Grand Avenue fly shop touches the past, connects a family
When you read the sign for Hookers, you may not expect to find a family owned and operated business with something interesting for everyone. But that’s exactly what awaits visitors to 719 Grand Ave., Glenwood’s newest fly fishing shop.
“Whether you fish or not, at this location you ought to be able to walk in the door and find something cool or novel,” said Steve Davis, who bought the building in 2016.
Steve, a home-building contractor as well as a City Council member, along with his sons Ryan and Michael, have renovated the 1890s building to become the home of a fly shop, a yoga studio and luxury apartments.
Racks of men’s and women’s outdoor clothing, caps, mugs and bottle openers with the Hookers logo and other mountain goods make it a store for more than just the river aficionado. The pole rack is a converted Grand Canyon dory, and the deck of the old boat serves as a shelf for clothing and tackle.
And at the back of the store is sign for hot yoga over the door to a back room where Ryan’s wife, Tara, has a heated and climate controlled space for the popular exercise class.
“Tara and I used to go with them to fly shops, and there was never one we wanted to be in more than three to five minutes,” Marilyn, Steve’s wife, said.
The name Hookers was just a catchy, fun name for a fly shop, Ryan said, and not an homage to the building’s rumored past as part of Glenwood’s old red light district. “It used to be a brothel, but that has nothing to do with the name,” Ryan said.
The logo features a hook, and the Colorado flag, to make it clear that the name relates to fishing.
For Ryan, a fly shop was the natural progression of the guided fishing tour business he has run for seven years. Ryan has one of three permits to lead fishing trips on the Colorado River through Glenwood Canyon, and leads trips on the river every day during peak season.
“We expect it to be unlike any fly shop anywhere,” Steve Davis said.
Steve began considering investment opportunities around the Grand Avenue Bridge well before the bridge replacement project started. At the time, 719 was owned by Tom and Joni Weir, who ran a candle-making shop and lived in an apartment above the store.
After buying the building and choosing a business, the process of making it a reality took two-and-a-half years. They worked on the building when they could, between Steve’s duties on the City Council and other construction projects, and Ryan’s fly fishing trips.
They tore off the roof, gutted it down to the walls, then slowly built the 2,500-square-foot retail space on the ground floor with vaulted ceilings and the original wood floors, two luxury apartments on the second floor, and are still working on creating a rooftop event space.
In the process, the Davis family uncovered a lot of history. In the apartment above Hookers, you can still see the doors, long since bricked over, that Steve says were part of the brothels that once stretched across the upper floors of several Grand Avenue buildings.
Steve took pains to keep the brick walls he worked so hard to uncover visible throughout the building, and restored the original hardwood floor on the main level.
He points to stains on the floor likely from embalming fluid, and what used to be a drain when the building served as a mortuary. “For 50 years, citizens of Glenwood were drained down that hole,” Steve said. “So I thought it was something you shouldn’t ignore. It’s special.”
For Steve, having a store in downtown Glenwood brings back memories. The family used to run Summit Canyon Mountaineering, now under different ownership, and wanted to build a similar store to take advantage of the new downtown atmosphere and the sporting community.
Steve recalls Ryan ringing up customers, standing on a stool at Summit Canyon, then located across and up the street at Eighth and Grand, when he was 10. He expects his grandchildren to be part of running the fly shop.
“It’s a great environment to grow up,” Steve said.
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Several Carbondale businesses are scrambling to relocate and others are just plain calling it quits following plans for one of the town’s oldest strip malls to be redeveloped.