Cooke City experienced slow growth in the early 1890's, and in the summer of 1893 when the national mining economy suffered a major depression the store bagan to be used exclusively for storage. On November 14, 1895, the court authorized the sale of the store to Sophia Wetzstein for $600. She and her husband owned other property in Cooke City and were involved in the wholesale liquor business in Linvingston. A boost in mining operations in 1905 occasioned by the introduction of more efficient means of ore processing improved the local economy, and several mining companies re-opened their properties. One of these firms, the Cooke City Smelter, which began operating under the direction of George Allison, leased the Weizstein's Cooke City Store in 1906 for $300 a year for use as a general store. Allison began an extensive remodeling of the building, and in the spring and summer of 1907, the renamed Cooke City Smelter store was enlarged and sided with decorative pressed metal. Allison operated the store for two years but his ambition proved too great for the company's resources, and by the summer of 1908 the Cooke City Smelter was in serious financial difficulty. The store began selling goods at cost and for cash only, and when Allison's lease expired in July of 1908, Nels and Elizabeth Soderholm bought the store for $3000 with a $500 down payment and $500 per year for five years at six percent interest. After relinquishing the property, Allison began constructing a new store, financed from the sheriff's sale of the Cooke City Smelter, directly across the street from the Cooke City store. By the fall of 1908 the Allison Mercantile Company had opened with furnishing and fixtures from the Cooke City Store which Allison had removed for his new building.
In January, 1909, Nels became postmaster for Cooke City. In the winter, mail was brought by another postal employee from Nye (40 miles north) on skis to a cabin near Lake Abundance where Soderholm had skied Daisy Pass to deliver and retrieve the mail. The money earned by the Soderholms from the postal work enabled them to remodel the front room of the second story in their store into an apartment. While the Cooke City Store added new lines to its expanding inventory and continued to prosper, early in 1911 the Allison Mercantile Company went bankrupt. Many of the fixtures that had originally been put into the Cooke City Store when Allison had occupied it were then sold to Soderholm at a sheriff's sale and placed back in the store. In anticipation of the auto tourist industry, Nels Soderholm purchased a bulk fuel tank and hauled gasoline to a Conoco station which he operated adjacent to the store. The interior of the building was modernized by the replacement of the original gas lighting system and two Kohler diesel light planes, and by the addition of a water storage locker and septic tank.
In the summer of 1938, the Soderholm's nephew Sam Brady came to work at the store. Sam had lived with his family on an early-day Montana homestead in the Shields Valley. Nels Soderholm died in 1939, and Sam helped his Aunt Lizzy off and on during the busy summer seasons for the next decade, deciding to work at the store on a year-round basis in 1949. When Mrs. Soderholm's eyesight and general health forced her to retreat to the low-country, Sam took over full operation of the store in 1957. The early years were lean and hard. Winter heating needs required the carrying of coal from the basement to the main floor and upstairs, and on particularly cold nights the pipes would freeze and break. After several years of waging this battle, Sam installed a new, low ceiling and an oil furnace in the winter of 1963. As electric coolers and freezers revolutionized the grocery business, these modern conveniences were added, requiring the removal of some of the oak shelving.
Since its construction in 1886 when it provided miners and settlers with a wide range of merchandise, the Cooke City Store has continuously served area residents and tourists as a major source of supplies and goods in this remote area.
Note: Nels Soderholm died Sept 12, 1939 Aunt Lizzie (Elizabeth J) died 11/17/1959 Sister Elizabeth R. Bischoff died 11/27/1978