When you live at high altitudes, you learn to prepare for frequent and unexpected changes in weather, and the Altitude Gallery lives up to its name through its survival of several unforeseen challenges since opening on Main Street in downtown Bozeman, Montana in 2006. Altitude Gallery owner Amy Kirkland has used her creative business sense to continue to sell unique art at a variety of price points despite major downtown construction, an economic recession, and the recent shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Offering an array of art from intricate handmade jewelry to bold, colorful, textured wall pieces made by independent artists primarily from Montana, shoppers can find something to fit their needs, whether it be a small gift or a large centerpiece for a room.
Kirkland started taking classes through the Montana Women’s Business Center (MTWBC), a program at Prospera, around ten years ago and has also led women’s owned business tours through the organization. Most recently, Kirkland participated in the Link Up Business Accelerator Program for Women Business Owners and Managing with a Coach Approach courses.
When the pandemic kept shoppers in their homes and out of storefronts, Kirkland knew it was time to look at how to take the business in a different direction, which was to bring art to her clients. Kirkland saw an increase in online purchases and started delivering art to customers. “During the shutdown, I was delivering because people were told not to leave their houses. It doesn’t mean you still can’t buy a little art. I thought, wait a minute, we could do this as a long-term plan,” said Kirkland. Kirkland looked to the MTWBC and applied for a loan through Prospera to purchase a delivery vehicle. She knew to call with this idea because “They are always there to help. They are there to give advice and they are so supportive of small, local businesses.”
When talking about her ability to make quick changes for business survival, Kirkland said, “I kind of plugged back into that mentality of do whatever you need to do right now and whatever makes this a better business, hold on to that.”