Mountain Timber Market

This November, when the doors of the new Mountain Timber Market open at the Port of Kalama, visitors will encounter a variety of vendors and shops, each with their own unique story linking them to the region. However, there’s one store in particular that promises to stand out with its one-of-a-kind connection to Kalama, and it’s called the Chinook Shoppe.

Developed by Kalama School District students and staff, the Chinook Shoppe will feature a range of products including apparel, tumblers and mugs, keychains, greeting cards and other handcrafted items that have been created and/or designed by Kalama students. 

For customers, the shop offers an opportunity to purchase something uniquely Kalama, while supporting the district’s CTE (Career Technology Education) program. For students, it’s all about real-world marketing, engineering, manufacturing and small business experience (budgeting, product selection, pricing, inventory management, etc.).

“The fact that we are able to take our own ideas, products and designs, and offer them down at the Port is really exciting,” said Brooklyn Storedahl, a Kalama High School sophomore. “Of course there’s been trial and error along the way, but overall it has been a great experience – one that most students don’t ever get the opportunity to have, especially in small communities.”

Construction students at Kalama High School working on the walls of the Chinook Shoppe

Cooper Hahn, a Kalama High School senior who, after graduation, plans to pursue a business degree at Central Washington or Eastern Washington University, said he’s looking forward to showcasing Kalama’s student talent in a professional retail setting.  

“I was in our CTE Design Engineering class during my sophomore and junior year, so I know what our expectations and limitations are,” he said. “I’ve seen what we can create, and I’ve seen how sweet the designs are looking. I think people will be surprised at how well we can produce these items.” 

For Stacy Jones, Kalama High School’s Career Connected Coordinator, the launch of the Chinook Shoppe illustrates the district’s innovative, collaborative spirit and commitment to providing students with not just knowledge, but practical skills that will serve them well into the future.

“This is probably the most expansive cross-curricular project that a school could ever endeavor in,” she said. “We’re getting involvement from students in Art, Agriculture, Construction, Engineering, Marketing - we’re pulling from every aspect that we can.”

And it’s not only high school students that are involved in the development of the Chinook Shoppe; Woodshop students from Kalama Middle School are supplying the store with handcrafted cutting boards, and some Kalama Elementary School students will have a hand in helping to create bookmarks. 

“As teachers, we’re always looking for ways to bring different classroom curriculums together, but we all get so busy and it can be difficult to pull off,” explained Cory Torppa, Kalama School District’s CTE Director. “This project is forcing teachers and students to work together more than any other project I’ve seen in my 20 years of education. This is as real as it gets.”

Student-designed tumblers & accessories   Student-designed tumblers & accessories   Student-designed tumblers & accessories

While Jones will take on the lionshare of day-to-day store operations, Torppa said the goal is to hire student interns who can run the shop when school isn’t in session.

“There’s going to be a lot of learning and a lot of struggles along the way because we have so many parts, but it’s really cool to see this project come together,” he said. “It’s been pretty special to be a part of, especially as a teacher when you see your students realize what they’re capable of.”

By all accounts, Kevin Lardizabal-Orea, a Kalama High School junior, is one of those students. Before signing up for the school’s CTE program, he wasn’t sure which profession he wanted to pursue. Now, with what he’s been able to experience in the program, he’s leaning toward a career in engineering.

“Because of what I’ve experienced already, I kind of feel like this (engineering) is my thing now,” he said.

With the doors of the Chinook Shoppe set to open next month (just in time for the busy holiday shopping season), a sudden realization among students has begun to set in: tourists from around the world will soon be disembarking from cruise ships and shopping in a store they helped to build and develop, purchasing products that they designed.

“The whole thing is terrifying!” laughed Storedahl. “It’s terrifying, but it’s also cool at the same time. It’s terri-fun-fying.” 

The tentative grand opening date for the Chinook Shoppe is set for Friday, November 24.