'Shop Local' days kick off holiday season downtown

Cory Walsh

Small Business Saturday will hit downtown Missoula twice this year, on Nov. 27 and Dec. 4, as part of the annual drive to encourage local shopping during the holidays.

Last year, the effort, which is part of a nationwide promotion, was converted to a “Shop Local Season” here in Missoula.

“Missoulians came out in droves to support local businesses last year,” said Linda McCarthy, executive director of the Downtown Missoula Partnership.

They heard strong feedback from owners, particularly in retail, food and beverages, and their downtown gift card sales were 20% higher than 2019.

“I feel like Missoula gets it, and they recognize and understand that when they’re spending their dollars at a locally owned store … they’re circulating money in their own economy instead of sending it out to somewhere else,” she said. 

Overall, downtown saw a “robust” tourism season from June through September. “As the case numbers have risen this fall, there’s been a real split among the downtown businesses. Some have seen a decline, and some are seeing kind of a static fall,” she said, and some places still are dealing with staffing shortages.

Griz football season has been a strong driver, with a playoff game on Dec.

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