New downtown shops banking on bridge boon
A slew of new downtown Glenwood Springs retail shops, including a bit of local business history, could be a short-term gamble that pays off in the long run.
Recently, the vacated former Summit Canyon Mountaineering space at the northeast corner of Eighth and Grand became home to a familiar name from Glenwood’s past. Building owner Billy Bullock and his siblings settled on the family name for the new western wear and handmade leather home furnishings store.
It’s been 25 years since Bullock’s clothing and dry goods store graced the iconic downtown corner where the Glenwood Hotel once stood, and where a downstairs corner will soon house the Doc Holliday Museum. The famous gunslinger and gambler died in his hotel room at that location 130 years ago.
For many years in the middle part of the 20th century, Billy’s late father, Bill Bullock, operated the department-style store in the building that was constructed after the hotel burned down in 1945. The latter years of Bullock’s were spent farther south on Grand Avenue, across from the Van Rand Center, before closing in 2001.
After Summit Canyon moved from the Eighth Street corner across the Colorado River to Sixth Street earlier this year, the building was under lease for a potential restaurant/pub. Given the expense to convert the longtime retail space into a restaurant with the commercial kitchen, Bullock said that deal fell through, and the family decided to get back in business.
“It was a good opportunity, and we had wanted to get back into retail,” Bullock said. “We thought about some other names, but I talked to my brother [Roger] and sister [Jan], and we decided, ‘Let’s just do Bullock’s.’
“Now that we’re back, I have to say it feels right,” he said. “We’re having fun, and it’s such an unusual mix of merchandise compared to what we did before. I think it will really add to the tourism effect for Glenwood.”
In addition to Old-West-style, upper-end clothing and, of course, Doc Holliday T-shirts, Bullock’s carries Steel Strike Leather handcrafted furniture out of Buena Vista, antler chandeliers, a large selection of Indian rugs, Blue Casey boots, Stetson cowboy hats and more.
A father-and-son saddle shop is planned for the downstairs space where the Summit Canyon ski shop was located, and a Western jewelry shop is also in the works, Bullock said.
The idea was to be a unique store that the tourists and locals will appreciate, he said.
Bullock said he’s not concerned about the impact of the Aug. 14 Grand Avenue bridge closure and detour that could disrupt the flow of customers to downtown businesses.
“I’m pretty optimistic about it, actually,” Bullock said. “I think Glenwood is on fire right now; we have great restaurants, and it’s good to see more shops opening up.
“The other thing I’ve observed is that, when Bullock’s was downtown before retailers didn’t work together, and now they all work to try to help each other,” he said. “That’s really special.”
leap of faith
Joining Bullock’s among the new retail stores to open downtown in recent weeks are the Fourth Dimension men’s clothing store and the Murphy Brown Boutique on Cooper Avenue, and Toad & Co. The latter is a specialty clothing store in the 800 block of Grand that’s owned by Erin and Jon Zalinski, who also have Treadz shoe and clothing store next door.
“We were seeing less and less retail in the 800 block, and that was concerning to me,” Erin Zalinski said.
“Those of us with a little foresight think it’s a good idea to get going early, so when the veil is lifted and the new bridge is open, everybody will want to come and check it out,” she said.
Project officials expect the new bridge that will link Grand Avenue and Colorado 82 to Interstate 70 will be open to one lane of traffic in each direction by late November, after a 95-day detour that will divert traffic from Grand onto West Eighth Street and Midland Avenue to I-70 exit 114.
Once the new bridge is complete, the city of Glenwood Springs has grand plans for major redevelopment of the Sixth and Seventh street corridors on either side of the Colorado River. They will become a more pedestrian-focused downtown plaza and shopping/dining area.
“It’s going to change the landscape a little bit, but we want to have our best face on right away when that happens,” Zalinski said. “Glenwood has always been a great town, and I think we have an opportunity to reinvent our presentation.”
The decision to showcase Toad & Co. women’s and men’s clothing in a stand-alone store was an opportunity “to appeal directly to the way people live and dress here in western Colorado,” she added.
The Zalinskis also purchased the adjacent building where the new store is located, solidifying their commitment to Glenwood’s downtown core.
Cooper’s the place
Ivy Arneson and Miles Rattet had much the same attitude about the state of downtown when they decided to open Fourth Dimension next to Mona Lisa, which is owned by Arneson’s mother, Lisa Manzano.
A lot of stores carry mountain wear, Rattet noted, “but we were lacking in something for the urban business casual focus, so we decided to put something together for the guys.”
What was a side entrance into the Hotel Denver with access to the upstairs conference rooms was converted into a new retail space with a pocket door connection to Mona Lisa, a long-established women’s clothing and accessories store.
“We’ve had a vision for something like this for quite a few years, and it just all fell into place,” Arneson said. “This community is always so good about supporting local businesses, and even with the bridge closure coming people want to be involved with downtown.”
Ditto that thinking for Jill Murphy, who recently opened the Murphy Brown boutique, located a few steps up Cooper. The store offers clothing, jewelry, accessories and gifts.
“With the amount of time the bridge is going to be closed, it will have a relatively insignificant long-term impact, and I think the overall benefit to downtown will be great once it’s done,” said the long-time owner of Misstyx in Aspen and wife of Glenwood Adventure Co. owner Ken Murphy.
“I’ve wanted to open a store in Glenwood for about the last five years, and when the spot on Cooper came available I thought it was the right time,” she said.
Murphy added that she anticipates the bridge closure and detour will actually generate more foot traffic in the downtown core, which should benefit retail shops and restaurants. With later store hours, open until 9 p.m., she said she aims to attract the after-dinner crowd.
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