Bozeman Business Boom: How the student dollar is changing your shopping experience in Bozeman

BOZEMAN- With Montana State University posting some of the highest enrollment numbers it’s seen in history just how much are MSU students changing your shopping experience?

According to an economic study done by Montana State University in 2011, the Bozeman campus is generating more than 9,000 jobs and almost three-quarters of a billion dollars in earnings.

Patty Bartholomew a retired elementary school teacher, she’s watched Bozeman grow.

“I’ve been here since 1985, so almost 30 years,” Bartholomew said.

Bartholomew and her husband are both teachers, she worked at a local elementary school and her husband worked at MSU.

Back when her kids were younger the selection was much different.

“We would pop over to Missoula and then onto Spokane and we would shop there for the kid’s school clothes,” Bartholomew said.

Not the case anymore, Bartholomew says stores like Costco and Lululemon have changed her shopping experience.

“What I need, I can get here,” Bartholomew said, “I don’t have to travel to go get those things.”

The vice president of Town and Country says the students are pushing his store across the street from MSU forward, they are caring more specialty items like sushi, different types of cheeses, and they’ve expanded their deli area.

Like other stores in the area Town and Country is working to keep up with the student's demands.

“They definitely have changed some of the items we carry and the things we focus on here,” Travis Frandsen the Vice President of Town and Country said, “they are a big impact in the whole valley let alone in our south side of town here.”

Frandsen says he sees the impact of the students. With around 16,000 students on campus, the students are changing what’s on the shelves.

“We just brought in some different Greek items based on demand from some of the groups at MSU that we’re looking for that type of food,” Frandsen said. “Back in the day Mac & Cheese, Ramen Noodles were popular, today it’s different they have higher expectations.”

Those higher expectations are bringing new products to the shelves for the people of Bozeman.

But one thing has stayed the same, Frandsen says his top-selling items start selling at around 9 o’clock, ice cream.

But for Bartholomew, the former teacher, and avid outdoorswoman the evolution of her city and the students from MSU have kept her here. She explains that Bozeman has become a fountain of youth.

“I always thought Missoula would be where I would want to end up,” Bartholomew said, “as I lived here and stayed I think Bozeman has so much to offer.”

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