[July 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage]
Written by Kathryn R. Burke Photography by Debra Lueck
Shopping is fun in historic downtown Montrose.
SO, YOU’RE STUCK ON THE MALL MAMBO? Make a regular habit of the Big Box Bop & Shop. You do the Montrose, South End Shuffle, making the rounds of all the big-name (remotely owned) chain stores. Sure, it’s convenient, it’s expedient; a fast trip (not counting the time to walk through the parking lot to the store) to load up a shopping cart with stuff you need (and probably more that you don’t—and let’s not talk about trying to find your car afterward in a sea of look-alike vehicles).
Maybe there’s a better way. Before you do the half-mile walk around Home Depot looking for a garden gadget, can you find it at Park Avenue Hardware? For the perfect outfit to wear to your niece’s wedding in Denver, will you buy a dress at Penny’s and take a chance on seeing someone wearing the same dress? When you buy dishes at the Dollar Store, does that help a family with a loved one fighting cancer? It does if you buy them at Heirlooms for Hospice.
The Green Cupboard and Heirlooms for Hospice. Every purchase supports a charitable cause.
If you can, buy local and support local business owners. These are the people who have taken a big gamble to follow a dream (or maintain a family enterprise) by owning and operating a business here. They depend on you—someone who lives and works here or in a nearby community—to support them and, thereby consequently, Montrose, with your patronage.
You won’t find the CEO of Ross sitting on Montrose City Council. If your dog dies, do you get a sympathy card from the owner of Walmart? If there’s a church fundraiser for an ailing colleague at work, does the CEO of Target show up with potluck dish and a check?
It’s reciprocal. Local business people need us, but we need them, too. For a community to survive, to attract and hold people who support it, there has to be a vibrant downtown. This is especially true as new people move into our neighborhoods. Discussing Montrose’s inevitable growth and his decision to live and work here, David Dragoo, president of Colorado Outdoors, said, “Wouldn’t you like to help your community grow in positive ways?” (See story on page A-4.) Dragoo also made the reference to needing a “vibrant downtown,” and supporting it, noting, “We bought our bed at Tiffany’s.”
Downtown Montrose is a place where the stores are locally-owned and often stocked with locally-made items. Where residents (and visitors) enjoy taking a little time to shop and look around, seeing pretty things made by creative people, finding something ‘different’. And, hopefully, buying something, supporting the enterprise.
The Daily Bread. 346 E. Main St. Long-time favorite of locals for breakfast and lunch. Love their pastries!
Creative shopping—tourist towns, like Ouray, Ridgway, and Telluride, have mastered the concept. (And maintain it by refusing to allow an infiltration of chain stores.) For these municipalities, tourism has replaced mining, ranching, and railroads as an economic base. A major goal for these towns is to support themselves by providing a unique shopping experience for visitors. Sometimes it’s hand-crafted items. More often it’s location-themed items. Witness the plethora of tee-shirt shops in Silverton that sell shirts proclaiming, ‘I survived Black Bear’.
Have you ever seen someone wearing a shirt that says, ‘I survived Montrose’? (Now, there’s an idea for a creative, local entrepreneur.)
Once upon a time we ‘went to town’ by stage coach. Now, it’s more likely SUV. Quicker and a lot more fragrant than riding behind horses on a hot day…
Montrose is a whole different deal. We aren’t a tourist town. We are, and always have been, a supply point for the neighboring towns. Before tourism-based economies, these communities depended on mining, agriculture, and railroads for survival. In the pioneer days, before the railroad steamed into town, people relied on horse-drawn wagons to travel to Montrose to buy supplies and equipment not available closer to home. A ‘trip to town’ was a multi-day chore to gather supplies that must last for weeks, if not months.