Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles about consumer spending habits in Woodland Park.
Fridays in Woodland Park offer a greater-than-typical pool of potential customers for shopkeepers and restaurant owners. Granted, traffic along U.S. 24 is challenging, with big trucks, campers, recreational vehicles joining the parade through town. But on a recent Friday, there were plenty of cars parked around town, many of them snagging a spot to spend money at the Woodland Park Farmers Market.
There were people roaming up and down the street, the foot traffic a vibrant site to warm the heart of any business owner. To top it off, many owners were too busy to do an interview that day, preferring instead a chat on another day.
And as the city grows, the variety of shopping and dining opportunities increases.
Colorado Gear Lab
Opened a year ago by Lynn and George Jones, the store is thriving in Woodland Square Vintage Market, 100 W. Midland Ave. With recycled, consignment and new outdoor clothing, equipment and accessories, the gear lab is a one-stop-shop.
“We love doing business in Woodland Park,” said Lynn Jones.
The Jones’s have a twist on the consignment part of the business — high volume, with 200 consigners and counting.
“Not only do they bring us quality gear and apparel but they also bring us business — either they shop here and tell people about us, or bring their friends in,” she said.
Jones has a ready smile and appears enthusiastic all of the time. “When you are a business owner you are an extension of Woodland Park,” she said. “When people come into your store it’s about the experience and if we help give them a great experience — that’s part of painting the big picture.”
Because of its location in the center of town, the gear lab is information central. “People want to know where the trails are where they can play disc golf,” she said.
Jones acknowledges the challenges inherent to small business. “The business climate is not necessarily easy, but there was nothing here like this and we felt we should try and not be afraid of failure, and do it in a way that minimizes the risk,” she said.
The location is commercial dynamite — right on U.S. 24 in the square. “We put out tables and chairs — people just come and sit; they love to look at the Peak or the camper parade,” she said, referring the high number of cars pulling campers during the summer, in addition to the RVs that pass through town.
Rocky ‘n’ Roll Music
Drums, guitars, keyboards and accessories, Rocky ‘n’ Roll Music is a musician’s haven, right on Woodland Park’s main street.
Hector and Shannon Herrera opened the store in April 2015, and customers come from all around the Teller and Park counties to shop.
“It’s like any other business,” Hector Herrera said. “Everybody starts from zero and you have to create your base, get your name out and establish a reputation, usually by word-of-mouth.”
By now, Rocky ‘n’ Roll has created a buzz among those in-the-know. “What people say outside of the store will definitely make a bigger impact, either positive or negative,” Herrera said. “There are a lot of factors that go into staying in business, getting stabilized and being successful.”
At first, the couple concentrated on the retail side of the business — the instruments. But as the business evolved, Hector Herrera added drum lessons, as a result of customer queries. “We thought lessons would be a little extra income,” he said. “Little did we know that four students would turn into 30.”
The shop is a place to get all the latest tidbits about music. For instance, Herrera says that vinyl is coming back — vinyl as in the old 78s and 45s, records played on a turntable at the dawn of the age of rock ‘n’ roll in the middle of the last century.
“We are growing in small increments which is definitely in the right direction,” he said. “No one starts extremely successful, profitable and rich quick. In every small business, you have to grind, really work hard, go months without a day off.”
A Full House
From a 1921 Victrola that actually plays 78 RPM records and a 1906 carousel horse to animal pelts and a clock that plays a song from the television series “I Love Lucy,” A Full House is ripe for a treasure hunt by those who travel on the antique map.
Opened in 1996 on the city’s main street, A Full House has evolved from vendor inventory to one supplier. “This is all my stuff,” said Ron Konieczny, who owns the store with his wife, Tara.
If the store’s inventory could talk, the place would be a storybook. As it is, the items tease the imagination. Where did that full set of upscale china come from? Did the owner die or simply change patterns?
With Konieczny as narrator, there might be answers, maybe even a story that reveals a slice of history. People from all over the world somehow find their way to A Full House. “They come to see Pikes Peak. Summertime is my best time,” Konieczny said.
While he’s not complaining about the bottom line, Konieczny is hoping for a bigger bang around these commercial parts. “The more unique businesses we have in Woodland Park the more of a draw we’ll have,” he said. “There has to be a reason for people to come here, to see different things.”
Konieczny compares the dilemma to the cart-before-the-horse thing. “People say there should be more businesses up here — well, yeah, there would be if there was a reason for people to come here,” he said.
Then there’s that bugaboo. “It’s hard up here, especially with things like Amazon,” he said.