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Several new businesses opening in downtown Steamboat this winter

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Jake Carson said he and his girlfriend, Tori Koski, plan to offer a changing variety of homemade soups, hot sandwiches, gourmet cheeses and meats and more when their 5th Street Market & Deli opens in a few weeks.

"We're switching it up every day," Carson said Thursday, standing amid the construction scene that is their market-in-progress downtown. "We wanted to do something different."

That mentality — switching it up, doing something different — applies again this winter to downtown Steamboat Springs, which in recent years has been a carousel of changing storefronts, openings and closings, turnover and new hope that's reflected the struggles and optimism of small-business owners during the economic recession.

Several new businesses will open in downtown Steamboat in coming weeks. In addition to the 5th Street Market, they include clothing store White Pepper, children's store Kookaburra Kidz and others in development.

One new business already is open — Linda Petet said Saturday was opening day for Goodie 2 Shoes, at 908 Lincoln Ave. Linda and Rick Petet also operate Steamboat Shoe Market, across the street at 907 Lincoln Ave. Linda Petet said Saturday that she was operating the shoe market while Rick Petet was running Goodie 2 Shoes, which offers different brands and accessories than the shoe market, at a variety of prices.

Linda Petet laughed at the prospect of hard work for the couple in coming weeks.

"You gotta do it around here," she said.

Debbie and Lane Anderson know that feeling well. The Andersons operate two stores, Awesome Shirtworks and 7th Street Boutique. Next month, they plan to open Kookaburra Kidz on the upper level of Old Town Square at Seventh and Lincoln.

Debbie Anderson pointed to the Kookaburra storefront Thursday, looking out a window while sitting at the cash register at 7th Street Boutique.

"We just wanted to fill a void," she said, explaining that she sees a need for a children's toy and clothing store for Steamboat families. "Hopefully, this will be a locals' store."

The children's clothing store Duck Duck Goose closed March 31 at 617 Lincoln Ave.

"Of course you're nervous, because the economic climate is what it is," Debbie Anderson said about the new venture.

The Andersons said they're planning a December opening for Kookaburra Kidz, which will offer toys and clothing for children from infancy through age 6 or 7. That age range could expand, they said.

"We need to revive this town a little bit, especially with all the businesses we've lost," Lane Anderson said.

Energy, enjoyment

Carson and Koski also are planning, loosely, a December opening for 5th Street Market & Deli.

"After Thanksgiving and before Christmas," Carson said.

The business is between Fourth and Fifth streets on Lincoln's south side and will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week, Carson said.

Koski is a Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club coach. Carson said he's lived in the area for about 15 years and worked in nearly as many local restaurants during that time. A Chicago native, Carson said some Windy City flair would make it into the market and deli's homemade foods, which in addition to lunch offerings will include light breakfasts and take-home dinners.

About two blocks away on Lincoln, Michigan transplant Mandy Leep is working toward a Dec. 1 soft opening for White Pepper, which she said will sell "his and her apparel" in unique styles at a range of prices. She cited premium denims as an example of what White Pepper will offer.

White Pepper is in the Alpen Glow development, with Lincoln Avenue frontage near Sixth Street. Boutique pet store Felix & Fido, a former Alpen Glow tenant, closed in October 2009.

Leep, 26, didn't hesitate for a nanosecond when asked why she thinks White Pepper will succeed in a location that's seen turnover.

"'Cause I'm confident," she said. "Hit the ground running and put everything you have into it and success will follow that."

Also scheduled to open downtown this winter is an Under Armour-branded retail store at 729 Lincoln Ave., the former home of Great Outdoor Clothing Co.

Tracy Barnett, of Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, a downtown promotion and advocacy group, said a Colorado crafts store could be coming to Old Town Square, as well.

She said the openings belie economic trends.

"There's not going to be a lot of stuff left vacant at this point, which I'm really excited about," Barnett said. "Talk about a bad economy."

Barnett said conversations with business owners reveal people who are "tired of being down" and learning to confront financial challenges in new ways.

"They're not just doing business as usual — they're being smarter," Barnett said. "I know people are buying inventory, maybe not just in the quantities they had before. … They are purchasing, but purchasing carefully."

In addition to ingenuity, owners of new businesses downtown share at least two other traits — energy and an appreciation of new challenges.

"Everything I've had to do doesn't feel like work," Leep said. "I've enjoyed every little task I've had to do for this."