If you want a custom-made reclaimed wood “girdle” for your beer growler or a Missoula-manufactured fabric igloo-shaped shelter with room for an entire family, then Southgate Mall’s got you covered. And a new Big Dipper ice cream shop with indoor seating is slated to open next April nearby.
The mall has a handful of seasonal “pop-up” shops set up for the holiday shopping season, and Glo Domes and The Growler Girdle are just a couple of the unique locally owned vendors.
“For the holidays we have seven additional kiosks and carts for the holidays in addition to everything else we have,” said Christina Ashton, the specialty leasing manager at the mall.
They also have special vendors who have set up shop to allow people to check things out first-hand rather than just online.
Ryan Duarte and Chirag Patel co-founded Glo Domes, a Missoula company that manufactures portable geodesic dome structures that can be built with thick insulation and range up to 1,200 square feet inside.
“They’re manufactured here in Missoula,” Duarte said. “We just sold one yesterday as a full kit for a guy up in Whitefish who wants to use it as an Airbnb. He’s getting a deck and flooring and a fireplace and a big curtain and extra triple insulation. So these are for people who have Airbnbs already who want to increase their capacity.”
The company was featured on the cover of Airbnb Magazine recently, he said. Their sample Glo Dome at the mall has two full-size beds inside, including one in the “loft” space, as well as cabinetry, wood floors, a solar panel and wide clear plastic windows.
Big Dipper Ice Cream, a shop that’s popular on the Hip Strip, also has a building permit to create a new retail ice cream space in the Paxson Plaza across the parking lot from the mall, according to owner Charlie Beaton. The store will be located near the new Dram Shop location and is expected to open next April.
"We've been in business for 25 years and we've always thought about doing a second store in Missoula," Beaton said. "We're really limited in our downtown location. It doesn't have a lot of parking or indoor seating."
He said that because local downtown businesses like The Trailhead and The Dram Shop have opened second locations near the mall, he decided now is the time.
"It's going to be really nice," he said. "We're using the same designer we used for our Billings location. There's lots of development going on in central Missoula so it just seemed like a good opportunity."
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The Growler Girdle is a new company with a kiosk in the central plaza of Southgate Mall started by the Winegart family.
“They take a growler and then they wrap it with fine wood and a copper band on each one and then they do custom laser-etching,” Ashton explained.
Suzanne Winegart and her husband Eric and son Jacob have a new kiosk in the center of the mall to show off the girdles.
“We farm six months out of the year, and the other six months out of the year the boys do this,” Suzanne Winegart said. “We started with the wood from the outbuildings on our farm. We use reclaimed fir, reclaimed chestnut and old redwood lawn furniture. They try to make everything come from the United States.”
They also sell wine bottle “garters” and other custom wood products.
Yusuf Sahin is now in his fifth-year selling unique gifts at his Giftolog Custom Ornaments kiosk, where he will custom-etch a name or gift message onto any ornament.
“His handwriting is beautiful,” said Lauren Poppen, the marketing director at Southgate Mall. “I just got an ornament yesterday.”
There’s also the Custom Tee Shirt Station for people who want to make a piece of clothing that can’t be found anywhere else, or The Nature’s Berry Patch kiosk for gift-buyers looking for that Montana huckleberry flavor. Hickory Farms, See’s Candy and The Paddleheads baseball team all have shops for the holidays as well, Ashton said.
For the holidays, Santa will be available at the mall for photos daily until Dec. 24. On Sunday, Dec. 1 from 6-8 p.m., there will be a special event to cater to children with all spectrums of special needs, called Sensitive Santa. There will also be a Paws and Claus event for people who want to take photos with Santa and their pets on Nov. 24 and Dec. 8 from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m.
“We are as thrilled as ever to begin the holiday season, welcoming Santa Claus back to Southgate Mall to bring smiles and warmth to children and families in our area,” Poppen said. “There is something universally magical about visiting Santa, and we’re delighted so many families choose to experience this special holiday tradition with us.”