Billings, Montana


Yellowstone Community Cooperative


12,000 square feet



Project Highlights

Energy Star® (rendering credit: Jim Collins)


Most people wouldn't look at a 1950's 12,000 SF automotive garage in downtown Billings and see the potential to convert it into a natural foods grocery store.  But, along with a client who was ready to expand to a larger space and move to the downtown core, that's just what High Plains Architects set out to do.


Prior to moving into its current location, Good Earth Market was located in what was previously the 10th Street Market.  A little hole-in-the-wall neighborhood store, Good Earth soon outgrew its space.  They surveyed their members to determine where they should relocate and received an overwhelming response: downtown!  Unsure whether the building could be converted into a local foods, organic market, Good Earth commissioned High Plains to do a feasibility study.  Years later, Good Earth Market continues to thrive in downtown Billings.


High Plains worked with the owner to prioritize measures in a first phase of work to stretch a very tight budget. Priorities included improvements to meet accessibility, egress, and energy codes for a new use, inserting new mechanical and electrical infrastructure, and creating a vibrant interior by exposing the existing structure and painting it in bold colors.

In order to cut costs, the design team was able to be creative and salvage some equipment and shelving from a recently closed grocery store in Billings Heights.  To say Good Earth Market was a labor of love is the ultimate understatement: from its inception, to the expansion to present day, countless volunteers and community members helped from construction to events.  Thankfully, it has been embraced by the community and its presence will only foster a more vibrant downtown for visitors and residents alike.


Good Earth Market includes a deli with a commercial kitchen, offices, and an open ‘loft’ mezzanine for future expansion, in addition to typical grocery store equipment. A second phase will include site improvements and an elevator to make the mezzanine level fully accessible. The refrigeration system was centralized so that its waste heat can be reclaimed for domestic hot water and the building's radiant floor system. Other “green” features include dual flush toilets and extensive salvaged materials and equipment.  For its efforts to be 'green,' Good Earth received Energy Star certification in 2010.

Additionally, Good Earth enjoys ample daylight, which is often uncommon for traditional grocery stores.  The light interacts with the cornucopia of colors which mimic an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, making it a space enjoyable to shop and to grab a bite to eat.
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