Nicole Magistro moved to the Vail Valley from the windy city of Chicago, with her then-fiance, Zach. Like many people, she decided to try the valley for a season. But it wasn’t until recently that Magistro decided she really wanted to stick around.
Five months ago, Magistro left her post with the town of Minturn, where she was the economic development director, and became co-owner of the Bookworm in Edwards. The career change has given Magistro a newfound connection with the community.
Caramie Schnell: Let’s start with your background, Nicole.
Nicole Magistro: I’ve lived here for almost three-and-a-half years. I lived in Chicago before that and I wrote full-time for various publications. I went to grad school at Northwestern and undergrad there, so I’d been in Chicago for about five years. My husband, then fiance, worked in the wine business there. He grew up in Colorado, lived in Evergreen his whole life. My parents also lived in Evergreen, that’s how we knew each other. Though I spent most of my childhood in Ohio.
He came to Chicago for me so when I was finally ready to go, he was like, ‘How about Colorado?’ I was like, ‘We love it here, we have great jobs, why do we want to move?’ He said, ‘Why don’t we just try it for a season?’
His parents have a place here; we crashed there. We lived here all summer, we hung out, we didn’t really work, we spent a lot of money and all the sudden we were like, we’ve either got to get jobs or move. My husband got a job right away, because being in the wine business there’s plenty of food and beverage jobs around. I was really scrambling to get a good job. I took a part-time job at the Bookworm and I was still writing, covering some things for 5280 and a few things for publications back in Chicago. My part-time job at the Bookworm quickly turned into full-time. I worked there for about a year, full-time, and two-thirds of the way through I picked up the contract for the Minturn Market. I started running the Market on the side, dealing with the vendors and the sponsors.
I got married that summer, July 2003, and when I got back the town of Minturn offered me a full-time job that mixed the event portion with some administrative things. I hemmed and hawed about it because I really didn’t want to do administrative things and I loved my job at the Bookworm. But the reality was there were two owners of the book store, and I didn’t have any room for advancement there. So I took the job at the town of Minturn.
CS: When did your job expand?
NM: Eventually when the new town manager was hired, shortly after, I had a new title – the economic development director. I never really liked the title, personally. Mostly what I did was events and community outreach and worked with the businesses to try to help, but one person is not going to fix the problems that Minturn has in terms of economic development. There’s coming on 50 years of resistance to economic development …
The Centennial, which I put together, all the 100-year anniversary events, was really, I felt, my most successful endeavor. There was no written history of the town of Minturn except for 352 pages of handwritten, blue ink, background and information from Bill Burnett. I just delved into the history. I put on a series of events that were mildly successful. For the birthday party we had over a hundred people show up and tell old stories and get their pictures taken. And we had the seniors do a quilt of all their favorite places and memories of Minturn and it’s hanging in the Town Hall today. Every day after that, when I walked by that quilt, I was like that is what I did all this hard work for.
I really feel like I was adopted into that community and I love it dearly. I still do ‘Live in Minturn!’ and I still go by the Senior Center and Harry’s Bump and Grind and say hello. And I love it that way. I grew up in a small town and I grew up with women like Darla and Debbie Gustafson all around me. I didn’t grow up in a wealthy place with people driving Hummers around. Minturn felt really comfortable to me.
CS: Let’s talk about the next chapter…
NM: So now I’m at the Bookworm. When I left the Bookworm in 2003, I knew that I wanted to own the store, but at that time, Kathy and Neda were very comfortable, they were not interested in selling. My husband loves it here, but I was still undecided about whether I really wanted to live here forever or at least long enough to make a dent. We had bought a condo in Eagle-Vail, we have a lot of friends, and a lot of family in Colorado. And I couldn’t really see myself living in Aspen, or Denver or Boulder, and I don’t think there are a lot of other options for young people in Colorado. I was like, what’s going to sustain me intellectually and financially? I was considering other business options. But Kathy had some things change in her life and we talked about it one afternoon. That was last September, it’s been a little over a year. When we got into the details, we were both really excited; she was ready to go onto her next career and I was ready to take on the store and take it to the next level. May 1st I took over her portion of the store. I have an amazing business partner, Neda Jansen; she’s one of the rock stars of the book industry, really …
This chapter of my life is very good; I feel like I have roots here, I feel more comfortable being a part of this community. I don’t feel so transient. Even in the five full months that I’ve owned the store, I feel like it’s a huge difference. And most young people don’t feel that way; I don’t feel like they feel as invested. You’ve got to have ownership, you can’t go to a job every day that you’re only doing for a pay check, or that you only mildly like, and feel invested. You can’t pay a $1,000 for rent and live in a crappy basement apartment and feel invested. You can’t live your life the way you want to if you’re not passionate about the place you live and work, I think.
CS: What’s your husband’s name?
NM: Zach Locke, he is an importer of French wine. His company is Old World Imports, and until recently he was the wine director at Eat! Drink! He’s scaled back from there, worked with Polly and Chris, dear friends, and now he’s stepping back and concentrating a little more on the importing side of things. The goal is in another year he’ll be doing his own thing full time. It’s a good career to have in your household. He was a chef before that, a pastry chef and then he switched over to the wine business after he went to Italy. He still makes great wedding cakes and great pastries. We enjoy cooking together, though mostly I get lessons and he supervises.
CS: When did you know he was the one?
NM: We were never interested in each other, ever. I never even thought of Zach like that. I thought he was younger than I am. As it turns out, he’s older than I am. My sophomore year in college, my family went on a quick summer trip up to British Columbia. He had just graduated from college and he was getting ready to go to Italy. I don’t really think it was love at first sight, because we knew what each other looked like. We were all having lunch together, having fish and chips, and he and I got in this conversation together and that was it, I couldn’t even think clearly after that. VT
Caramie Schnell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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