New store coming to Lincoln
Urban Laundry will offer unique women's clothing
July 9, 2005
Urban Laundry hopes to open by mid-August in downtown Steamboat Springs. But if you’re thinking fistfuls of quarters, fabric softener and tattered back issues of People magazine, you’ve got the wrong picture.
The new retail shop at 821 Lincoln Ave. is being developed by sisters Anne Wolfe and Libby Robbins of Steamboat Springs. It will offer sophisticated clothing and accessories for “women who love to shop.”
The sisters balance each other’s skill sets — Robbins is savvy to the intricacies of balance sheets and Wolfe is the retailing pro.
“I’m a big fan of downtown Steamboat,” Wolfe said. “This is an international destination, and I think we have great stores. We just hope we can add to downtown Steamboat.”
Ironically, the space being occupied by Urban Laundry is the same storefront that for many years was home to The Dorothy Shop, once a landmark women’s clothing store on Steamboat’s main street. Most recently, it was occupied by The Homesteader kitchen shop, which moved one door east on Lincoln to gain additional space.
The boarded up storefront is noteworthy right now for a poster depicting a middle-aged man with a single eye in the middle of his face.
“Keep your eye on this space,” the poster reads. It’s not indicative of the business poised to open there.
“We just did that for fun,” Wolfe said. “When it’s done, the store will be beautiful.”
The interior is being remodeled this week with the help of designer Jan Cohen of Effe Designs, Wolfe said. She has created a tinted concrete countertop for the store, which also will feature custom ironwork and fixtures recycled from architectural salvage shops.
Wolfe said she learned everything about retailing working for Tod Allen across the street at Allen’s. She was there for seven years.
“Working for Tod was the best job I’ve ever had in my life,” Wolfe said. “Tod taught me everything about the business and when I made a mistake (like buying merchandise that no one would ever purchase) he just said, ‘You’ll know better next time.'”
However, as she contemplates opening her store, she is focused on a niche defined by her experiences of the past three years.
Wolfe worked as a buyer for an established boutique in San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood.
At Urban Laundry, she plans to tap into the connections she developed with small California designers who she knows are producing distinctive lines of clothing that can’t be found in department stores.
“We’ll be working very hard to find things that are new and different,” Wolfe said. “What I found in San Francisco is that there’s a world of mostly young women who are college graduates who don’t want to go to work in the corporate world.”
They are creating clothing and accessories within small collectives of designers where they can share overhead. And they are anything but flakes, Wolfe said.
Many have sophisticated business skills to back them up.
The clothing lines at Urban Laundry won’t be devoted entirely to small edgy designers, Wolfe promised.
She and Robbins will carry Eileen Fisher, whose garments can be found at Nordstroms, with slacks, for example, retailing at between $100 and $160.
They also will carry basics such as Jag jeans ($70 to $80).
Robbins has been an accountant for 20 years, and Wolfe said she knows enough about bookkeeping to know she would not have undertaken her own shop with out someone like Robbins to track the store’s financials.
“I’d do it, but only under great duress. I’d need help, or lessons. It’s just beautiful how it’s working out,” Wolfe said. “Libby and I have always been very close.
“I love retailing — it energizes me. I hope to be in the store every day. Libby’s going to be great at (working on the floor of the store), she just doesn’t know it yet.”
Urban Laundry’s plan definitely takes into account the many tourists who come to Steamboat for some destination shopping, and the growing number of vacation-home owners who are starting to spend greater portions of the year in Steamboat.
While she was researching architectural details for the new store, Cohen spotted some discarded appliances on an old farmstead near Wolcott she thought would add just the perfect touch.
What better display case for a women’s boutique called Urban Laundry than a set of old wringer washers?
You can leave your fabric softener at home when the store opens next month.