Back to business: Say goodbye to downtown Rifle construction with Business After Hours
When Western Garfield County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Julie Vanhoek asked downtown business owners to jot down enough signatures needed to obtain a permit to close down Third Street, there was no pushback.
“It was a unanimous ‘yes,’” she said. “We need to bring back business.”
Between 5-7 p.m. Oct. 15, downtown storefronts celebrate the official opening of Third Street by inviting the public to mingle, drink and enjoy live music and libations during the chamber’s Business After Hours event.
The Rifle Rotary Club will host a beer tent, with all proceeds going back to downtown establishments that sell alcoholic beverages. Meanwhile, scheduled is a live performance by the Jeff and Phil Duo.
In many respects, downtown Rifle has been through the wringer.
First, it was COVID-19 keeping prospective shoppers trapped at home. Then storefronts began seeing Third Street getting completely ripped up due to a major infrastructure and beautification project.
Construction has lasted from early spring to early fall. For some time, the $3.8 million project, which transformed the old asphalt roads of downtown Rifle to new concrete surfaces, disrupted parking and commercial access.
The times also proved tough for the chamber. Vanhoek said the Business After Hours event should help rejuvenate the chamber.
“It’s not just the construction and COVID,” she said. “But it’s the chamber getting back into what the chamber does.”
For the Midland Arts Co., a volunteer-run consignment art shop that features works done by many locals, the woes of downtown Rifle led to a 30-40% drop in revenue, said Lindsey Johnson, one of the operation’s four partners.
“For a time the customers had a very hard time getting to our shop because of the road work that was being done, and previous to that was COVID,” she said. “I think people just quit coming downtown because of that.”
Johnson said, however, Rifle officials did their part to help out. Midland paid off rent and utilities bills using $6,000 in subsidies facilitated by the city.
“The community has been incredibly supportive of Midland Arts,” Johnson said. “We are very appreciative of that.”
Now that Business After Hours ushers in the end of downtown construction, Johnson said she simply looks forward to once again mingling with all her fellow downtown merchants.
“We hope people come downtown and check us out again,” she said.
IF YOU GO
What: Business After Hours
When: 5-7 p.m. Oct. 15
Where: Downtown Rifle
Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or email@example.com.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
The taste of Guatemala: Pastries from scratch, coffee fresh from a Belgian press at Rifle’s new Cafe Kape Panaderia
When it comes to drinking coffee, there’s no straying from tradition in Guatemala.