President’s Article: March

Downtown Missoula is in such an exciting place as we begin the long trudge out of winter and into spring. It might seem like it will never come after this previous week, but as does the changing landscape of downtown, the weather will undoubtedly change as well. Since we don’t have warm weather to look forward to in the immediate future we can look forward to all the great businesses and places opening up in Downtown!

Wally & Buck is officially open and it is an amazing place to grab a burger and a beer with the family (on a side note I parked in the ROAM parking garage and it was super easy and there were plenty of spots!). The Mercantile is about to open and I encourage everyone to walk in and check it out. This space in Downtown has held such an important role for our thriving economy in the past, and though most of the original building is not there, the space will again continue to hold that role after a long absence. My hope is it will again continue to drive traffic, bring people from out of town and all over town, and create an economic multiplier for the rest of Downtown.

We can all play a role in that by supporting the hotel and all of the businesses that will go in there. We all play a role in its success and its relationship with the community. The original Mercantile was such an important piece of Downtown Missoula and I know that this one will be as well. The building inside and out was done with care and intention and is such a great addition.

As more and more businesses are announced to go into the Mercantile, reach out to them and welcome them to our community. As new entrepreneurs choose downtown as the home for their idea, take the time to get to know them and help them where you can. Each person that chooses downtown has a belief, as we all do, in how it is the heartbeat of Missoula and the best place to do business. In that belief we are all connected.

I always use the end of winter to internally think of how our business can do better and what we can work on. Some of these things are difficult to think through and execute on while some are much simpler. Some are as simple as a new coat of paint on the exterior while some are creating and maintaining a company culture. One thing that we can all work on and has been offered to us through the downtown master plan consultants is access to a renowned urban retail planning and development consultant Bob Gibbs. He has offered to help anyone in our downtown with their specific store exterior and interior and give them feedback, insight, and ideas about what is working well for us and what we can be doing better. If you haven’t had a chance to hear him talk or would like to talk to him further please get in touch with the MDA on how to do so. I was fortunate enough to have him walk down with me to the restaurant and eat and get his feedback on our space, and it was well worth my time to do so. It is the small things that we change and update that help our specific stores and the entire feeling of Downtown as a whole.

Try and enjoy the last of the snow and see you Downtown!

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