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METHOW VALLEY, Okanogan County — Cold didn’t faze Molly Starcher as she hauled 20-pound bags of confectioners’ sugar barehanded from Winthrop’s snow-covered boardwalk into The Little Dipper Café & Bakery on a zero-degree late December day.

Starcher, 27, graduated from a business incubator program and opened the sweet shop in September to showcase her Nutella-stuffed cookies and what she claims are the only macarons within a 100-mile radius. But she also took the entrepreneurial plunge as a financial strategy to secure a stable place to live amid a nationwide housing shortage that has manifested more acutely in small towns with plentiful outdoor recreation, like this remote corner of North Central Washington.