Shopping local is the theme every day at the Missoula Chamber of Commerce, but even more so during the holidays.

President and CEO Kim Latrielle said on Friday, November 30, that convincing consumers to spend their money here in Missoula is their main focus.

"Encouraging people to shop in Missoula is always important to the chamber, because those are the folks that support our local kids in Little Grizzly football and in the plays and other local events," LaTrielle said. "The chamber's job is to promote the whole community and to make sure that shoppers have easy access to all the places they need to go, We collaborate with organizations like Southgate Mall and the Missoula Downtown Association that are trying to communicate with areas outside the state to get people to come to Missoula."

LaTrielle is not a fan of depending on holidays and Grizzly football games to get visitors to spend their money in Missoula. She believes a better way is for Missoula to build a year-round events center.

"Retail stores definitely depend on these big holiday weekends to survive," LaTrielle said. "One thing we've been working on here at the chamber for a long time is an events center, so that we're not as dependent on the holidays. Maybe if we had some big events coming all year long, we could enjoy the holiday season and not feel all that pressure. We're trying to bring money in all year long, so that retail and lifestyle businesses like hotels, motels, restaurants and more can make it in this community, because they're so important."

One of the biggest competitors to brick-and-mortar stores in Missoula is online sales during the holidays. LaTrielle said most local businesses will do their best to match online prices.

"I can probably get a lot of merchandise online a little cheaper than I can in town, but I always shop local," LeTrielle said. "I go down to the store and let them know about the online prices, and most of them are pretty darn good about honoring that price if they can. That way, I can look my local merchants in the eye when I ask for their support of the chamber, because they know I walk the walk, and not just talk the talk when it comes to shopping local."

LaTrielle and the chamber encourage consumers to shop locally, even if it may cost a few dollars more, because those dollars will be staying here in Missoula.

Missoula Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kim LaTrielle



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