MISSOULA — A woman in a purple mask and glasses is the reason for the smell of fresh coffee and cookies when you step inside the doors of 1221 Helen Avenue in Missoula.
Since 2015, Tandem Bakery owners Beth Gherlein and her husband have been selling their all-vegan and gluten-free baked goods at the Clark Fork Farmers Market, with hopes of finding a retail space to call their own.
“We’ve been looking for just the right spot for a long time," said Beth Gherlein. "You know, real estate in Missoula is really tough and commercial real estate with a kitchen is really, really tough.”
They finally found a place to call their own. But it didn’t come easy as opening a business isn’t an easy task, but add a global pandemic into the mix and you have a new set of challenges.
But the growth in Downtown Missoula has made for a thriving economy with the 2022 Downtown Missoula Partnership Business Activity shows 13 new businesses opening, and one store closure, to date.
“We have a lot of new people moving into the marketplace," said Linda McCarthy, Downtown Missoula Partnership executive director. "You know, there's still probably, I don't know, 2,500 jobs in the marketplace right now. So, you know, Missoula is a hot spot, people want to be here.”
And for the wholesale bakery, "muffin" compares to the Missoula community.
“Along the way, ever since we were just a booth at the market in 2012, people have always been really excited, really supportive, really friendly, really amazing," said Gherlein. "It was a great place to have a food business for sure.”