Businesses snatching up storefronts in downtown Glenwood Springs | VailDaily.com

Businesses snatching up storefronts in downtown Glenwood Springs

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
John Gardner/ Post IndependentPassion for Picnics owner Heather Finley stands near a display of specialty backpacks at her new location on Grand Avenue. Finley recently moved her shop from the Glenwood Meadows shopping center to downtown Glenwood Springs
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Heather Finley has found a new home for her Glenwood Springs business, Passion for Picnics.

After spending the past two years on Market Street at the Glenwood Meadows Shopping Center, Finley recently moved to a cozy location on Grand Avenue. She was able to move her entire store in one weekend and opened for business on June 1.

“It just took us a few days,” she said. “We were going pretty quickly and didn’t want to miss out on any weekends this summer.”

Finley said that high tourism traffic was the main attraction to the downtown core. She’s created a local following at her Meadows location but wanted to expand further into the downtown tourism market.

“I felt like I needed a place where I could have both the local market and the tourists,” she said.

And there were plenty of vacant spaces to accommodate her needs.

Downtown Glenwood Springs has seen a resurgence as several of the vacant stores have recently found new occupants.

Finley actually moved into the space vacated by Annie K’s, which was a short-lived specialty gift shop. Annie K’s came in after longtime Glenwood resident and owner of the Mountain Peddler, Joan Chaffin, closed down her shop in 2008. At the time when the Mountain Peddler closed up shop there were about a dozen vacancies in downtown Glenwood Springs, leaving the doors wide open for entrepreneurs who wanted, or needed, to move to a prime location. But they weren’t filling up very quickly.

This recent spike in interest has Main Street Gallery manager Nancy Page excited about the future of the downtown.

“I’m always optimistic for downtown because I think it’s a vibrant and exciting place for businesses,” Page said.

Page, who is also the president of the board of directors for the newly formed Downtown Partnership, added that business turnover happens. While she doesn’t like to see other businesses go under, it’s nice to see others open up rather than the buildings being empty, even if they are established businesses moving from other areas of town.

“I think that these businesses are finding that they are a better fit for downtown,” Page said.

Downtown Partnership program coordinator Tom Flemming said, “I think what we are seeing is the old ‘silver lining’ adage.”

Flemming said that while over the past year there were many vacant storefronts along Grand Avenue and other downtown areas, it’s unfortunate that a lot of old businesses have closed but that leaves rooms for new businesses.

Sheila Davis, owner of Personality Clothing and Accessories, moved her store to Grand Avenue in February from her location in the Hotel Colorado. Davis’ shop is next door to Passion for Picnics currently. She wasn’t getting a high number of tourists even at the hotel, and parking was an issue for her local customers, she said.

“This new location has just been 10 times better,” Davis said.

Davis said that it was her experience that visitors staying at the hotel still went downtown to shop and oftentimes would overlook her store. As well, she said that she had heard from local customers that they knew her store was at the hotel but didn’t want to cross the bridge when they were shopping downtown.

“It was a great place to start out. I did OK, but the tourists had their minds set on going to the [Hot Springs] pool or downtown,” Davis said. “A lot of people knew I was there, they just weren’t making it to the store, and now they are making it here.”

Finley agreed saying that while the Meadows location has great local support, the tourist traffic was limited. And even though, at least for Davis, the rents are higher for her space on Grand Avenue than she was paying at the Hotel Colorado, the increased cost is worth the increased traffic.

The building where Davis’ shop is located, at 823 Grand Ave., underwent an intensive remodel and has been vacant for about three years. Similarly, the Grand Avenue Mall also sat vacant for more than three years after a fire gutted the structure in spring 2006.

Carbondale-based structural engineer Israel Shapira recently purchased the Grand Avenue Mall for an undisclosed price and is currently renovating the structure. He hopes to be leasing properties in about a year.

Just a few doors down from the mall, Chuck Campagna has moved his insurance business out of the basement office to the ground floor for better exposure.

Campagna purchased the building at 818 Grand Ave. about two years ago, he said. Since then there have been two clothing stores in the space, the most recent of which, Pinque, has moved to Glenwood Meadows Shopping Center, and also has another location in Grand Junction.

With a number of the spaces filling up with businesses, Campagna thought it may be a good time to move his business to the ground level as well.

“We decided, as we partnered with Allstate [insurance] that it would be a great opportunity for us to get out on Grand Avenue,” Campagna said. “It’s nice to see the downtown come alive. We are excited to see it happen and to be a part of it.”

A few doors down at 824 Grand Ave., which was the Top Drawer Office Supply store for years until it closed in 2008 and sat vacant for more than a year, there’s a new tenant as well. The Glenwood Springs Design Center will house two companies, Duir Designs and HMC Marble and Granite.

Finley said that all the new businesses and being part of the downtown is a great, and fun, thing.

“I’m seeing some positive changes since I’ve been here in the past week and a half,” she said. “It’s fun to actually be a part of downtown that is so proactive in promoting downtown.”

jgardner@postindependent.com


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