Skip to content
Follow Us on Instagram for the Latest Product Arrivals
Follow Us on Instagram for the Latest Product Arrivals

Our Family Story

Welcome to the Senne Family

We're proud to say that Import Market has become a Missoula institution after over 45 years in business. Did you know a local Missoula family built this little institution—Gene and Nancy Senne and their three hard-working children Kristal, Sam, and Shad? 

Running a family business is a rare thing these days. In the beginning, you would often find Grandma Esther working the counter. There also might be a newborn in someone's arms and a toddler waving hello as you walked into the shop.

We Senne kids grew up with a desire to travel the world, and, like our parents, bring back what we've found for the people in our community to enjoy. Missoula's only import business has changed over the years, but the goal of providing the best products at the lowest prices possible hasn't.

Import Market Adventure Began in 1970

Believe it or not, Gene's first job out of college was working in juvenile corrections in Florida, but his heart longed for Montana. After returning, he learned that Missoula's probation office wasn't hiring.

So, he thought about what he wanted to do with his life and remembered how much he enjoyed walking through Pier One. Gene sold his car, took the $2500 from his retirement fund, and drove to Mexico in a rented U-Haul. From there, he's never looked back.

Import Market started as a consignment business for Mexican imports that Gene ran out of his parents' basement. Gene was renting 20 square feet on the honors system when he moved into our current location. Now, he doesn't just own the building but the entire block.

Suitcases Filled with Culture

Gene connected with an importer in Spokane who showed him the ropes, and he began traveling to China, the Philippines, and Thailand to import items. We say dad has always had a knack for wheeling and dealing. He discovered early on that he would drive down the cost by buying in bulk, saving money for our customers. We have connections all over Asia, Central America, and South America and continue to source straight from a family in Mexico for many of our textiles. We bring back little trinkets and jewelry from every place we travel. We strive to continue to explore new places, finding sources worldwide and locally that provide quality products at an affordable cost.

Artisans and Adventures

Since 1988, Import Market has been carrying the ever-popular Fiesta ware in addition to international wares. In keeping with the family theme, we learned about Fiesta ware from our mom's older sister in Alaska, a collector. Today, we're the largest open-stock supplier of Fiesta ware in the Northwest, if not the nation. We also provide great prices on furniture, home decor, jewelry, gift items, and so much more. Import Market is where you go to find trinkets and gifts unique to Missoula.

Import Market is more than just a store full of stuff, we're also a downtown landmark full of generations of memories. We have friendly ghosts who live in the building, frequently making visits to the second floor. People come in and tell us stories about making out in the pillow room or hanging out in the blacklight poster room after partying. We were the father of Missoula's Wednesday night party night and instrumental in bringing life to downtown Missoula. More than anything, Import Market is a Dad-built, family business.

Family owned and operated for over 45 years, Import Market still holds to our dad's values. Our goal will always be to find our customers the best quality product at the lowest possible price.

Some of our favorite things:

Gene      

Fiesta ware items: Coffee Mug

Fiesta ware color: Gunmetal gray (goes great with Sage)

Favorite items: Baskets, wicker products, Nora Fleming, natural products, papier-mâché, statues, figurines

 

Kristal    

Fiesta ware items: Bistro bowls & latte mugs

Fiesta ware color: Lemongrass

Favorite items: Knit hats from Special Olympics friend Wade, tacky Mexican sweaters (Dad bought me one for my birthday, and I told him, “This is disgusting. You should buy them for the store.), Mexican jumping beans, petrified seahorses, trinkets, dragons, fairies, snow globes, kids’ sweaters, toy swords, tea sets, jewelry

 

Sam  

Fiesta ware items: Mug

Fiesta ware color: Slate, Lapis

Favorite items: Turd birds, North Dakota souvenirs, figurines, fairies, skulls, dragons, metal flowers and suns, tapestries, posters, funny stuff, tin signs