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A deep dive into why Missoula's local economy thrives

Downtown Missoula
Downtown Missoula
Downtown Missoula
Posted at 4:32 PM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 18:56:53-04

MISSOULA — Local shops, restaurants and markets, is what have helped make Missoula the special place it is today. There is a vibrant downtown where to shop small is the only way to shop. But has it always been this way?

When you walk or drive into downtown Missoula, it is hard to imagine a time when it wasn’t all locally owned storefronts. However, Downtown Missoula Partnership executive director Linda McCarthy says downtown used to look a bit different.

“You know that's not always been that way you know in our history we've had department stores,” said McCarthy.

Downtown Missoula

Missoula still has some chain establishments, especially in the food industry, but that doesn’t make Missoula what it is today.

McCarthy, who has been with the partnership for over 15 years, says the sense of community has helped keep the shop small atmosphere alive.

“Really good support from the local community,” noted Clover owner Shannon Callaghan.

“We have a culture for entrepreneurship, you know, Missoula is just a little bit different in that regard,” said McCarthy.

Many local establishments are operated by their owners which is part of the reason why Missoula’s economy is so localized. It is friends supporting friends, neighbors, and family members.

Downtown Missoula

“Most times, we'll see the business owners working the cash register working the floor,” said McCarthy.

Callaghan says he's felt the Missoula shop small support.

“Because Missoula is such a great area to live and people really want to support the local businesses if it's retail shops, restaurants, bars and things like that people really really support us." - Clover owner Shannon Callaghan

One of the best parts of the localized economy in Missoula is the ability to help each other out and provide a hand up when needed.

“We really, really promote each other because there's the businesses we just stand behind each other and push each other to support each other,” said Callaghan.

From startups to storefronts, the localized economy makes Missoula such a special place to be.