Sometimes in business, it's better to be next door to the competition than across town.

After all, it's easier to monitor a competitor's offerings, discounts and displays when you can peer inside their windows while walking to work.

But perhaps the biggest advantage to locating near similar businesses is that you have a bigger pool of shoppers who might want the same type of merchandise - such as a blouse - and are willing to scour several stores for the best bargain, the most intriguing piece or that one must-have item.

That's one of the main reasons why Laura Prather moved her Rocky Mountain Cowgirl store from Old Colorado City to 125 ? N. Tejon St. in downtown Colorado Springs.

Rocky Mountain Cowgirl is a Western boutique for women, specializing in cowgirl boots, handmade leather crafts and jewelry. Prather deals primarily in Western wear, and there is little direct competition downtown.

But there are boutiques nearby - including Kirk and Hill next door - and that's just what Prather wanted.

"I was not near any other boutiques in Old Colorado City," Prather said, "and when you are out shopping, you want all the stores you are interested in to be together. You don't want to have to drive all around."

Prather, 43, co-owns the store with her mother and father, Cavin and Diane Harper. She started her business as Out West Gifts in 2009, selling Colorado-made jewelry and leather purses at art and crafts shows across the state. The traveling got tiresome, and people who arrived late to the shows didn't have time to shop.

So in 2012, Prather changed the name of her business, added cowgirl boots to her inventory and opened her boutique in Old Colorado City.

"We thought it would be fun to create an atmosphere where ladies can take their time and shop, and I love that I get to know my regular customers and where they come from," she said.

What wasn't fun, or economical, was moving her store, which she decided to do in October.

Prather closed her Old Colorado City shop in December. It took her two months to renovate the downtown building, relocate merchandise, clean, set up decorations and make other preparations.

She finally opened the new store on Sat. Feb. 22, about a week later than scheduled.

The Friday before, Prather was inside her new location with family members, readying the store for opening while still sniffling from the last effects of the flu virus. Still, she had to open.

Two months without customers or sales had strained her - and her parents' - business and personal bank accounts.

"It will take us a good month to get back on our feet," she said.

"I will never move again. It took everything out of me, which is why I probably got so sick."

Still, Prather predicts that the benefits of her new location will eventually nullify the agony of the move.

"Most of my customers are residents and not tourists," she said, "so I am hoping to capture more of the local shoppers that go downtown."


Contact Ned Hunter: 636-0275