MISSOULA — A woman wearing a purple mask and goggles is the reason for the smell of fresh coffee and cookies as you walk through the doors of 1221 Helen Ave.
Since 2015, Tandem Bakery owners Beth Gherlein and her husband have been selling their all-vegan, gluten-free baked goods at Clark Fork Farmers Market, hoping to find retail space of their own.
“We had been looking for the right place for a long time,” said Beth Gherlein. “You know, real estate in Missoula is really tough and commercial real estate with a kitchen is really, really tough.”
And they finally found a place of their own. But it hasn’t been easy as opening a business is no easy task, but add a global pandemic to the mix and you have a whole new set of challenges.
But the growth of downtown Missoula has enabled a thriving economy. Business activity for the Downtown Missoula Partnership in 2022 shows 13 new businesses opened and one store closed to date.
“We have a lot of new people coming into the market,” said Linda McCarthy, executive director of the Downtown Missoula Partnership. “You know, there’s still probably, I don’t know, 2,500 jobs out there right now. So, you know, Missoula is a hot spot, people want to be here.
And for wholesale baking, “muffin” compares to the Missoula community.
“Along the way, since we were just a booth in the market in 2012, people have always been really excited, really supportive, really friendly, really amazing,” Gherlein said. “It was a great place to have a food business for Sure.”