Stitching to serve: Bowman’s embroidery, clothing store brings in regional business

BOWMAN -- The clothing shop on Main Street in Bowman has a local feel, but it's influence spans across the region. Dale's Clothing and Custom Embroidery has seen several owners since it opened more than 40 years ago, but one thing hasn't changed ...

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Press Photos by April Baumgarten Dave and Tana Smolnikar, shown at top on Monday, are the current owners of Dale’s Clothing and Custom Embroidery in Bowman. The store sells a variety of apparel, jewelry and accessories.

BOWMAN - The clothing shop on Main Street in Bowman has a local feel, but it’s influence spans across the region.
Dale’s Clothing and Custom Embroidery has seen several owners since it opened more than 40 years ago, but one thing hasn’t changed - other than the name - is customer service on a local level, co-owner Tana Smolnikar said.
“They can deal directly with us. We’re the ones that do the work from start to finish,” Dale’s co-owner Dave Smolnikar said.
Dale and Marica Hochhalter began the business in 1973, but it wasn’t always what it is today. Next door was another department store. It had gone through several transitions, from a bookstore to J.C. Penney Co. and a jewelry store.
Eventually, Dale purchased the jewelry store before selling it to the Smolnikars in 2011.
“We wanted to be more local,” said Dave, who was driving truck for a living at the time.
The store has transformed from selling men’s clothing only into offering a barrage of items. Dale expanded the business into women’s clothing, along with other services. Now the store offers jewelry, shoes, accessories and clothing for oilfield workers. One wall of the store is even dedicated to Carhartt and flame-retardant clothing, something Dave said is in high demand, even in Bowman.
The owners aren’t afraid to take requests either.
“We just brought in Under Armour about a year ago because people were asking for it,” Tana said. “We thought it would be a nice addition.”
Still, a major aspect of the business is its embroidery shop.
With 10 employees, including Tana and Dave, the store embroiders anything from hats to heavy jackets for customers. The Bowman County Booster Club keeps the shop busy with orders for sporting events. It’s also the go-to store for local business that want to buy shirts and jackets for their customers. In fact, the clothing store had a row of jackets for Bowman Sales & Service, a vehicle dealership that gives jackets to customers when they buy a new vehicle. Wayne Bergquist, owner of Bowman Sales & Service, said the quality of work is excellent.
“Our customers just love it,” Bergquist said of the jackets.
The Smolnikars don’t only serve the Bowman area. Both said they consistently do orders for business across six states.
“We even have people come down from Dickinson,” Tana said with a smile.
Dale’s has 16 multi-head embroidery machines, and sometimes that isn’t enough to keep up with demand, Dave said.
“Since we bought the store, it’s been consistently busy. It’s been good,” Tana said.
The Smolnikars couldn’t put a figure on how much embroidery contributes to the business, but, “it’s a lot,” Dave said.
“It’s not a majority (of the business), but as far as how it consumes your time, it’s definitely a majority,” he added.
Bowman is in a unique position, literally and figuratively. Tucked in the southwest corner of the state, the closest city with major department stores is Dickinson, which is more than 70 miles away.
There are other clothing stores in Bowman, including GG’s Closet, a boutique that provides trendy clothing and accessories, and Ricochet Western Wear.
“We all complement each other really well,” Tana said. “We each have our own style that we offer.”
Keeping the business on Main Street was important, the Smolnikars said, and they receive support from the Bowman Area Chamber of Commerce and Bowman County Development Corp. The co-owners said the support from community members has been great.
“The community support was great, especially with us trying to get into the business,” Dave said.
“I just think people see the value in having a place like this available,” he added.

Baumgarten is the news editor of The Dickinson Press. Contact her at 701-456-1210.

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Dave Smolnikar loads the embroidery machines at Dale’s Clothing and Custom Embroidery in Bowman.

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