Auction barns, local stores help each other
Rob Fraser with Miles City Livestock Commission is a self-proclaimed “big proponent” of local shopping.
“It’s mutually beneficial,” he said. Fraser said Tuesday, sale day, is the busiest day in town for many of Miles City’s businesses.
“You see a lot of businesses catering to pickups and trailers. And on the other hand auctions like ours need those other businesses. Our customers can get supplies they need, eat out, go to the doctor’s office, go see a lawyer.” Fraser said he appreciates the many local business operators in his town because the varied shopping opportunities help entice ranchers to do their cattle trading in Miles City instead of another auction barn.
Fraser emphasized the attitude of community that most ranchers and other small business owners share. “People in our trade area, ranchers primarily, understand the importance of having a viable retail community. Most of them make a real effort to buy their cars here, to get their hardware here. Whatever they can spend in Miles City they seem willing to do. He added the town’s location makes it ideal for a number of businesses, as they are the largest trade area between Billings and Dickinson.
The banking industry is strong in Miles City, as well as other service-oriented professionals that deal directly with agriculture like accounting firms.
Fraser said the oil boom has brought an economic boost to the town. Fuel, tires and other transportation-related items are in higher demand, and jobs are plentiful. Being on the edge of the boom is nice as it means they don’t have to deal with problems that can arise with huge unexpected population explosions.
Fraser said there is a noticeable difference in the shopping and business decisions of ranchers and other small business owners. “They want to put down roots.” People who plan to live and work in Miles City only as a stepping stone to another career opportunity don’t make the effort too buy locally, he said.
Miles City Livestock Commission employs about 20 people year round, and another 20 during the busy fall run.