Business owners find a special brand of magic in Teton Valley
Illustration by Meghan Hanson
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Throughout the years, various Jackson Hole business owners have sent feelers over Teton Pass to test the trade waters of Teton Basin. Typically, these enterprises serve as Idaho-side adjuncts of stores or restaurants whose primary base of operations remains in Wyoming.
Here we highlight a pair of local businesses with Jackson roots whose owners have committed fully to doing business here, bringing important services to the quiet side of the Tetons. In both cases, the owners have found an intense passion for place among valley residents—one that is hard to resist and has them investing in the thriving spirit of innovation they’ve found in Teton Valley.
Business with Social Benefits
Imagine strolling through the doors of a cozy house-turned-business handily located in the center of Driggs a block away from the main intersection in downtown. You’re greeted by name. Printer and copy machines hum in the background while the owner, Becky Strout, armed with a soft Southern accent and kind demeanor, effortlessly juggles working with a mother and daughter trying to operate the digital photo printer, a customer loaded down with boxes for FedEx, and a visitor who has just come by to shoot the breeze. Art supplies line the shelves, and posters announcing local events hang on the back walls ready for delivery.
In 2006, when Becky’s husband, architect Roger Strout, opened a Driggs branch of his Jackson-based firm, Strout Architects, the couple discovered a void in architectural print services. Voilà! Peak Printing was born.
But as the economy weakened and the need for reproducing blueprints declined with the construction slowdown, the Strouts were unsure if they could maintain the business. Determined to do what she could to make it successful, Becky committed to driving from Jackson to Driggs to work in the store a few days a week. The result has been a lot more than she bargained for—she not only has sustained the business, she has tapped into a community and social scene that she’s thrilled to be a part of. She even lives part-time above their shop now.
“I thought I’d be always going back to Jackson after work,” Strout says. “But we’re finding we’re getting much more engaged in this community than we would have ever thought.” Even her husband frequently commutes over the pass after work to enjoy Teton Valley’s social offerings, such as the music nights at Alpine Wines in Driggs.
Strout’s involvement extends beyond the social sphere. She’s an active member of the Downtown Driggs Community Association, and says she has found herself “blown away” by the level of involvement and genuine interest from town officials.
“I just don’t think that would happen in Jackson,” she says.
Strout admits that prior to making the move to Driggs, she regarded Teton Valley as a bedroom community, a place where people bided their time until managing to relocate to Jackson Hole. But instead, she has found a distinct community, one containing a collective (and contagious) energy of enthusiasm, creativity, and optimism.
“There are outstandingly creative people in all sorts of unexpected pockets in the valley,” Strout says. “I think people are choosing this low-key, laidback lifestyle, but they’ve got high-powered ideas and they’re happy to use local businesses. It’s got a huge economic effect.”
Strout is a creative person herself; she comes from a family of artists and is a graphic designer by training. Her favorite part of Peak Printing is working with customers on projects.
“I don’t love copying a one-hundred-page book,” she says. “But I love problem solving. Thinking of creative solutions to help people’s businesses—that’s my favorite.”
Another favorite is working with locals on family scrapbooks. “There is such a rich tradition of documenting ancestry here,” she says. “It’s fun to get a sense of the history of the valley.”
Strout looks forward to continuing to expand the business and its offerings, including more graphic design and architectural design services, as well as crafts like bookmaking and paper projects such as embossing and intricate design cutting. She says people in Jackson often ask her when she’s going to sell the business and get back to the east side of the pass.
“I’m not!” she says, laughing. “I love it! I’m investing in it. I’ve got new equipment; [the business] is going to grow!”