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Local Bozeman businesses booming as big-box presence grows

BOZEMAN, Mont. – It’s a big weekend for a lot of local businesses in Downtown Bozeman.

Many have special events, from welcoming famous authors to preparing for hundreds of customers for national store celebrations.

With the city expanding and big box stores moving in, these smaller stores say it is a testament to how well independent businesses are doing, despite the big box growth.

A growing city means growing business.

Big box stores become more commonplace, which means smaller, independent businesses usually have a big-name to compete with.

The locally-owned businesses along Main Street say, despite that, they are doing well.

“Business is booming,” says Mike Good, owner of Cactus Records. “It’s a great place to be in business right now.”

Store owners Mike “Bueno” Good says there is no cramping Downtown Bozeman’s style when it comes to locally-owned businesses like his.

He adds that hasn’t always been the case.

“Downtown Bozeman has really turned around,” Good says. “A few years ago, there were empty spaces up and down Main Street and things were not looking great. We came to a point, actually, where we thought were going to have to close our doors or I thought that. We’re still here.”

Good says with events like Record Store Day this weekend stand as a testament to how far businesses like his have come.

“[Saturday] morning before we open, there’ll be a line down the street,” Good says. “There’s, like, 400-plus limited edition releases that come out. They are just available on Record Store Day. It is incredibly fun.”

For owners like Good, he says the big difference could come down to personality.

“I feel like box stores are a little bit homogenized in it’s something you have to do,” Good says. “It’s not an enjoyable shopping experience. You go to box stores really because that’s really something you have to do, I guess

Owner of Country Bookshelf Ariana Paliobagis agrees: while decades ago, there may have been a decline when the big-boxes were moving in, she says that the city has figured out how to keep up.

“I think people really recognize the value that we bring to the community to make it a unique place,” Paliobagis says.

Paliobagis adds she credits those coming into her store.

With nationally-renowned author John Pavlovitz making a Sunday visit and a large turnout expected, she says that is an example.

“It’s the people,” Paliobagis says. “The people around here come here because of the great community feel. They come here for the outdoors and they don’t want this to feel like any other town. They want it to be its unique character.”

Whether its people or personality, some say it’s both.

“We have been here for, like, 40 years in Downtown Bozeman and we aren’t going anywhere,” Good says.

Author John Pavlovitz will be at the Country Bookshelf at 3 o’clock on Sunday.

Record Store Day will last all-day and Cactus Records, which is hosting a big event for it, is right across the street.

Cody Boyer

Cody Boyer

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