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A deep dive into why Missoula’s local economy is thriving

MISSOULA – Local shops, restaurants, and markets helped make Missoula the special place it is today.

There is a vibrant city center where you can only do small shopping. But has that always been the case?

When you walk or drive to downtown Missoula, it’s hard to imagine a time when there weren’t all local store fronts. However, Linda McCarthy, executive director of Downtown Missoula Partnership, says that downtown used to look a little different.

“You know it hasn’t always been that way, you know we’ve had department stores in our history,” McCarthy said.

Missoula still has a few chain operations, particularly in the food industry, but that doesn’t make Missoula what it is today.

McCarthy, who has been in the partnership for over 15 years, says the sense of community helped keep the small feel of the store alive.

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

“We have a culture of entrepreneurship, you know, Missoula is a little different about that,” McCarthy said.

Many local facilities are owned by their owners, which is one of the reasons Missoula’s economy is so localized. They are friends who support friends, neighbors, and family members.

“Most of the time, we see the business owners working at the checkout,” McCarthy said.

Callaghan says he felt the little help from the Missoula shop.

“Because Missoula is such a great area to live in and people really want to support the local businesses, if it’s retail stores, restaurants, bars and the like, people really support us,” Callaghan said.

One of the best aspects of the localized Missoula economy is the ability to help one another and to join hands when necessary.

“We really, really promote each other because there are companies where we just stand behind each other and push each other to support each other,” said Callaghan.

From startups to storefronts, the local economy is what makes Missoula such a special place.

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