Steamboat businesses open doors with optimism amid down economy
January 29, 2011
Steamboat Springs — Within steps of his new store's front door, Matt Robbins has a $15,000 wood carving of a mountain lion and $12 earrings with handmade, glass beads.
There's a room in the back with food products including honey spreads, cake mixes and flavored peanuts, not far from shelves of intricate, colorful glassware and pottery that sit along walls adorned with paintings of mountain landscapes. Variety is a defining feature of All Colorado, which had a soft opening the day after Christmas and opened full time earlier this month in Old Town Square, at Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat Springs.
One trait unifying the eclectic mix of goods is that nearly everything is handmade by someone in Colorado. Robbins said he's selling a lot of his inventory on consignment and much of what he offers is unique to his store, a setup that took quite a bit of effort and artisan-hunting.
"I've traveled the state back and forth four or five times, knocking on doors," Robbins said.
Robbins said he's lived in the Yampa Valley for about 10 years and spent much of that time as a carpenter, making furniture and working on homes. He said business dried up amid the struggles of the local construction industry.
"I just tried and tried and tried to find work … and finally took a chance on this," he said.
The store is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and from noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.
All Colorado isn't the only new business in Old Town Square, home to Backcountry Provisions, Steaming Bean Coffee Co. and Noodles & More Saigon Cafe, among others. A few doors down from Robbins is a bird of a different feather: the new location of Robin's Nest. Robin Lorenz, owner of the antique shop, recently moved the store there from its initial location in the Squire Building at Lincoln Avenue and Ninth Street.
"I needed to be somewhere easier for the tourists (to find)," Lorenz said.
She added that the new, larger space has allowed her to better display her array of items and even expand a bit to include new offerings such as small furniture and Native American jewelry.
On the upper level of Old Town Square is Biyazzi, which offers contemporary, boutique-style clothing for men and women.
Co-owner Alana Yankowitz said the store serves as an outlet for the Biyazzi store she and her mother own in Fort Collins. Everything in the Steamboat store, she said, likely will be marked down 30 to 40 percent from retail prices.
The store offers high-end clothing in casual to dress styles. Yankowitz said a pair of men's jeans — the store sells J Brand and 7 for all Mankind, for example — could typically cost $159 to $215, but might cost $110 at the Steamboat Biyazzi.
She said Old Town Square's variety has benefited her store.
"I think it's just a great mix of stores — we're right next to Backcountry, so that's really nice," Yankowitz said. "We get a lot of people who are just stopping by to get a bite to eat."
About one block west on Lincoln Avenue, Leon Rinck, of Steamboat Treasures & Tees — which also has a location in the Sheraton Steamboat Resort — wanted to clarify a point about another new store he manages, The Core, on Lincoln Avenue near Seventh Street.
"It's not an Under Armour store," he said, adding that the store sells several other brands.
But Under Armour apparel is very apparent in The Core, a new venture that Rinck said had a strong holiday season and early January.
"Things have quieted down the past couple of weeks, but that's pretty typical," Rinck said, reflecting sentiments expressed by several other downtown business operators this week.
Rinck said he expects business to pick up again in coming weeks, hopefully spurred by Winter Carnival, which is Feb. 2 to 6.
— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 970-871-4233 or e-mail mlawrence@SteamboatToday.com
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