Coffee’s on, as border town McDermitt gets a new business

Ashley Buckingham sells coffee drinks and a coffee branded for her new business. Somewhere Out West opened recently in McDermitt, located in southern Malheur County on the Oregon-Nevada state line. (Submitted photo)

McDERMITT – The town of McDermitt, which has drawn attention simply for straddling a state line, now has a new attraction to give drivers cause to pause. 

Ashley Buckingham recently opened Somewhere Out West Coffee and Eats on U.S. Highway 95, about 400 yards north of the Oregon-Nevada border. The business sells coffee drinks, bakery items, salads and paninis, and also showcases local goods.

While the business makes a refreshing stop for travelers passing through this remote area, Buckingham really had the local community in mind for her business. After another stopping place and eatery closed this year, she felt people from the area could use somewhere to sit and visit over coffee.

She acknowledges her timing, with a pandemic underway, raised some eyebrows.

“My biggest worries were that so many businesses seemed to be shutting down, and here I was, talking about opening one,” she said.

Still, she felt that especially now, “people need something positive like this.”

So she pushed ahead with her plan, with help from the Malheur County Economic Development Department.

“They offered business advice and helped me find resources for startup expenses,” she said. “I will be forever thankful for them.”

Buckingham leased some space in a building that once housed a gas station, then a small convenience market, and then sat empty. She fixed up the interior with a small seating area, restrooms and display space for her branded coffee beans. She also has ample room outdoors for seating and patio heaters for events.

Her vision also included a marketplace for products and artwork representative of the town and the region, so the shop offers an array of such items – honey, books, silk scarves and more. It also showcases a mini-gallery of works by photographer and author Victoria Jackson, noted for her portraits of tribal members and scenes of western life.

The population of McDermitt alone was estimated to be 213 in 2018, although the 2010 Census offered a combined population of 513 for the unincorporated town, the surrounding ranchland and the nearby Fort McDermitt Indian Reservation.

As a sixth-generation rancher from nearby Paradise Valley, Nevada, Buckingham has deep roots in the region and its culture.

She went to high school in Winnemucca, and then to college at Great Basin College in Elko. She returned home to help her dad on the family ranch, and about four years ago went to work for Nevada Rancher Magazine.

She lives in McDermitt with her biggest supporter, Tim Maher, a multi-generational rancher from the McDermitt area who helps her with the upkeep of the building, and her 4-year-old daughter, BobiRose. She also calls Paradise Valley home. When not running the coffee shop, she has a herd of cows to tend and continues as editor and ad sales representative for the magazine.

Buckingham has one full-time employee – a friend and experienced barista, Kenzie Johnson – and the two women split the hours.

BobiRose also is “helping” with the business.

“She’s already picked up on the bendy straws and the sprinkles,” Buckingham said.

She said the coffee shop had a good reception for its “soft opening” and held its first “after-hours create” last weekend, with participants making Halloween décor and crafts.

A grand opening is set for this weekend, with social distancing and other Covid precautions in place. Friday events will include a mini-photo session from 3 to 5 p.m., outdoor activities from 5 to 7 p.m. and an open mic from 3 to 7 p.m.

On Halloween, which is Saturday, there will be a costume and decorated mask contest with prizes from 3-5 p.m. and a trunk-or-treat, with limited parking space, from 5 to 7 p.m.

Event times are listed in Pacific Time. While most of Malheur County is in the Mountain Time Zone, McDermitt and a southernmost sector of the county are not.

More details about the event and sign up information are available on Somewhere Out West’s Facebook page.

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