I had the most pleasant experiences with some hard working small businesses this chaotic holiday week. We're busy. They're busy. Everybody is short-handed.

(NOTE: Nobody paid me to write this stuff...I just had a nice week and some great experiences in some of our local businesses. Wanted to give thanks where thanks were due. There was no free stuff involved or any of that nonsense.)

Perhaps this year it has been easier for me to slow down and enjoy my days. We're not traveling, the family has decided to get together but keep things WAY casual, and there's no air travel in my immediate future.

We all know that being a pleasant patron of any establishment is the best course of action, but this year it seems even more important. The last couple of years have, quite frankly, been a bitch for almost everyone.

Between politics, COVID-19, distance, and the normal daily grind...everyone is a little burnt. So in my own small way, I just wanted to say 'thank you' to a few local folks and businesses that have made my life much easier in the last week or so.

The Rhino in Belgrade: (11 West Main, Belgrade) I haven't been to many bars recently, that's for sure. However, my sister-in-law and I headed to The Rhino last weekend for a quick catch-up. No sooner had we walked up to the bar when a pleasant, yet forward gentlemen wanted to be our best friend. We hadn't even opened our mouth to order a drink yet.

I didn't catch her name but the bandana wearing bartender had an eagle eye and IMMEDIATELY (and politely) shooed the guy away. Not a huge deal but it sure was nice of her to just take care of it before we said a word. Plus, she made an delicious Moscow Mule and took excellent care of us for the next hour. We got exactly what we wanted...some girl time without being bothered. (If you know her, please extend my thanks.)

Faber's Bakery & Deli in Bozeman: (33 South Willson, Bozeman) This downtown bakery is bomb. Their baked goods and their sandwiches are all super good. I've had one of their sausage, egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches and one of their Ruebens. Both were top-notch.

Of course I waiting until the DAY BEFORE Thanksgiving to think about a shared dessert. I'm not much of a sweets person but my crew certainly requires dessert. They're also originally from New York state. So....black and white cookies! But I need 12 of them. I called Faber's this morning and they happily said they'd make a batch just for me. AND I could pick them up in about 30 minutes. THAT is customer service. Thanks, you guys.

Bozeman Running Company: (132 East Main, downtown Bozeman) This crew is always on point. I've never had an unpleasant experience there. They carry great brands and even if you're not a serious runner, they always treat you like a serious customer.

Even when they're busy (which they certainly were on Ladies' Night), they get you situated, fit and advised, and on your way. Not once have I questioned a purchase there. Their staff clearly lives the running lifestyle but they don't raise an eyebrow if you're simply in the market for comfortable shoes and not actually running marathons. Y'all are a class act.

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