Intrigue owner brings unique vendors to region

Cancer diagnosis encouraged her to make store a reality



Lee gained the courage to pursue her passion after being diagnosed with cancer.

CARSON HOLLAND, Evergreen columnist

Intrigue owner Carrie Lee fulfilled a lifelong dream of opening and operating her own store.  

The store is located in Moscow, Idaho on Main Street and offers merchandise from around the world. Lee and her family travel around the world to bring their customers new products. Customers will find merchandise from local and international vendors from countries like Vietnam and Peru, Lee said. 

“We wanted to travel and see what those countries had to offer,” she said. “They had beautiful choices and it was fun to negotiate; we loved to travel and do the buying.” 

Lee said her travel doesn’t always involve looking for vendors, but it is exciting to find a new partner. By seeking out other small businesses, she hopes to form a beneficial connection with the vendor. 

While Lee says that there are a number of risks associated with this type of buying, the chase of finding a new partnership or new product is worth it. To avoid the risks, Lee looks for qualities with the prospective vendor and their product. 

“We look not to be taken advantage of because we were really naive at first,” she said. “With the vendors, we look for quality and price of the merchandise that they are selling.”

Lee said looking for these qualities is also important to the people she surrounds herself with. 

“I couldn’t have done it without [my husband] Jerry and [my sister-in-law] Debbie. They were the energy and clear-thinking when my brain was addled,” she said. “I had family that helped me a lot and did the legwork, I couldn’t have done it without them.” 

Lee said she has always wanted to own a store.

Lee said she worked at a small business in Pioneer Square in Seattle. This was what inspired her to open her own store. But fear of failure discouraged her.

Lee decided to pursue her dream after being diagnosed with breast cancer. It was the push she needed to make her dream a reality, she said.

”When I was diagnosed with cancer and went through chemo, my husband and sister-in-law said they would help with it,” she said. “I kept thinking that this is crazy, but if not now then when.”

Lee did not know if she was going to survive, and the business was started when she was still in treatment, she said. 

Lee said the customers have been a big part of improving her confidence with moving the business forward.  

“The positive feedback that we have gotten from our customers has helped. The sales and success of the store has helped. It confirmed for me that it was okay and this was going to work,” she said.

The move to Main Street from their prior location helped traffic for the store drastically, she said. 

The COVID-19 pandemic affected the business like many others, Lee said.

“During the first part we shut down for a few months, then reopened with limited hours,” she said. “We set up a sign saying to wear a mask and that seemed to work. We followed the lead of the state on what we needed to do.”  

Lee said despite the difficulties the pandemic has presented, the community she has found within the rest of the vendors on Main Street helped get them through COVID-19. 

“They have all been really welcoming here, always encouraging us. We didn’t feel like that as much at our old location, not that there wasn’t a community, but here it feels much more present,” she said. 

Lee said Colter’s Creek Tasting Room has been a great friend to her business.

While COVID-19 has affected the way they do business, Lee is looking forward to easier travel and bringing more products to her customers. 

“Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams. We don’t know how much time we have so it is really important that if you have a dream to act on it,” she said.