On Sunday, the Rock Creek Soda Hole in Red Lodge will hold a virtual auction for two chairs that have been signed by many of their guests in a effort to give back to the community.
The proceeds from the auction will be given to two local organizations: Beartooth Industries, a nonprofit that helps adults with special needs find jobs in the community, and Red Lodge After Prom, an organization that was created to help kids have a safe and fun prom night.
Owner Tiffany Bray said it's the perfect opportunity to give back to a community that has given her business so much.
"For us, our first year in business has exceeded any personal expectations that we could've had for ourselves," Bray said. "Finding ways that we can support local organizations is something we hold near and dear to our heart."
Her business has been open for less than a year, but it's already very popular in Red Lodge. For her and her husband Jake Bray, it's a dream come true.
"Food is our love language," Bray said. "It's how we show love and receive it."
The Brays moved to Red Lodge from Arkansas four years ago. Jake had family living in the area for more than 20 years, so he took Tiffany there to visit long ago. They vacationed there many more times and eventually fell in love.
"We just decided very early on that this was the end game for us," Bray said. "So, we did what we needed to do to end up in Red Lodge."
But they didn't want to just move to their vacation spot: They wanted to contribute to the community. And so, they opened the Soda Hole, with the hope of adding to the place they love.
"We thought it could be a tool to fully immerse ourselves in a community that we love," Bray said. "What better way to just give back to our community, but also offer a service that we thought could complement other businesses."
The business is truly a family affair. Bray's mother, Wendy Rain, moved to Red Lodge from Michigan to be closer to family. Much of her time in the past year has been spent helping her daughter get the business going, but you won't hear any complaints from her.
"This business has been such a blessing," Rain said. "It has honestly been the most enjoyable year of my life getting to do this with my family."
Rain said their rapid growth is thanks to the overwhelming support from the community.
"It is unreal when I think about where we started a year ago to where we are now," Rain said. "The community has loved on us since the day we started and we really couldn't do that without them."
That love is a major reason why they are auctioning off the chairs, which were made for them by Beartooth Industries at the beginning of summer. Bray had encouraged customers to sign the chairs as a memento of their first summer, but when her husband thought to turn them into charity, she jumped at the chance.
"We just wanted a snapshot of our first summer together," Bray said. "But when he said it, we just instantly knew we needed to try and make it happen."
Bray said it's an emotional moment, as the chairs represent a lot to her, but she's hopeful it can become an annual tradition.
"It's awesome to look at the names and see where they're from and know that a tiny part of their trip was spent with us," Bray said.
It's a big gesture and one that brought her mother a lot of pride.
"We're doing something we truly love, for a community that we also truly love," Rain said.