Kalispell Paint Shop Closing After 90 Years

By Beacon Staff

Inside their family’s downtown storefront last week, Wayne and Dale Saverud flipped through two binders stuffed with mementos, recollecting almost 100 years of history.

There were gritty black and white photos of their father and his brothers as young men leaning on the side of a Ford Model T. There were faded receipts for the family’s paint store, such as an $18 bill from May 1, 1944, for work at Flathead County High School. There were images of landmark sites in the fledgling town of Kalispell, many of which remain standing today.

The Saverud Paint Shop at 315 First Ave. E. is one such relic, but the small, vibrant business that has been a part of Kalispell since 1923 is in its final days. Wayne and Dale, the latest generation of Saverud brothers in charge, made the difficult decision to close the doors at the end of this month.

“It’s bittersweet,” Wayne said. “It was a hard decision but it was a logical one and one that we’ve toyed with for a couple years. We’ve had a lot of great support over the years and it’s time to do something else without so much stress.”

Their decision hinged largely on recent changes in the industry and local marketplace. As the city has grown in size over the years, so has the competition. At the same time, the sale of wallpaper, which for years made up more than half of Saverud’s business, fell off with the ebbs and flows of architectural styles.

“It’s just gotten very difficult to compete with the box stores,” Dale said. “The demand for wallpaper dropped 50 percent over the course of five years, and several distributors have gone out of business.”

The Saveruds’ store will ride out its remarkable 90-year run with a blowout sale. Then Wayne and Dale hope to find a replacement business that will enjoy the storefront setting in the heart of Kalispell.

“Our core area has to stay viable to maintain a healthy community,” said Wayne, who is a longtime city councilor. “Somebody will find this fits their needs.”

In the early 1920s, the Saveruds emigrated from Norway. They made a stop in North Dakota but continued on to the Flathead Valley, where the railroad had begun transforming this quiet corner of Montana into a growing economic center.

John Saverud, one of 17 siblings, bought out Angel’s Hardware store at 315 First Ave. in 1923 and rebranded it as the family business. The store’s previous owners had moved the front section of the building up from Demersville and attached it as an extension. John opened the paint shop as a community source for contracting and decorating of paints, oils, glass and wallpaper. Berger Saverud, John’s brother and Wayne and Dale’s father, started an adjacent business as a paint contractor and worked side by side with his brother. Their other sibling, Pete, eventually took over and it continued to become the largest wallpaper dealer in town and one of the main sources for paint.

Wayne and Dale grew up working inside the family business, sweeping floors and other jobs after school or during the summer months.

After leaving home for college and working for a short time as a teacher, Wayne returned to Kalispell and, in 1971, bought the building, which included the paint shop and a large upstairs apartment, and carried on the family legacy. As tradition would have it, he employed his younger brother Dale. When Wayne was ready to hand it off, Dale took over and has served as store manager the last decade.

Wayne Saverud holds a photograph of his father, Berger Saverud, standing in front of a Model T car “chopped” into a truck used as a Saverud Paint Shop vehicle taken in the late ‘20s or early ‘30s in Kalispell. – Lido Vizzutti | Flathead Beacon

Now the Saveruds are turning the page on another chapter. Wayne will continue working at Immanuel Lutheran Communities and Dale will spend some time making plans for what’s next.

The store may be closing, but the good memories are intact. Two binders’ worth and more.

“We’ve met a lot of nice people here,” Dale said.

“It’s always kind of amazing how people might not have been in the store for years, but they still remember coming in years ago,” Wayne added.

“We’re grateful for all the years and all the friends.”

Saverud Paint Shop is located at 315 First Ave. E. in Kalispell. Call 755-6699.

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