were also sheltered from the public eye, leaving workers and residents in the dark.
“Asbestos disease has a latency period of up to 40-60 years, so [Maryland Casualty] knew that if they could get these workers to just keep working and retire … they’d never file a workers comp claim,” partner Jinnifer Mariman explains. “They let these guys get sick – and ultimately die from it.”
In February, the firm achieved a groundbreaking victory against Maryland Casualty on behalf of their client Ralph Hott, a former W.R. Grace employee, who was awarded $6.5 million in damages and another $30 million in punitive damages.
“The Ralph Hott case … was one of the most significant verdicts that have come out of the Libby tragedy in decades,” says Dustin Leftridge, a partner at McGarvey Law. “He’s the first of many of these trials that are coming up to finally get a measure of justice for the wrongs that have been done to the workers of Libby. It’s a pretty powerful thing.”
To learn more about McGarvey Law cases and practice areas, visit their website at McGarveyLaw.com
Photos: Mandy Mohler (Bias Brewing and Imagination Station), Aaron Augusto (McGarvey Law)
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