Welcome to our year-in-review blog post, a celebration of the milestones we've achieved at The Last Best Store in 2023 and a glimpse into our aspirations for 2024. As we reflect on a year filled with growth, community involvement, and significant achievements, we're reminded of the core values that drive us: supporting local Montana artists, creators, and non-profits, and providing our customers with an authentic Montana experience. Join us as we take a stroll down memory lane and share our excitement for what's to come.
Major Milestones in 2023
2023 started with a remarkable accomplishment - The Last Best Store was honored as the Made in Montana Retailer of the Year. This accolade, nominated by our vendors, is a testament to our commitment to promoting Montana-made products and the unique talents of local artisans.
Our journey in 2023 also marked a significant expansion, growing our network to include over 150 local Montana artists, creators, and small businesses. Each vendor brings a unique flavor to our store, offering an array of products that reflect the spirit and craftsmanship of Montana. This expansion not only diversified our product range but also strengthened the community of local creators we're proud to support.
Our dedication to community involvement led us to join the Montana Non-Profit Association, reinforcing our commitment to local causes. Through this collaboration, we successfully ran two fundraising campaigns; one for Wilderness Watch, dedicated to preserving Montana's natural beauty, and another for Missoula Pride, supporting the vibrant LGBTQ+ community. Our involvement extended beyond fundraising; we also donated shirts to volunteers at Arts Missoula for their Missoula on Main New Year's celebration, contributing to the cultural fabric of our city.
In 2023, our efforts culminated in donating over $3,800 back to these cherished local organizations. This financial support reflects our store's ethos of giving back to the community that has nurtured and inspired us.
Team Growth and Product Expansion
In a delightful turn of events, two of our cherished vendors, Matt and Arielle, transitioned from making and selling their goods in our store to becoming integral team members. Their journey from creators to collaborators reflects the close-knit community we foster at The Last Best Store. You can view Arielle's Dr. Smith Botanicals line and Presents of Mind Design goods here. Matt's Blue Flame Glass galaxy orbs and ornaments will be coming to the online store soon!
Our collaboration with Blue Peak Creative has led to a diverse array of Made in Montana Griz apparel. Showcasing local design and printing expertise, this Montana Grizzlies section has become a proud emblem of our local sports spirit, available both online and in-store.
2023 was also a year of redefining consignment standards. We're dedicated to creating a new paradigm of communication and credibility with our vendors. By paying out over $120,000 in consignment payments in 2023, we've not only supported the local economy but also established a model of trust and partnership that benefits all involved.
Looking Ahead to 2024
In 2024, our focus will shift towards assisting non-profits in building their merchandise catalogs. While we'll be selective in conducting our own fundraisers, our expertise in product decoration will be a resource for these organizations. This approach will empower them to create meaningful products, enhancing their fundraising capabilities and community impact.
Our vision for the coming year includes enhancing our position as the premier marketplace for Montana-made goods. We remain committed to elevating local creators, artists, and non-profits. Through innovation and adherence to our core values, we aim to nurture the cultural and economic landscape of Montana, ensuring our growth aligns with the community's needs.
We anticipate challenges in 2024 but are excited about the opportunities they bring. Whether it's expanding our digital presence, exploring new market trends, or adapting our business model, we are prepared to evolve and excel. We will continue to innovate while maintaining our commitment to the community, ensuring our actions resonate with the needs and aspirations of Montana's people.
Looking back at 2023, we're filled with gratitude for the achievements we've shared with our community, partners, and team members. It's been a year of significant growth, meaningful collaborations, and heartfelt contributions. As we look forward to 2024, we're excited about the possibilities that lie ahead.
As we continue to grow and support our vibrant Montana community, we invite you to be an active part of our journey. Visit our website to explore our unique Montana-made collections and see the impact of your support. We would love to hear your thoughts, so please consider leaving us a review – your feedback fuels our growth and innovation. Also, don't forget to follow us on our social media channels for the latest updates, exclusive offers, and a behind-the-scenes look at how we bring the spirit of Montana to you. Together, let's celebrate and elevate the talent and beauty of our local community.