Grand opening: Mercantile adds 200 jobs in downtown Missoula

Andy Holloran of HomeBased Partners joins Implement Productions and Montana-based filmmakers Phillip Baribeau and Wes Overvold after several showings of The Merc film. (Renata Birkenbuel/Missoula Current)

The $30 million Mercantile building in the heart of downtown Missoula employs about 215 people among its nine new retail shops and Marriott Hotel, the Residence Inn.

It held its grand opening on Tuesday night, celebrating the new downtown additions.

“At the hotel itself, we have almost 60 full-time jobs,” said Andy Holloran of HomeBased Partners, Mercantile owner and developer, at the building’s grand opening celebration Tuesday night. “Within the nine businesses, combined with four restaurants, a couple of retailers and stores, they have about 200 full-time employees.”

Linda McCarthy, Downtown Missoula Partnership director, said the creation of jobs in the new building and the attraction of shoppers and diners is merely part of the equation.

“It’s a lot of new customers for downtown,” said McCarthy. “I think occupancy of the new hotel has been really good since it opened in early March. But it’s also taxes going to city, county and school districts.”

She noted that HomeBased Partners will pay $500,000 a year in taxes. The price of lunches and dinners are comparable to other restaurants in Missoula, she added. 

Maggie Hammond, who manages The Montana Scene clothing shop, right, interacts with people attending the grand opening. (Renata Birkenbuel/Missoula Current)

Celebrants packed into several showings of “The Merc,” a professionally produced 9-minute Implement Productions film describing the history of Missoula and the role the former historic Mercantile – previously in the same block at 125 N. Pattee St. – played in the city’s growth.  

Montana-based filmmakers Phillip Baribeau and Wes Overvold of Implement Productions were on hand to answer audience questions as visitors roamed in and out of the 130-capacity meeting room located near the Marriott Hotel lobby. 

Three other businesses – The Montana Scene, Olive + Iron, and Skin Chic – relocated from other downtown spots or expanded into the new Mercantile.

“Not only are these new jobs, but they’re bringing in new business,” said Grant Kier, executive director of the Missoula Economic Partnership. He was among several hundred local residents who attended the grand opening. 

Morgan Thorp, assistant manager of The Montana Scene, waited on an endless stream of customers buying the shop’s original Montanan-themed T-shirts, coffee mugs and other souvenir items.

“We really like this location,” said Thorp.

Maggie Hammond, The Montana Scene manager, worked a table in The Mews, the wide hallway separating businesses and sporting repurposed wood and ceilings from the old building, plus a variety of era-appropriate artwork. 

“It’s been absolutely fantastic,” said Hammond, who oversees a staff of three employees. We love being part of the Merc. It’s phenomenal for us.”

A list of stores and restaurants include:

Restaurants: Basal, a breakfast, lunch and dinner spot; 1889, a steak house and bar; The Camino, a Mexican restaurant; and Zoo Thai, which offers Bangkok-style street food.

Stores: Olive + Iron, a men’s and women’s clothing shop; Skin Chic, a woman-owned skin care, makeup and esthetic services shop; Create Art Bar, a do-it-yourself crafting bar that includes cocktails, wine and bear for creators; Sobba Cycle, a beat-based cycling workout room; and the Montana Scene. 

Contact Business Reporter Renata Birkenbuel at renatab@missoulacurrent.com and 406-565-0013.