Facing Main

A Thriving Downtown Kalispell

Our local businesses are the backbone of our community

By Maggie Doherty

In what was an incredibly difficult year for small businesses, I am stunned and inspired by the confidence of the Flathead business community. Take one look at Kalispell’s Main Street and you’ll see more new businesses than shuttered shopfronts. There are even new businesses, like Modern Pastime, that opened in the pandemic. Downtown continues to grow, and I’m so impressed with its resilience during a most challenging and uncertain year. 

Kalispell welcomes many news businesses, and established businesses continue to weather the difficulties COVID-19 presented. I applaud the grit and determination. Our local businesses are the backbone of our community, from the cafés and coffee shops where you get your favorite treat, or the children’s stores like Nature Baby Outfitter where you get that adorable gift for a newborn. From breweries and ice cream shops to clothing stores and gift shops, downtown Kalispell continues to grow. 

During this bumpy year, I took heart from the “It’s going to be okay” sunny yellow mural outside of Montana Modern Fine Art gallery. Artist Tessa Heck’s message of hope was a welcomed reminder during the crisis. Kalispell boasts a wide array of murals, and if you need any further encouragement to support your small business community, let the colorful street art from Bias Brewery to the 10-cent coffee cowboy at Sykes raise your spirits. 

As spring inspires us to emerge from our own variations of winter hibernation, I encourage you to walk up and down the sidewalks of downtown Kalispell, and see the new businesses that have recently opened or have continued to be your longstanding favorites like Norm’s News and Imagination Station. And, although the newest decadent sweet spot isn’t located exactly downtown, if you haven’t checked out The Spot you have no idea what you’re missing. Pro tip: get a donut from The Spot and then walk around downtown while your taste buds explode with delight. 

From the looks of it, our downtown has endured the pandemic and needs your help to continue to thrive. Shop local, and you’ll likely be surprised by how many businesses boast unique goods or services. To make sure businesses stay open and employees remain healthy, please continue to wear your mask. While we are still wading through uncertain times, our vibrant downtown paves the way toward certainty, showing us that, yes, it will be OK. 

Maggie Doherty is the owner of Kalispell Brewing Company on Main Street.

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