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The Banyan Tree set to close; owners will focus on Yellowstone Olive Company

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Posted at 12:04 AM, Apr 25, 2024

The Banyan Tree is closing in Billings and it's not just a store that's going to disappear.

The owner recently discussed a bond with the customers and how important it is to the community.

“So many relationships with people throughout the Billings community,” said Jana Pennington, who owns the store that opened in 2015.

She has enjoyed the connection with the customers who have chosen The Banyan Tree as the best boutique for the last nine years and the best gift store for the last three in a Billings Gazette survey.

But after the COVID closures, sales have decreased.

“Having to shut down, that maybe some of our customers’ buying habits changed because they had to look elsewhere,” Pennington said. “And maybe the ease of online shopping changed that for our store.”

According to the National Retail Federation, online retail sales increased 2.48 percent in March and almost 15.47 percent compared to a year ago.

Being a small business, Pennington has struggled to get the Banyan Tree online and also has not been able to provide health insurance, which are two of the challenges she's faced as an owner.

She says the idea was to have a family-oriented store.

And during the liquidation sale, customers say it has been a place for them to find gifts for their celebrations.

“Usually that's what brings me in here,” said Cindy Sparr. “I'm looking for gifts and then I usually find a shirt or something else that I like for myself.”

“Bridal shower, a baby shower, anything of that sort,” Adina Womble said about buying for special occasions. “Mother's Day.”

Pennington says the Banyan Tree has been able to help nonprofits with fundraisers and customers agree with her about the importance of supporting small businesses.

“It's actually one of the most important things we can do as a community is to support local businesses,” said Stephanie Thurman.  “Especially like I said, run by women.”

The Penningtons are successful in business and also own the Yellowstone Olive Company next door to the Banyan Tree.

“Maybe not as much competition online for that business,” Pennington said.

She says that the store's products are unique and that people may prefer to shop for this type of food item in person rather on shopping online.

Yellowstone Olive will eventually move to West Park Promenade.

“I'm grateful that we have Yellowstone Olive,” Pennington said about being able to still have a bond with customers.

She says about one-third of the inventory has been liquidated.

“No regrets for having the store,” Pennington said. “Sad to see it go."

The liquidation sale started on April 1 and will go no longer than 90 days from that date.