Stage Stop has new owners

Ron Burtz

One of Custer's most unique tourism related businesses is under new ownership and will be undergoing some big changes in coming months to give shoppers an immersive experience into Native American culture and the Old West.
The rustic Stage Stop Trading Post at 640 West Mt. Rushmore Road was recently purchased by Winfried Alessi-Narr (co-owner of Custer's new Swan's organic food store) and a partner who plan to open it to the public  Memorial Day weekend and operate through Labor Day.
The shop, which is well known for carrying items such as skulls, old weapons and coins, arrowheads, furs, hides, antiques and Native American craft supplies, will continue to carry those products with the addition of more.
Alessi-Narr said the shop will concentrate even more on Native American items and will carry beads as well as beading and crewel supplies. The store will also offer ready made items created by a number of Native American families in the area.
While the store will also sell souvenirs and other items popular with the traveling public, Alessi-Narr said he wants it to be more than just a unique souvenir shop.
Coming from his native Germany, he said he understands how much interest in the American West there is among Europeans, and even many Americans from other states, especially when it comes to Indian culture, art and history.
“We want to try to educate people to get rid of prejudice and racism,” said Alessi-Narr, “just so we understand each other better.”
It probably won't happen this season, but he said the owners’ ultimate goal is to make the Stage Stop look and feel like an actual 19th Century western trading post that will give visitors a feel for what things were really like in those days.
Reminiscent of shops in Germany that haven't changed much in the last 200 years, he said he wants customers to come away with an experience even if they don’t buy something.
“At least you’ve been in the 1850s for 10 minutes, half an hour or so,” he said.


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