Sew Steamboat creates new ownership model to keep social hub running smoothly
November 15, 2013
Steamboat Springs — When Sew Steamboat on Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat Springs lost one partner to an illness in the family and the other received a job offer that was too good to pass up, the store that serves as a social hub for all types of people who enjoy creating art with their hands was in jeopardy of closing its doors.
People interested in the future of the shop were asking Lori Bourgeois — who closed Cellar Liquor with her partner, Stephanie Reineke, in December and also teaches classes at Sew Steamboat — if she would take it over.
Instead, the perfect idea came to her when she woke up one August morning.
"What if a bunch of us did this together?" Bourgeois said she thought.
From 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, Sew Steamboat will host an event highlighting its new ownership model.
There now are 10 partners who will own, manage and run the business. All the partners have equal stakes with eight fully vested and two working toward that goal.
The new structure came together quickly, according to Mariana Ishida, who was one of the original co-owners and now is a partner.
Between mid-August and mid-September, she said, the concept went from an idea to secured commitments.
There was an existing limited liability company that owned the store, Ishida said, and after consulting with a lawyer, it made the most sense to simply expand the partnership agreement. It now governs how partners can exit, new ones can buy in and what the expectations are for partners.
Bourgeois said the structure is set up to give Sew Steamboat longevity.
"As the store continues and original partners got tired, new partners could come in," she said.
The intent also is to move toward all operations being handled by the partners, though that's still about a month away, Bourgeois said.
Partners are expected to sign up for shifts working the floor in addition to duties on committees formed to handle specific areas of operation.
"We're getting pretty efficient," Laurie Manning said.
"Everyone is really enthusiastic," Bourgeois said. "They own the store."
A lot of work went into creating and finalizing the new model, Ishida said, but it came together nicely.
Now, with greater numbers, the partners are creating new plans for the future.
A consignment gallery for fiber arts is planned for the second floor of the store.
"We see a lot of really fabulous creations," Ishida said. "Why not showcase it?"
There's a demographic of shoppers looking for locally produced and handmade items, she said, and the gallery will jury items, then provide them for sale on a consignment basis.
Sew Steamboat also has plans to expand its online presence, according to the partners, and always is looking for potential new classes or crafts.
Getting more involved with the community also is a priority, Ishida said.
The Sit & Stitch group that meets Friday afternoons is an example of something that has connected the shop more closely with the community, according to Bourgeois.
The partners also want to get a younger demographic involved with the store and reach out to the Steamboat Springs Teen Council.
All the different crafts and disciplines that Sew Steamboat supports provide not only a valuable product, but also entertainment through the process, Bourgeois said.
The store is a social place, Ishida said, and it's show-and-tell all the time as customers regularly stop by with finished projects.
"Our customers are so nice," she said. "They're happy when they come in."
"It's really a place people want to come to," Manning said.