The growing focus this year on the importance of shopping local is such a positive development. Montana’s locally owned businesses have increased in the past few years (spoiler alert: we’re one of them), but 2020 brought new challenges that many of us could never have even imagined. So if there was ever a time to skip scrolling and spending on Amazon and instead keep your money closer to home, it’s now.
Whether you choose to shop local in order to reduce your climate change impact, invest in and support your community, or create better quality jobs in your area, you have so many options at your fingertips going into the holidays. While Small Business Saturday may look a little different for 2020, many businesses are innovating for the holidays — offering shopping appointments, virtual personalized shopping, curbside pickup, etc. There really isn’t a reason not to shop local this year.
Here in Missoula, there are so many fantastic local businesses to support, but these are the ones we find ourselves most drawn to as the holidays approach.
Our Top 10 Shop Local Choices
There is truly something for everyone at Missoula’s artist-owned cooperative gallery. Featuring local and regional fine craft and art, this shop was founded so that artists could display their art independently but join together to establish a gallery as a smarter, better business setup that could be a larger part of the community.
What we’re gifting: A handmade wooden cribbage board. Everyone needs extra entertainment while hibernating this winter!
If you haven’t tried Grist’s whole grain breads and baked goods yet, you’re missing out. While we’ll definitely be purchasing Grist goods for our own holiday celebrations, they make for great gifts as well. Grist uses whole-grain, fresh-milled flours that are healthier, easier to digest, and longer-lasting. All of their ingredients are organic, and they buy their grain within Montana, mainly through Montana Flour and Grain, which is a co-op of organic farmers.
What we’re gifting: Their hearty porridge hearth loaf plus milled grain for our favorite home bakers. And buying their holiday special supper rolls for our own table. But if you’re near Black Coffee soon, we recommend treating yourself to a classic croissant. They’re as close to Paris as you’ll ever feel in Montana.
Missoula’s downtown shopping scene just keeps improving. The General Public is a lifestyle shop that focuses on unique goods from sustainable and ethical brands. The slow fashion movement is growing across the U.S. as more designers and consumers focus on slower production schedules, fair wages and smaller carbon footprints. Brands that you would never expect to find in Missoula, Montana, are now here thanks to The General Public. Plus the shop has its own house line — truly Montana made.
What we’ll be gifting: Jewelry for the ladies in our lives, though the boutique recently started carrying menswear, too.
This list is full of amazing new businesses, but there are a few staples we have to share, and one of them is Bernice’s Bakery. Bernice’s provides a wide array of quality baked goods from cakes and cupcakes to cookies and pies. This Missoula institution is where we head for our statement sweets; their holiday specials have become a big part of our traditions.
What we’re gifting: Apple and pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, cream puffs and other goodies for Christmas.
Soft Landing Missoula works hard to make our community welcoming and supportive for refugees who resettle here. From offering a resource center to community education and outreach, this organization has accomplished so much in a short time. Our favorite way to support their efforts is through their United We Eat program, which holds specialized events to provide economic opportunities to refugee chefs, coordinates a supper club, and offers entrepreneurship support.
What we’re gifting: United We Eat usually has killer holiday cookie sales that make for the ideal gifts for friends and neighbors. We’re suckers for the baklava and Afghan sheer pria.
Believe it or not, this restaurant is only a year old. But what a year it’s been… One where we’ve taken much solace in a good taco. Or five. For fantastic Mexican food in an ideal atmosphere, check out The Camino. Their corn, beans and dried chiles all come from Mexico via a company that only trades fairly and works directly with farmers. You won’t forget their refried beans, housemade salsas, and carnitas taco. And if you haven’t tried a mezcal margarita, here’s your perfect chance.
What we’re gifting: One of the easiest presents there is — the guaranteed-to-please gift card.
Did you think we could call out Grist without coming back to Black Coffee? This has been a local favorite of ours since they opened simply because we trust their sourcing so much. It’s the best of both worlds when something tastes great and is sustainably sourced. They buy 100 percent organic coffee in order to protect the people who grow it and the land it's grown on.
What we’re gifting: Coffee beans! You can’t go wrong with any of their roasts. We urge you to step outside your usual preferences.
You’ll be unsurprised to find that we at High Road Edibles are in full support of all things green. While 2020 has been marked by home improvement for many, our favorite rising trend has been getting more greenery into our homes (where we now spend so much of our time!). Whether you’ve already been adding more houseplants to the mix or not, we’re sure you’ll fall in love with Leaf + Quiet. This shop offers a wide variety of houseplants, beautiful pots, and an eclectic mix of gifts for your favorite green thumb.
What we’re gifting: A safe bet is a ZZ plant (dubbed the easy ZZ for its low-maintenance care), but a gorgeous pot and a gift card seems like an ideal present.
There are so many lesser known treasures in Missoula, and we hope those of you reading this will share your favorites with us. For us, Anomal Press is that treasure. This artist’s fine relief prints took a little longer to land on our radar (he may already be on yours), but we’ve been following along with David Miles Lusk’s journey ever since stumbling upon a print of his on Instagram.
What we’re gifting: David’s art truly allows you to tailor your present to its recipient. Have a favorite forager? Grab one of his mushroom morel hunt prints. A favorite fisherman? Of course there’s a trout print!
Started with the planting of 2,500 cider apple trees in the Bitterroot Valley, Western Cider has become a year-round staple for Missoula, but their phenomenal cider feels especially fitting for the holidays. Their great taste alone would make us fans, but it’s hard not to love Western even more because of their annual apple drive. They make a yearly hard cider by taking donations from the community — yes, those less-than-beautiful apples still make for great cider! And they give 10 percent of its sales to the Great Bear Foundation.
What we’re gifting: The McIntosh single variety cider remains our crisp, classic choice, but the holidays call for something special — one of their estate blends (or even better, the whole bundle).