Driving northbound on U.S. Highway 93 sits a small building on the left, usually buzzing with activity.
Hummingbird Toys and Treats closed its doors Saturday after 30 years of business.
Owners Tony and Michele Hoyt decided to close their business to retire, Tony said Friday as he juggled customers, the phone and an interview with the media.
“We’re in good health,” Hoyt began.
He said the couple wants to visit and explore the state as well as the country while they still can.
Hoyt, 73, and his wife, 72, are the only employees of the candy store.
The store opened in 1988, Hoyt said the business started as a candy store with gifts but over the next three decades, toys, trinkets and other goods were added to the inventory.
“This is the oldest, continuously owned business in Arlee,” he shared.
Hoyt, upbeat and making conversation with each of the eight people buying candy, offered a “15-second candy store tour” of the 750 square feet, filled to the brim with goods.
The arrival of Kookaburra licorice helped Hoyt bring licorice to the area.
“I loved it. My customers went crazy because there hadn’t been” any quality licorice around, Hoyt said.
Asking a distributor if there are other types of licorice, he was told that he “hadn’t scratched the surface” with the Kookaburra.
Following the distributor’s advice, Hoyt brought in other types of licorice from around the world, which his customers he said went “nuts” over.
Offering more than 60 types of licorice as well as chocolates and other candies, Hoyt said tourists have come back to have visit the Hummingbird, as well as regular customers from around the area.
“I’ll miss our visitors,” Hoyt said, stopping for a moment.
Hoyt said that he doesn’t have any single interaction that stands out in memory.
“I have so many (memorable encounters), I don’t know where to start,” he said.
In hindsight, Hoyt said he wishes he would have had a world map and added pushpins to a country each time a person has visited over the years.
The Hummingbird was more than a tourist destination.
Hoyt recalled that the couples’ children started their retail experience at the Hummingbird, later applying skills they learned at the family business in their youth.
The Hoyts, who are from the Jocko area, will spend their time visiting their four children, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
“We really shrunk our garden” in recent years, Hoyt said, and now with the extra time the garden may expand, he added.
“If I can travel around Montana in all of May and June and in September, great,” he said, explaining he wants to visit “the depths” of the state with Michele.
“It’s too great around here,” Hoyt said, smiling.