It’s time to shine, Flathead Valley. While many of us are concerned about the influx of new visitors to our once quiet valley, we can’t deny that tourism is a major driver of our local economy. The COVID-19 epidemic placed a spotlight on mountain towns like ours, and Glacier National Park continues to be a massive draw, again reminding us that we make our home in the sparkling jewel of the Crown of the Continent.
For small businesses like Kalispell Brewing Company, the summer tourist season is what buoys us. And my casual observation of other small businesses is that this is the time of year when our shops are full, and we’re welcoming visitors with genuine Montana hospitality. This past year has been incredibly challenging due to the pandemic, and many business operations like mine had to close for a few months in response to the crisis. Now, with the highly effective and safe vaccine to protect against the coronavirus, life feels a bit more normal and I know our crew at the brewery is more than ready to open our doors to welcome both locals and visitors alike.
I consider customer service the bedrock of any business and after a long year of endurance, I can tell so many of us business owners and workers are thrilled to have our small downtowns full of shoppers. I love walking into my favorite shops and hearing that loud welcome and seeing giant smiles from employees as I inquire about finding a gift for a new baby, or taste a new sweet treat and swap stories from a weekend spent in the woods. I love bumping into friends at cafes and breweries, all of us thrilled that we’re fully vaccinated and can safely enjoy dining again.
I’ve long believed that there truly is genuine Montana hospitality – it’s almost an art form and truly special to this special place. It’s warm, kind and helpful. It’s backed by a good joke and a hearty laugh. It’s welcoming the stranger, and offering a smile when someone needs it most. And I know that it will continue to shine, especially when the world is healing and folks are drawn to the beauty of this place.
Maggie Doherty is the owner of Kalispell Brewing Company on Main Street.
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