Editor’s Note: This the third in a series about doing business in Woodland Park.
In a time when the national retail industry is struggling to stay ahead of Amazon and the chains, local business owners are relying on hard work and attention to detail to keep their doors open.
My Sweet Escape Bakery & Cafe
Five years ago, Renee Taylor opened My Sweet Escape Bakery & Café in Gold Hill Square North. For people with a sweet tooth, the bakery means the city has arrived, when it comes to having it all.
Taylor is dedicated to doing everything right there in the kitchen. “I don’t have any food truck service whatsoever; I go get everything myself, hand-pick everything,” she said.
In fact, Taylor spares nothing when it comes to ingredients. “If it calls for liquor, we use real liquor, real butter,” she said. “We’re not one these gluten-free, no-this-that-or-the-other, we are an old-fashioned bakery.”
Taylor acknowledges that it’s tough at times to do business in Woodland Park. “Summertime is our bread-and-butter, a time when we get people from all over the country, sometimes from all over the world,” she said. “We’ve had people from Australia, Pakistan and England.”
Taylor has achieved local fame for her kolaches, a pastry recipe that harks back to her Czech ancestry. From making sweet-filled kolaches, Taylor expanded the recipe to include hamburger buns made from kolache dough, putting a Czech pizzazz on the old-fashioned hamburger, aka Kolache Burger. “They have been a big hit for us,” she said. “That is our ‘bread and butter’ now.”
Over the past five years, she has added breakfast, with omelets, burritos and cinnamon rolls made with kolache dough. And her specialty cakes give the city of Woodland Park a little extra commercial oomph.
Besides all that dough and sweetness, Taylor has another innate ingredient in her recipe for success. “I enjoy what I do, love baking; it’s a lot of work but if I’m on vacation I do have baking withdrawal,” she said, with a hearty laugh.
SYS Auction and Sales
With an ideal, even cutting-edge, location in Woodland Square Vintage Market, SYS Auction and Sales beckons the collector, the shopper. A vendor-driven business developed by Nick Pinell, SYS offers rental space to area crafters and artisans. As a result, there’s a great possibility of finding something that nobody else has.
Take the hanging lamp made from a milk crate, for instance, or a flag drawn on a piece of wood. And it’s probably a safe bet that not a lot of stores carry a coffee table with a tractor base.
“We all try to think outside the box on how we can repurpose stuff,” Pinell said. “I try to follow trends. Our vendors have different eyes for things. You’ve got the new along with the rusty-crusty farmhouse stuff. One vendor likes to build things.”
For Pinell, doing business in a small town means working together. If customers want something he doesn’t have, he refers them to A Full House antique store a short walk away.
With his variety of vendors, Pinell is not concerned about the online-shopping craze. “Amazon is not my competitor, because you can’t buy this stuff on Amazon,” he said.
Nonetheless, taking time to sit back and relax doesn’t cut it in Woodland Park’s commercial sector.
“Overall I think Woodland Park business owners work a little bit harder to maintain,” Pinell said. “Everybody wants that almighty tourist dollar but in reality, I love my locals; they’re the ones that keep me going in the winter.”
With a clever concept and an eye for interior design, Stephanie Scoville and Lyndsey Hart created a unique shopping experience in the center of downtown. From clothing and shoes, to antique clocks, art and furniture, Jackalope is a place to browse, shop and delight in the variety of the displays.
The woman launched a serendipitous partnership based on the business background of each. Scoville is a real-estate agent for Abode Estate Services and Homemart Realty Group, and that part of her business provides the inventory. “When the contents of a home don’t sell, we bring them here so we can sell the items for the family,” Scoville said.
Hart, who launched the Warehouse in Woodland Park several years ago, brought recycling to the forefront of upcycled marketing. “We do take consignments from people who have lost joy with something in their house so they can buy something that makes them happier,” Scoville said.
With its prime location, Jackalope has benefited from the influx of tourists this summer. “The Texans have definitely arrived. And the locals have been bringing their friends and family,” Scoville said. “Because there is not a lot of retail therapy in Woodland Park. And we are here to provide retail therapy.”
In only a short time, Jackalope has responded to demand. “The locals have been coming for fashion and to furnish their cabins,” Scoville said. “And this is a great place to buy things for men. We have wall art, fishing and hunting items, for man caves. And we gift-wrap.”
For women, Jackalope offers more than shopping. “If women are having a tough day, I have a degree in business and one in psychology, in case they need to talk we’re here for them,” she said. “I feel like Lucy from Charlie Brown.”