(HELENA) While we’re trying to beat the heat, one man tucked away in an East Helena shop is focused on keeping people warm during some of the coldest months.

It’s what Gary Thomas has been doing for a living for the last 40 years. He opened his first High Plains Hide Fur store in Wyoming in 1975 and then moved to Last Chance Gulch in Helena in 1984.

Ten years later he decided to move his shop to East Helena on Main Street.

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“East Helena is a really good location for this business,” said Thomas. “We ship a lot to California and Washington and Oregon, Minnesota, Wisconsin, but Montana is still our biggest state.”

He hand makes hats, boots, and mittens, but slippers are the most popular. All the materials are sourced in America.

“American Sheep Hand in Texas, the thread’s made in North Carolina, the soling is from Massachusetts,” said Thomas. 

Thomas takes pride in each thread sewn as he depends on returning customers to keep buying the furry and warm products.

“I had a client that came in, and he said when I was in high school I bought my his first pair of slippers for my grandfather for Christmas. He says now I’m buying a pair for my grandson so it’s multi-generational,” Thomas said. 

At the end of the day, it all comes down to one thing.

“We keep people’s feet and hands and head comfortable. That’s a good thing to do for a living,” admitted Thomas. 


Reporter: Sara Stinson