- Associated Press - Monday, May 23, 2016

PINE RIDGE, S.D. (AP) - Baptiste “Bat” Pourier and his wife, Patty, like to say they’re semi-retired, but they are plenty active doing business, and keeping things local, this time in the reservation town of Pine Ridge.

“I don’t think a person should retire. I’ve seen a lot of people do that, and they just get old,” Bat Pourier said on a recent Thursday, as he wound down from a grand re-opening celebration at Pine Ridge Oil, and the launch of their latest business venture, Pine Ridge Trading Co., in downtown Pine Ridge.

The new general store will add a much-needed retail boost to Pine Ridge, a town at the heart of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where economic growth has come slowly, the Rapid City Journal (https://bit.ly/1OPdeMz ) reported.

Bat and Patty purchased Pine Ridge Oil from the daughter of its founder Al Hemingway in 2007.

The service station offers mechanic services, oil changes and tire repairs along with bulk fuel deliveries. But about a year ago, the Pouriers decided to add on the Pine Ridge Trading Co., featuring gift and souvenir items, jewelry, scarves, hats, original artwork, purses, blankets and drums, Black Hills gold and Black Hills silver.

“We wanted to make it a nice place where people could come and get a good gift right here in Pine Ridge, without having to go out of town,” Patty said. “And one of the other things we like is the sales tax goes back to the tribe, so it continues to help the community.”

Staying local was also the emphasis in choosing Medicine Root Construction from Kyle and Murdock Electric of Pine Ridge for renovation of the interior and exterior of the building in a rustic trading post motif, she said.

The recent grand reopening included a proclamation from Oglala Sioux Tribe President John Yellow Bird Steele, who honored longtime Pine Ridge Oil employee Marsha Lehman for her 34 years with the business.

“The president recognized her for her dedicated service and for treating people with dignity and respect. She worked with the previous owner and now she’s working for us,” Patty said.

The Pouriers have deep business ties to Pine Ridge and surrounding communities in southwestern South Dakota and the Nebraska Panhandle.

They founded the first of a chain of Big Bats gas and convenience stores in Pine Ridge in 1989, expanding with two locations in Hot Springs and single stores in Chadron, Nebraska, and Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

They operated another fuel transport business, were partners in a propane company and helped re-establish the Lakota Country Times newspaper.

Bat and Patty sold the five Big Bats convenience stores to their sons, Tye and Corey Pourier, in 2007 and also sold the newspaper to current owner, editor and publisher Connie Louise Smith.

They also currently operate an automatic teller machine installation and service business, along with the trading post and service station, and maintain a small cattle ranch near Chadron.

“Being in business gets in your system and you can’t get it out,” Bat said.

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Information from: Rapid City Journal, https://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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