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Everything old is new again at Missoula’s Upcycled

Posted at 5:13 PM, Nov 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-26 19:13:20-05

MISSOULA — Spending on holiday shopping is projected to be even bigger than last year's record holiday season.

The group that tracks shopping, the National Retail Federation, predicts the increase could be as much as 10.5%. Additionally, the market research firm NPD says customers plan to spend an average of $785 on holiday shopping this year.

But sometimes these goods -- and the food we eat over the holidays create a lot of waste. These days, people get so trashy around the holidays.

According to Stanford University, Americans produce 25% more waste from Thanksgiving to New Year's than any other time of year. That extra garbage amounts to 25 million tons.

As the “shop small” season commences, perhaps there’s a better way to consume the endless amounts of stuff on our shopping lists.


In her signature bibs, with a paintbrush in hand, Tabitha Beard of Upcycled in Missoula likes to play a game when shoppers stop by.

“My favorite is to task kids that come in with the job of finding something made out of something else,” Beard said. “Find me a pair of earrings you think is made out of skis, or can you find something in the shop that's made out of license plates, or can you guess what that's made out of?”

After learning that each piece behind this Higgins storefront is made with repurposed materials, the response is unanimous, “oh my gosh, that’s what it is.”

Tires and vinyls, beer cans and candles, mugs, pennies, and paper -- they all have a home at Upcycled. “You're taking something that might have been on its way to a burn pile, and you're giving it another life,” Beard explained.


One of Upcycled’s 70 featured artists, Beard creates everything from miniature to mural, and she’ll tell you a block of wood is as good a canvas as any.

“This was a 2-by-4 from Home ReSource, and I'm working with soft pastels and charcoal, and a little acrylic paint,” Beard demonstrated.

The season of giving often leads to the season of wasting, but the little shop on a little corner of Missoula has a big mission to change the way consumers buy.

“We have a great slice of a local Montana. We have a great slice of ingenuity and creative minds doing really strange and awesome things, and sharing that with other people like during this holiday season and gifting things like that to people. Really kind of picks up your thoughtfulness a bit, I think. Like you're doing something kind of amazing by shopping at a store that’s repurposing/recycling. But two, you're sharing that, you're spreading it out and giving other people ideas about what materials and things can be used for.” - Tabitha Beard

Upcycled can be found at 517 South Higgins Avenue in downtown Missoula.