College football is just weeks away in Big Sky Country, with the FCS kicking off the season on September 3rd. The Cats will play the McNeese State Cowboys at Bobcat Stadium at 6 pm, while the Griz will host the Northwestern State Demons at 1 pm at Washington Grizzly Stadium. Tickets for both games are likely to sell out. It looks like the Gold Rush game in Bozeman already has, except for the end zone student section.

Jeff Gross, Getty Images
Jeff Gross, Getty Images
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Now is the time to get your gear.

Waiting to buy your team gear at the stadium is kind of like choosing to buy lunch at the airport. While you can certainly buy a tee shirt, jersey, or hat at the game... be prepared for sticker shock. In Bozeman or Missoula it seems like you can find team gear everywhere. In Billings, you've got fewer choices.

Montana Grizzlies
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Here are the best places to find Cat or Griz gear in Billings.

Everybody is watching their budget a little closer this year, with inflation cutting into discretionary spending. Smart shopping at local retailers can save you money on your team gear. I spent the afternoon comparison shopping at Billings area stores and here's what I found.

Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
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Universal Athletics

Next to Hobby Lobby at 24th and Central, Universal Athletics has a HUGE selection of Griz and Bobcat stuff. Like, an entire corner at the back of the store. Filled with dozens of selections of tee shirts, hoodies, hats, and more.

Photos by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
Photos by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
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I'm digging the various retro designs that are on store shelves this season.

Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
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Target

Your favorite place to shop for end-cap clearance items and home goods also has a small aisle dedicated to the Cats and Griz.

Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
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While Target's selection wasn't exactly huge, their prices seemed fair. They also carry a very limited selection of Billings high school team gear.

Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
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JC Penny

My next stop was Rimrock Mall and JC Penny. This was my mom's favorite back-to-school clothing store when I was a kid. Like many formerly glorious retailers, the chain has been struggling a bit in recent years.

Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
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After wandering around the store for 10 minutes, I finally found one sad-looking rack of Griz gear. I never did find any Bobcat stuff.

Photos by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
Photos by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
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Pro Image Sports

Also in Rimrock Mall is Pro Image Sports. They have a small assortment of Griz and Cats shirts. However, if you're looking for hard-to-find NFL team stuff, this is your place.

Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
Photo by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
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Scheels

Montana sports fans know that Scheels carries a ton of college and pro team merchandise. Their selection of Bobcat and Grizzly gear is fully stocked for the season.

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Photos by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
Photos by Michael Foth, Townsquare Media
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There are a number of really cool designs in the Cat/Griz section at Scheels that appear to be new for 2022, along with plenty of classic styles.

Kohls told me they don't carry any Montana college gear. Walmart (Laurel location) doesn't appear to have anything. Shipton's Big R West said they have a limited selection of the "Montana Roots" design that incorporates the UM or MSU branding. Cabela's never answered the phone. My top pics for best selection have to be Universal Athletics and Scheels.

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