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Chamber, local businesses report busy summer across the board

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Real estate market sees jump in 3rd quarter

By Sarah Gianelli EBS Associate Editor

BIG SKY – According to the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce, Big Sky saw increased visitation numbers during summer 2017.

The chamber reported that Montana Lodging Tax revenue for April, May and June was up 12 percent for the quarter from last year. The chamber has hosted more than 20 new business ribbon cutting ceremonies since the start of this year, with several new businesses joining the Big Sky community this summer, including SAV Digital Environments, Energy 1, Mountain Pearl Dentistry, Compass Café by Sola and Bobcat Mattress.

“Visitation to Big Sky this summer continued its rise,” said Candace Carr Strauss, Big Sky Chamber of Commerce CEO. “And in my opinion … the sky is the limit.”

The chamber credits community events, and Big Sky PBR specifically, with drawing increasing numbers of visitors to Big Sky. The Pro Bull Riders event, a production of Outlaw Partners (publisher of EBS), had an estimated attendance of 15,000 people over the course of the four days in July.

An economic impact analysis prepared by Circle Analytics calculated the economic impact of the 2017 PBR event to be $2.6 million, approximately $1.5 million of which was retained within the county, the analysis said.

The Arts Council of Big Sky’s Thursday night Music in the Mountains concert series reached an attendance of 32,000 people over the entire summer, while the weekly Big Sky Farmer’s Market had a summer attendance estimated at 12,200 people.

Big Sky Resort was also bustling more than summers past.

“Mountain Village was far busier this year than it has been in past years,” said Chelsi Moy, Big Sky Resort public relations manager. “There were just noticeably more people around.”

Moy noted an 80-percent increase in the number of bike haul passes sold this year. She added that event attendance was up across the board for Vine & Dine, Brewfest, Total Archery Challenge and The Rut, one of the biggest events the resort puts on annually. This year, The Rut was expanded to accommodate 500 additional racers bringing the total number of participants to 2,500.

Moy said that Lone Peak Expedition trips to the summit of Lone Mountain were up in volume, with the eclipse-viewing opportunities adding an extra boost to August tours.

Grizzly Outfitters Ski & Backcountry Sports lead bike technician Joe Muggli said he saw increased bike business at the shop this summer. Muggli, who just finished his third summer season at Grizzly Outfitters, said more people are coming to Big Sky specifically to ride the resort’s bike park.

“There is a lot more weekend warrior traffic and people coming through to ride Big Sky Resort,” said Muggli, adding that Grizzly brought in a whole new fleet of bikes this season to handle the lift-haul riding. He added that maintenance business was particularly consistent due to the wear and tear that downhill riding can have on bikes.

“Being the only shop that can fix things on the fly, so people could get back out there and continue to enjoy their weekend, kept us busy,” Muggli said.

The Big Sky Country Montana Listing Service (MLS) third quarter market numbers for July, August and September show $71 million in total sales volume in the Big Sky area.

Carrie Radtke, a broker at Big Sky Sotheby’s International Realty, attributes these figures to a good economy, and that Big Sky is squarely on the map as a tourist destination.

“I think the secret’s out that Big Sky is good place to live, play, work—and own real estate,” Radtke said.

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