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Hopper & Ro is back in business after last year's fire

Posted at 6:07 PM, Dec 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-22 00:13:10-05

GREAT FALLS — The official reopening day for Hopper & Ro was December 15, but Rachel Campbell and her brother and sister had been working on getting the family paint shop back in business for months. A fire at their old location on 9th Street South in Great Falls forced them out of the building, and shut down the neighboring Popcorn Colonel for almost a year.

Tamra Johnson is Rachel’s sister. In her words, the incident is “sad, but there is some silver lining because here we are.”

Indeed they are. Nearly one year after the Christmas Eve fire last year destroyed almost everything inside in the business, Hopper and Ro are back, but the process wasn’t a straight line. Everyone worked from home until the new space, which they share with Flooring America and other businesses, was ready. The paint was stored at a different location than the home office to keep it warm and usable, and the company also housed supplies and other things in some storage units. On top of that, they were still able to use the old location to mix paint while the new location was still a work in progress. All in all, it took several stops around town just to mix a gallon of paint.

That wasn’t the only challenge they faced, either. The new location and reopening plan almost didn’t come together at all. “We were trying to think, how many signs do we need that maybe we shouldn’t be doing this?” said Tamra. “And then all of a sudden, everybody reached out and everybody was so supportive that we said ‘there we go.’ It’s all about resilience.”

Community support has been one of the driving factors that not only convinced Rachel and her brother and sister to reopen the business, but that made it so easy.

When the fire broke out last December, Rachel says she ran down to the old location with her family to see what was happening. Despite the losses, they say they were just happy to see that nobody was hurt. Rachel and Tamra agree that, tragic as the event was, it could have been a lot worse.

The Great Falls community has rallied behind the family in their efforts to get the paint shop reopened. “We have a huge village of supporters around us,” said Rachel. “We have great friends and family, and the community of Great Falls has been incredible. The reach out, everybody has asked us if we need anything and jumped right in to help.”

“We’ve had so many family members, friends, the community help us move out of the old store, take things to the dump, and move into the new store,” Tamra recalled. “We’re just so grateful for all those people because it does take a village.”

The family moved everything they had into the new space on 15th Street North on the last weekend in November, and then spent the next week weeks putting everything together. That meant building shelves, arranging new displays, and putting together an office that hadn’t previously existed.

Hopper & Ro is open in their new location at 1209 15th Street North, Monday through Friday, 9:00 A.M. – 5:30 P.M., though Rachel says she’s happy to come in at 8:00 A.M. or earlier to meet the needs of customers and contractors.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” said Tamra.

“I get to come to work with my brother and my sister every day,” said Rachel. “You just can’t beat it.”

Click here to visit the Hopper & Ro website.