September 30, 2020
Written By: Main Street Square
For the past 36 years General Manager, Dan Tribby has been working with the Hillenbrand family, regional artists, and staff at Prairie Edge to preserve multiple traditions. Prairie Edge has been a conduit for Native American culture, regional artists, and Rapid City to showcase the Northern Plains, its people and everything they have to offer.
Prairie Edge was founded by both Dale Lamphere and Danny Chapman, both of Sturgis. An aged chicken coop was the beginning of Prairie Edge and we still think often of those days of such humble beginnings. Ray Hilenbrand got involved about 1980 and with his leadership and financing, Prairie Edge began the journey that it is still on today.
Since expanding their current location on the corner of 6th and Main Street in 1993, Prairie Edge has been a place where regional artists can showcase their culture and artwork while acting as a conduit for the Native American culture and Rapid City. “Fairness is the key to everything,” stated Tribby. “Ray always wanted us to do what is right and that included ensuring these artists could get a fair price for their work.”
While showcasing the culture of the region, Prairie Edge, the Hillenbrand Family, Tribby and staff have created a culture of their own inside of the store that has brought the business acclaim from around the world. “Over half of the staff has been here 10 years and we have a lot of staff that has been here for 20 years including one of the original founders Danny
Chapman and his wife Lynelle who have been here every step of the way.” When asked what he attributes to the ability to keep staff for such a long time he explained, “It’s about balance like a three legged stool, each leg needs to be strong to hold up and when all three aspects, employees, customers and artists are all treated fairly we will be successful. Because we have employees that have been here so long, they can teach the new employees the traditions that have made us successful,” added Tribby. “Preserving traditions is a must in the Native
American culture and Ray started that here at Prairie Edge and the staff has been able to carry that on.” That mindset and culture helped Prairie Edge be selected as the 2020 Retailer of the year by the South Dakota Retailers Association.
What was the biggest “break” for Prairie Edge?
Dances With Wolves was littered with footage from Prairie Edge and when that movie came out everyone wanted a part of the culture which helped regional artists.
What is the biggest accomplishment for the business?
We are a conduit for the reservations, artists, Rapid City and the state. This is showcased during cultural events like Pow Wow and LNI. We get to host people from all walks of life to come here and break bread.
What is the biggest misconception about Prairie Edge?
That Prairie Edge makes a lot of money. Ray’s vision was to reinvest any money made back into the business; whether it was reinvested in our employees, the artists, or the business. He was, and we are very proud of that! Mimi Hillenbrand, Ray's daughter, has been a huge part of Prairie Edge for about 10 years. She is the owner now for about 6 years and shares the same love for Native culture. Mimi is also very busy with running the Triple Seven Bison Ranch in Hermosa.