Downtown Missoula: Loose Moose moves into Bird’s Nest

Mayo Osawa, owner of the Loose Moose, at the vintage shop’s new location on Higgins Avenue where the Bird’s Nest used to be, giving the old store a new look with a familiar feel. (Dave Stalling/Missoula Current)

Although a tail-wagging golden retriever named Glory no longer eagerly greets patrons at the door, an old downtown Missoula store retains a familiar feel, albeit a new look and name, after the Loose Moose moved into the Bird’s Nest Books and Things last week.

Although the Bird’s Nest has closed shop, Loose Moose will continue to sell used, rare and vintage books from the same location at 219 N. Higgins Ave.

“We got this location about three months ago,” said Mayo Osawa, owner of the Loose Moose. “We’re still carrying out-of-print books, but also have vinyl, vintage apparel and all the other items we’ve carried for years at the Loose Moose.” 

Loose Moose, a thrift and vintage shop at 137 E. Main St., has been in business for 23 years. Originally located on the corner of Main and Ryman, the shop moved two blocks east on Main in January 2014, after heavy, accumulated, frozen water broke through the ceiling and flooded the original shop. 

They’re still open on Main, as well as their new location, and may keep two stores running. 

“We don’t know yet,” Osawa said. 

The Bird’s Nest had become vintage in its own right. 

Opened in 1973, it moved to its Higgins Avenue location in 1986.  Owner Jolie Anderson said the business was started by her mother-in-law Betty. At the time, Anderson and her husband ran an adjacent second-hand store but merged their business with Betty’s. After her husband and mother-in-law passed on, Anderson continued to run the store. 

As anyone who has been to the Bird’s Nest over the past several decades can attest, the place had the fun and feel of rummaging through an old attic. Thousands of books lined the shelves and were stacked here and there, mostly in organized piles. 

It’s got a cleaner, less disheveled look to it now.

“We cleaned the place top to bottom, and reorganized,” Osawa said, but most of the books are still there. Anderson kept the more collectable volumes, as she plans to continue selling books online.

In addition to shelves of mystery, literature, classics, cookbooks, history, poetry, nature, outdoors and other fiction and nonfiction books, the Loose Moose has also made room for old hats, shirts, shoes, pants, packs, games, art, jewelry and other vintage knick knacks. 

“We love this building, and love the old books and the history,” Osawa said. “We’re excited to be here.”

“We might even get a dog,” she added.