Big Horn Center sees revitalization

By Sarah Gianelli EBS Contributor

BIG SKY – Drivers zooming up toward the more established retail hubs of Meadow Village, Town Center and Big Sky Resort have often overlooked the Big Horn Center for their shopping needs. But Big Horn business owners have joined together to reverse this trend, and have reason to believe that it might be destined to change.

For the first time in memory of retailers who have been there the longest, the entire complex—located north of the intersection of U.S. Highway 191 and Lone Mountain Trail and consisting of three multilevel buildings—is at full capacity, with 15 eclectic businesses that are proving to generate more clientele for all.

Ryan and Angi Turner, of Ryan Turner Photography, have been exhibiting Ryan’s nature and outdoor adventure photography in the Big Horn Center since 2010, and in their current gallery next to Bugaboo Café since January 2015.

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Ryan and Angi Turner kept the doors of Ryan Turner Photography open late and the wine flowing to generate awareness of the eclectic array of businesses in the Big Horn Center. PHOTOGRAPH BY SARAH GIANELLI

“It used to be very empty,” Angi said. “[The gift shop] Moosely Montana had left. There was really nothing going on. But recently we filled up the entire building, which is really exciting because it’s never been full since we’ve been here.”

When former NFL player Tom Newberry bought the property in August 2014, it was nearly a third empty. “I don’t think we really did anything different,” Newberry said. “I think Big Sky was turning in the right direction and we’re a little bit less expensive than the Meadow, which a lot of small businesses need when they’re just starting out.”

Newest to the Big Horn Center are Carlye Luft’s naturopathic clinic Mountain Restorative Health; Lindsey Anderson’s practice Summit Physical Therapy and Wellness; and ceramicist Jill Zeidler, who recently transitioned from a home-based studio to a working retail space.

“It’s fun to be in this building,” said Anderson, whose spacious physical therapy loft is just down the hall from the Turners’ photography gallery. “A lot of us are very different; some of us are complimentary but everyone is so supportive. It’s like a little family down here.”

The family vibe was reinforced when Big Horn proprietors hosted a well-attended holiday open house on Dec. 2.

Luft celebrated the official opening of Mountain Restorative Health with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the event.

People lingered over an abundance of snacks and beverages long after the official end of the Big Horn Center holiday open house event on Dec. 2.  PHOTOGRAPH BY SARAH GIANELLI

People lingered over an abundance of snacks and beverages long after the official end of the Big Horn Center holiday open house event on Dec. 2. PHOTOGRAPH BY SARAH GIANELLI

“I’m very optimistic about opening my business here,” Luft said. “Every tenant was very warm and welcoming when I moved here. There’s a great camaraderie—even more so after the party. I’m really fortunate and grateful to be a part of it.”

The new businesses have joined the Bugaboo Café—which re-opened after closing briefly in August and gets universal credit for drawing a steady stream of people to the building—and other long-standing Big Horn businesses like Jaci Clack’s Mountain Haven hair salon; Misty Castle’s Easy Pieces alterations and hand-crafted designs; and Consignment Cabin.

Perhaps slightly under the radar at Big Horn are also Kuhl Tattoo, Big Sky Community Food Bank, Lone Peak Caregivers, Veterinary Clinic of Big Sky, an English as a Second Language tutor and SkyLab Media House, which provides a recording studio, video production and event technology services.

“We hosted the open house to remind people we’re down here,” Angi said. “It’s a huge help to have these destination businesses—Carlye, the vet, the salon—people come to them on purpose. There are a lot of successful professionals here now and their clientele keeps things humming … And it’s really great to have Bugaboo open again. When the traffic is flowing in the restaurant it’s really great for us retail businesses.”