The sound of children’s voices could begin to fill more of the halls of the Ivywild School, a former elementary school that houses restaurants and bars in Colorado Springs, thanks to a new toy and gift shop scheduled to open inside the building Friday.
The “community-based” Odds & Ends Emporium will open at 11 a.m. inside 1604 South Cascade Avenue’s 105-year-old building, selling products mostly from women-owned and USA-made vendors.
“We’re just really excited to open and show everybody what we’ve got,” said Erin Beedle, co-owner of the store. “I feel like we’ve really gathered stuff nobody else has. We’ve really collected items to sell that you’re not going to see in any other retail place in Colorado Springs.”
Beedle and her fellow co-owner, Keely Henkle, who have 25 years of combined small retail business experience, formed the idea for their store while they were working remotely at their jobs during the early months of the pandemic.
“COVID really helped; we had a lot of time,” Beedle said. “... It really just gave us a push forward.”
Beedle said she was concerned shoppers would be cautious about venturing out during the pandemic, but the amount of foot traffic she saw while setting up the shop made her hopeful.
"We have people peeking in the windows, trying to get in," Beedle said.
Christine Borst, one of 15 or so artists whose children's books, textiles and art prints are displayed in the store, found the community of woman business owners involved with Odds & Ends Emporium collaborative and inspiring.
"It’s very cool, too, to see the overlap of the makers and artists across the city and how places like the emporium make it so much easier for us to really shine," Borst said.
Beedle and Henkle focused on procuring items for the shop that aren't one-use toys, but instead give children and adults ongoing experiences.
Some such items include puzzles, stuffed toy panthers, witty birthday cards and Colorado artisan crafted jewelry.
Henkle emphasized that the items they sell align with their "values and truths," which include the duo's humor and quirkiness.
"We want people to be proud to have our stuff in the community," Henkle said.
In an interior office room of Ivywild School, Odds & Ends Emporium is full of natural light and walls of exposed brick. The store will move into its permanent location inside the building during the spring, which now houses Loyal Coffee Roasters.
Henkle and Beedle believe the location will give them a built-in customer base from regular foot traffic at the bars and restaurants.
Joe Coleman, owner and founder of Ivywild School, wanted to create a more “multigenerational” and “more kid-friendly" environment and thought Odds & Ends Emporium would be a perfect addition to the community hub, a release from the store said.
Coleman hoped the addition of a toy store would boost the venue's “stroller index,” a term used to describe the “urban health” of a city based on the area’s attractiveness to families.
"Local commerce has always been important to our vision of Ivywild School," said Mike Bristol, owner of Bristol Brewing Company inside Ivywild School. "Odds & Ends obviously fits that vision, but also aligns with our values of craft, enrichment and heritage."
Odds & Ends Emporium will be open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, with extended hours for opening weekend until 8 p.m.