[July 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage]
By Kathryn R. Burke
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Today, the trip is measured in minutes, not days, but most out-of-towners still come here for the basics: groceries, doctor and dental appointments, building and garden supplies, and financial services.
Montrose is a hub, not a tourist destination. We are a central supply point for surrounding communities. We buy our necessities here.
Why not have fun buying what you need? Make necessity shopping a creative shopping experience, and see if you can’t find what you need in our locally-owned stores. Parking is easy. You can walk a little, not a lot, so you still get some exercise. You don’t need a cart. Owners and employees are happy to help you carry your purchases to your vehicle.
Shopping with local businesses is a personal and rewarding experience. The folks who help you remember your name and often visit with you about family, community activities, or upcoming events, and can make really good suggestions. “Isn’t your niece getting married soon? I seem to remember she collects little bears …” And there’s your idea for the perfect gift. There’s an adorable stuffed blue bear at Creative Corner, which also has (had—I bought them) the cutest little teddy bear earrings made of paper for just $7. And you thought shopping downtown means spending ‘too much’ money? Bargains are there; you just have to look for them.
Business owners are shoppers, too. Our office is in the Art Center, across from Park Avenue Hardware. (If you haven’t visited yet, please do!) It’s an easy walk from there down to the corner of Main and Townsend. We like to stop for a book browse at Maggie’s (which carries our books), then a coffee stop at The Vine or across the street at Daily Bread (which is half a block from where I get my nails done, at Angela’s Acrylics). She’s just around the corner from the Post Office where I, and many other business owners, get our mail. Which means, as it does in the smaller tourist towns, a chance to visit with other business owners and catch up on the latest town gossip. Montrose is still a small town at heart; news travels faster on the Post Office steps than it does in newsprint or on your phone’s local news channel.
“Business owners are shoppers, too.”
So, shopkeeper or shopper, resident or visitor, next time you need something, or just need a recreational shopping experience (see article… in our spring issue), why not give the box stores a pass, shop local, support local, and discover all the wonderful things we have right here in our own downtown. You’ll be surprised at what you find. Creative Corners is like a gift box full of wonderful treasures you just can’t wait to unwrap. Alpine Floral carries truffles! Fabula has so many fabulous things you could spend all day poking around in there.
Many of our stores participate in various downtown group-marketing endeavors, including sidewalk sales. Tiffany’s hosts a girlfriends’ day on Staturdays. (Ask Glee for details.) SheShe’s invitational Girlfriends’ Night includes adult beverages. (Contact Kimberlee about hosting one for friends.) SheShe also has trunk showings and special events. (See her ad this page for details.) Debbie at D’ Medici and Sonja at Fabula participate in holiday shows, supporting charitable organizations including Altrusa (in Montrose and Delta), Montrose Woman’s Club, and the Ouray County Library.
See what we mean? Montrose is a hub for surrounding communities!.
We’ve got something for everyone downtown, to dress or decorate your person or your home, gifts for every occasion (or no occasion). Next time you’re headed out for some necessity or creative shopping, consider doing it downtown. Stop by and say, “Hi!” We’ll look forward to seeing you there.