Steamboat Springs After months of planning by residents, Hayden's artists' cooperative is scheduled to open later this month, creating a year-round business opportunity for home-based artisans and craftspeople.
The Hayden Marketplace on Historic Walnut Street was officially organized Saturday with 20 charter members, to promote regional arts and handicrafts in a cooperative environment. Local artisans and craftspeople will sell everything, including fine art and dairy products made on their farms.
The Hayden Marketplace will join a gallery in Walden and the Artists' Gallery of Steamboat as the only artist cooperatives in Northwest Colorado, Nancy Kramer said. Kramer, coordinator of the Northwest Colorado Products program of the Community Agricultural Alliance, has been active in helping get the Hayden cooperative off the ground and will continue to be an adviser as it develops its initial marketing plan.
The Hayden Marketplace will provide a year-round business opportunity for local artisans, who are usually restricted to a few craft fairs that occur only once a year, Donna Hellyer said.
"It's an opportunity for people to show their wares who have no other venue," Hellyer said. Hellyer, the cooperative's self-described "cheerleader," hopes to add her sourdough to the Marketplace's offerings in the future.
The Hayden Marketplace plans to hold its soft opening Dec. 19, in time for some last-minute holiday shopping. The cooperative will spend the next few weeks completing some renovations at its property and readying it for customers.
The cooperative has leased a historic building on Walnut Street, next to the Thistle Dew Salon. The building dates to the 1880s and has served as a pool hall, church and gas company during its history.
Members of the cooperative have been brainstorming and planning since October, developing their business plan and ownership agreement.
Ultimately, the LLC framework - borrowed from the Artists' Gallery of Steamboat - was preferred because it's very "user-friendly," compared to corporation-type agreements, Kramer said. Under the LLC, all the members of the cooperative remain individual owners, and the membership is very flexible, allowing for guest artisans, she said.
Membership was designed to be affordable, because the Hayden Marketplace is designed specifically for artisans who cannot bear the cost of having their own storefront. Membership costs $100, plus $60 monthly for rent.
The cooperative's development has been supported by a number of organizations, including Yampa Valley SCORE, the Hayden Chamber of Commerce, and the Hayden Economic Development Council, which donated funds to cover three months of rent and early marketing costs.
The cooperative plays nicely into the Hayden business community's effort to draw "cultural tourists" to town and make it a destination, Kramer said, rather than having Hayden's visitors confined to the airport and the highway.
"The challenge is going to be getting people off the main drag and into the shop," she said.
Home-based artisans and crafters interested in joining the cooperative should call Ann Copeland at 276-3348 for more information.