Trapper and Carolyn Kuiper are joined by Adam Szakall and his sone Tynan at the Broke Buckle Clothing Company.

Trapper and Carolyn Kuiper are joined by Adam Szakall and his sone Tynan at the Broke Buckle Clothing Company.

A trip for red wine led to new store in Hope

Couple leaves ice roads for life in retail

A new clothing store has come alive on Wallace Street, specializing in Wrangler jeans, western and work wear, and all manner of items to bring comfort and style to the residents of Hope.

The thing is, if Caroline Kuiper hadn’t developed a liking for a certain brand of red wine, the Broke Buckle Clothing Company may never have happened.

“I’ve been involved in the trucking business for almost 22 years, and my husband, Trapper, for almost 40. We had sold off our acreage in Clearwater and were sitting outside around a campfire with some friends and I decided to go back up to the house for another bottle of wine.

“By the time I got back, Trapper had made a deal to buy the inventory of a friend’s clothing store and we were on the way,” explained Caroline with a laugh.

“I wonder if any of this would have happened if I hadn’t gone for that wine.”

The store is now open at the end of Wallace Street in Hope and, after a “soft opening” on Dec. 2, the store seems poised to be a huge success.

“We had a ton of people come to visit and buy and I know it’s just going to get better,” Trapper said.

“I’m still on the road now driving but I would love to retire from ice road trucking and be in Hope full-time by next year. We’ll see how it goes.”

By all accounts, it’s going very well.

And if all goes as planned, Caroline hopes that the store will need to find larger premises by next year.

“I’m basing my business model on a dear friend, Mrs. Elliot, who owned what I think was the best western wear store in the world before she passed away a few years back. She knew all her customers and took care of them, even remembering special occasions like birthdays and calling husbands to remind them to buy their wives a gift for that special day,” Caroline said.

The other basis for the Kuipers’ business is the fact that they know western wear and comfort.

“These are the clothes we have always worn; the clothes we love. And we’re going to bring them to the people of Hope,” Caroline said.

The move to Hope was, in part, because the Kuipers have family and friends in the area, some of whom have helped to prepare the store for business.

In one unique twist, Caroline explained that she has employed the help of 13-year-old Tynan Szakall to help pick out clothing styles for the younger customers.

“He and his dad Adam have been such a big help in getting us set up and Tynan came to me and said he wanted to help in deciding what to stock.

“I’ve always believed that you stoke the fire in the young, you don’t put it out, so Tynan is going to be helping us as we go on,” she said.

Trapper said the store will be expanding into a much larger inventory of work wear, boots, fire-retardant wear, and other items.

“If people come in and don’t see what they want, they just have to tell us and we’ll get it in. That’s the kind of store we want to be,” he said.