Making it in Big Sky: The Country Market
By Sarah Gianelli EBS Senior Editor
BIG SKY – Located in the Meadow Village, The Country Market first opened in 1974, with Stephen and Lynne Anderson taking ownership 17 years ago. The Anderson’s goal has always been to be the community’s grocery store—not a specialty food store, but a place that can meet the needs and budgets of residents and tourists alike.
Co-owner Lynne Anderson spoke with EBS and shared her thoughts on what it takes to make it as a small business owner in Big Sky.
Explore Big Sky: What has been the key to your success?
Lynne Anderson: Never say die. I am German, and quit isn’t in my vocabulary. In addition to the business aspects of the grocery, though, I believe relationships are key to its success. We genuinely care about each person who walks through the door.
EBS: What are the biggest obstacles to operating a small business in Big Sky?
L.A.:Seasonality affects cash flow, for sure, while our remote location dictates the necessity of higher-than-expected price points. When you are a large business, like Costco or Walmart, you can rely on volume. Our environment does not afford that advantage.
EBS: How has the business landscape changed since you started out?
L.A.: It has expanded as Big Sky’s exposure has expanded. The expected selections and quality of service anticipated by our residents and guests has grown to be more diverse and sophisticated.
EBS: What advice would you give to small business owners just starting out in Big Sky?
L.A.: Plan to work your fingers to the bone—but never forget to look up and love where you live.
EBS: What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve received?
L.A.: Do your homework. Don’t ignore due diligence. Pay attention to detail. Treat people with dignity and respect—all people.
EBS: What does your business look like in 10 years?
L.A.: Hopefully not much different—taking care of the needs and wants of the community for every demographic. My goal has never changed. I always wanted to be Big Sky’s local grocer. However, I am always interested in doing it better.
EBS: What is one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had as a resident or business owner in Big Sky?
L.A.: As a resident, being part of a community that comes together to help its members in time of hardship or great need. I have not experienced such a giving community elsewhere.
As a business owner, receiving the Business Person of the Year Award from the Chamber of Commerce, only slightly above a thank you note with a hand drawn picture of a steaming cup of coffee from a “lifty” thanking us for providing him with free coffee for the season.
Having young people come into the store to say hello to Grandma Cookie and leaving with their free cookie.
EBS: Do you remember your first customer or first sale?
L.A.: No, but it was probably a cup of coffee—and probably free.
EBS: What was a business idea that didn’t work?
L.A.: I think the one that cost dearly was putting in a fresh fish bar shortly after buying the business. I was assured everyone would love to have fresh fish in Big Sky—definitely before its time.
EBS: Where do you see Big Sky in 20 years?
L.A.: Hopefully, Big Sky will be a fully developed community where all segments of the population can live, work and play in an environment of mutual value and respect.
EBS: Would you do it all over again?
L.A.: A thousand times, yes. Buyer’s remorse never set in. We have had too many wonderful experiences in Big Sky and because of Big Sky. Memories abound.
Country Market– by the numbers
Staff: Seven full-time, six part-time
Years in business: 17 years
Longest serving employee: Chris Martin, five and a half years