Karen Rohn was very involved in the renovation of the old WI & M (Washington, Idaho & Montana) train depot in Potlatch. Built in 1906, it had fallen into disrepair. Karen is vice president of the WI & M Railway History Preservation group that owns the depot, and is also president of the Potlatch Historical Society, which created a museum in the building. The building is now a beautiful multi-use facility. It includes two finished stories with a retail shop, two museums where people have donated historical items and photographs, beautiful offices, and a large staging area in the back for performances.
BlackBird at the Depot, Karen’s lovely shop, is located at the front entrance. She opened the business in 2010. That first winter, there was no insulation and it got pretty cold in there. It has grown from that humble beginning to a shop filled with beautiful art, gifts, handmade and vintage items. Karen said she made about half the items in the shop herself. She has created paintings, photographs, Idaho items, designed T-shirts & pillows, and made original written word items. She is always thinking of new ideas. One of her most recent creations is alphabet banner pieces made from recycled old books. She noted old books can sit on a shelf or be a piece of art. Karen said, “It’s nice to have your own stage. I can make something and see if it sells.”
Karen also sells items on consignment. When she finds local people who make interesting creations, she invites them in. She said, “I like to carry local items made by people I know.” She has a couple of men who make wooden bowls and they sell like hotcakes. A local 17-year-old boy with a learning disability creates colorful woven rugs made out of old T-shirts. It makes Karen happy to provide a space for people to sell their creations.
Karen’s inspiration to start the Potlatch business began with Wild Women Traders in Moscow. She loved that store and became friends with Julie, one of the owners. Julie partnered with Karen to begin BlackBird at the Depot, sharing her business experience. Julie later moved from the area and Karen became the sole owner.
Karen just opened a new store in Moscow, BlackBird on Sixth, in the back of One World Cafe on 6th Street. It’s a great location and will be more fast-paced. The shop carries the same unique arts and crafts items as the Potlatch store. Karen said it will also give her a chance as a “portable Chamber of Commerce” to promote her home town. She is the executive director of the Potlatch Riverside Festival Association, which puts on a great music festival each year.
Karen grew up in Potlatch, moved away, then moved back. Her parents still live in Potlatch, but her daughter and grandchildren live on the west side of Washington. Karen currently lives on “an old farm, with old buildings, and old horses.” With the little spare time she has, she enjoys fixing up the old buildings.
BLACKBIRD AT THE DEPOT IS A MOSCOW FOOD CO-OP BUSINESS PARTNER
- Through our Business Partner Program, Co-op owners receive a discount on locally-owned businesses that partner with the Co-op, and the Co-op promotes our locally-owned partners.
- BlackBird At The Depot offers Co-op members 20% off cards and switchplates, and one free Idaho sticker per visit.
- BlackBird At The Depot can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 509-595-7684.
- For more information about the Co-op's Business Partner Program, please ask for a brochure and/or an application at the Customer Service Desk or click here.