The organic hustle behind Montana Supply
By Jana Bounds EBS Contributor
BIG SKY – For the owners of Montana Supply, it’s all about the Treasure State, community and sharing the best of Big Sky with visitors. Montana Supply is one of Town Center’s newest brick-and-mortar businesses.
The company found its initial footing seven years ago when owners Josh Tozier and Alaina Stinson started selling T-shirts sporting Tozier’s designs at the Big Sky Farmer’s Market. The high school sweethearts originally from Maine said the new store’s product line is about mountain lifestyle: products that can go from the trail to the town.
“It’s been organic with hustle behind it,” Stinson said referring to their concept evolution and business growth.
Big Sky Shirt Company evolved into High Country Goods in 2014. This spring, they closed the doors of High Country Goods to become Montana Supply. Tozier said they rebranded to give customers a more open mind about offered products.
“We have rebranded for the third and final time,” Stinson said with a smile.
Tozier-designed T-shirts now hang on the walls at Montana Supply, with its locally-sourced fixtures and reclaimed lumber from Montana barns. Other items for sale include topographic maps, leather journals, hiking boots, artwork and tree tents—shelters that are suspended from trees similarly to hammocks. Stinson even field-tested a tree tent in the Beartooth Mountains and said although some people view them as hipster, they are remarkably comfortable.
The freedom is what they love about their business. Although both admit they never foresaw owning a retail store, they never wanted to work in an office setting. Now, they’re virtually unlimited in the products they can offer, but they do have a tiered selection process: local first, followed by companies with give-back policies or benefit programs for environmental causes, and U.S.-made next.
The couple selects every item in the store.
“We both usually have to agree,” Tozier said while surveying the store to attempt to spot an item they disagreed on.
Montana Supply opened July 21 with a block party organized with neighboring businesses. They hope that kind of collaboration continues and plan on having monthly events.
The open design concept between Montana Supply, Compass Cafe and Big Sky Real Estate Co.—three businesses sharing the space at 25 Town Center Ave.—is meant to be a pre-adventure gathering place: a location to get acclimated to Big Sky and plan exploration.
“It’s amazing, open and airy. It’s nicely done,” Tricia Amadio, a visitor from St. James, New York, said.
Stinson said that as there is no wall between businesses, Montana Supply’s hours will always match those of Compass Cafe: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
“They are creative souls, good people and incredibly hard workers,” Tiffany Lach, owner of Compass Cafe said of the Montana Supply duo.
Adventure is what initially brought the couple here and their love for the outdoors led them to stay. Stinson was first a white water rafting guide on the Gallatin River before Tozier decided to meet her in Montana a year after she settled in Big Sky. Before the move, Tozier ran his own design company, but the business was heavy with web design and limited Tozier’s time to create his own designs for screen printing.
Now, he will be using that knowledge again, but doesn’t mind because the store gives him the opportunity to more fully use his skill set. E-commerce is the next step for the company followed by a Montana Supply catalog to “become a brand supported by other brands,” Tozier said.