The retail scene in the 700 block of Lincoln Avenue is evolving rapidly this month with two new tenants moving into space in the Boggs Building that had been unoccupied for 20 months.
A regional outdoor clothing outlet store is moving in next to the Tap House, and a ski shop is opening a second Steamboat location in the Harbor Hotel.
The staff of Bucking Rainbow Outfitters was arranging store fixtures at 730 Lincoln Ave. on Thursday while opening for business on a limited basis. Owners John and Jarett Duty and their crew were able to move across the street from their old store, carrying merchandise by hand. The Duty brothers moved their Orvis fly-fishing and home accessories store from the 400 block of Lincoln to 729 Lincoln less than three years ago.
Delivery trucks already were unloading scores of boxes of new merchandise at Bucking Rainbow's previous location for a store that is new to Steamboat Springs, Great Outdoor Clothing Company. The store is part of a privately held 12-store chain that specializes in buying overstocked and discontinued major brand outdoor clothing. Owner Stephen Meyers also markets his own line of budget-priced gear called Black Ice in his retail stores.
Just up the street, longtime Steamboat ski shop owner John Kole is preparing to open his second location for the One Stop Ski Shop.
Kole's shop, in a rose-colored house just a block away on Yampa Street, has become known for its personal service. Kole said his plan is to reserve the Yampa Street store for rentals and custom boot fitting (he's known as Captain Comfort) and devote his new space in the Harbor Hotel to ski and boot sales. His staff is moving into the new store next to Braun's steakhouse, but it is not yet open for business.
Just over the horizon at the Boggs Building, Todd Savalox hopes to move his Images of Nature photography gallery before Thanksgiving. The gallery features the work of noted nature photogra-
pher Tom Mangelsen.
Jarett Duty said the decision he and his brother made to move their store for a second time in three years was based primarily on the opportunity to own instead of paying rent. He said the monthly mortgage payment is the same amount as the rent they were paying across the street. The new location affords an additional 1,400 square feet of space.
"We want to be here for 20 more years," Duty said. "The whole idea is that in 15 years, you own your building. It made total sense to us."
The 5,700-square-foot building sold for about $300 a square foot, establishing a new benchmark on Lincoln. Bucking Rainbow will occupy about 3,700 square feet, and the remaining 2,000 was organized as a separate condominium and sold to Savalox.
Duty said as soon as he closed on the building, he was offered more for it, and he's confident his investment will appreciate.
The new Bucking Rainbow store features 14-inch pine flooring, textured plastic walls, log accents and a stamped tin ceiling. Those are the glamorous aspects of the new space, but the Duty brothers are just as intent on some of the less glamorous features. Now, they have five dedicated customer parking spaces that are easily accessed from Seventh Street in the alley behind the store.
Many retail customers likely don't realize that a fishing guide service and whitewater rafting trips play a major role in Bucking Rainbow's success. A garage door off the alley allows Bucking Rainbow to store its boats and rafts on site. There also is a separate room where fishing guides can pick up rods and waders for their clients. The old location lacked any kind of storage -- the new building has a receiving room where boxes of new merchandise can be stored.
Savalox said he hopes to be open next door by Thanksgiving. He was consulting last week with Craig Seitz of Alpen Architek about the details of a new river rock gas fireplace being built in the front of his store. When complete, it will be framed by a pair of leather chairs and a coffee table. The idea is to help customers envision a large framed photograph in their own homes, Savalox said.
Savalox said the 2,000-square-foot gallery size has proven to be ideal for the Images of Nature chain. His gallery is one of just a couple of Mangelsen galleries that are independently owned.
A smaller space, such as the one he occupies now, crowds the framed photographs, resulting in lower sales per square foot, Savalox said. More space is just wasted, he said. Savalox formerly managed corporate retail stores for Vail at Beaver Creek.
The key to his business is getting people in the door so he can interact with them and explain Mangelsen's approach to photography and the quality of the prints and framing.
The gallery floorplan has been carefully designed to create separate viewing areas that encourage customers to explore and linger. The walls near the front of the gallery will feature the best 100 sellers among Mangelsen's 800 limited-edition prints. The idea is to give the images that turn over most often the best exposure. Expect to see prints called "Colors of the Smokies" and "September Showers" right near the fireplace at the front of the store.
Store manager Bronwyn Rittner said Great Outdoor Clothing owner Stephen Meyers has been scouting for a location in Steamboat for six years. His closest locations are in Breckenridge and Silverthorne.
The store in Silverthorne is in the factory outlet mall, not far from the Nike store. The new Steamboat store is an outlet store, in the sense that it will offer the same discounted prices on discontinued and overstocked merchandise from major manufacturers. However, Rittner said Meyers' focus is on developing locations within the historic downtowns of resort towns. Whereas the Silverthorne store lacks any kind of ambience, the new Steamboat store has vintage wood flooring and an exposed brick wall.
Rittner, who came here from Jackson, Wyo., where she managed the Great Outdoor Clothing store for four years, was a little overwhelmed with boxes last week. No sooner did UPS deliver 25 boxes of merchandise Thursday, than Federal Express showed up with between 40 and 60 boxes.
Rittner said she typically receives 25 boxes of merchandise a week, and the contents are always a surprise to her.
"You never know what we'll have," she said. "It changes weekly."
The constant churn of merchandise encourages customers to return often, Rittner said, and the key to offering discounted prices is high turnover, even in a high-rent district such as Lincoln Avenue.
"There's no reason why you can't offer good prices," she said.
The company is headquartered in Incline Village, Nev., near Lake Tahoe. Its first store opened in 1988. Today, it also offers Internet sales. Other stores are in Alaska, California, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
Rittner said her company's own Black Ice line of parkas competes in quality and price with the major brands it carries such as Columbia, Helly Hansen and Marker. She says the Black Ice garments feature quality construction, waterproof and breathable coatings, technical zippers and ample pockets in a line that tops out at $135 for a parka.
Great Outdoor Clothing will open as soon as Friday.