As one would expect from a rural western state, Montana’s shopping scene revolves almost entirely around practical goods. Since recreation is such a huge part of most Montanans’ lives, you will find at least one outdoor gear shop in every town of size. They do a brisk trade with visitors who get inspired by the state’s incredible backcountry and decide to pick up new supplies for their next hike. Prices aren’t anything special, but you can expect a solid selection of brand names to choose from. Missoula has several excellent outfitters including Pipestone Mountaineering and The Trail Head.
Nearly all of Montana’s interesting shopping is found in the large cities, typically in their downtown districts. Historic storefronts often contain locally-made arts and crafts, home décor and other neat things you can take back and adorn your house with. Nearly everything is an independent boutique or stand-alone department stores like the Macy’s in downtown Missoula. You won’t find any flashy modern malls in Montana.
In the more western cities like Billings, Butte and Livingston, you will find a handful of stores catering to the local ranchers and cowboys. These western shops like Shipton’s Big R and Rand’s Custom Hats in downtown Billings are great places to pick up a new cowboy hat, boots or other western wear. Native American crafts are also popular in this part of America. Whitefish’s McGough and Company stocks a wide range of eclectic and interesting trinkets from local tribes.
Art is another common product featured in Montana towns. The little resort town of Whitefish alone has more than a dozen art galleries, many of which participate in the First Thursdays program that runs from July to October, when the downtown galleries stay open late for an open-house.