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New big-boxes don’t intimidate localmom-and-pop stores

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson
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Vitamin Cottage president Kemper Isely might consider Glenwood Springs to be “underserved” because there is no big-box natural foods store here, but Good Health owner Jackie Ruden thinks she has plenty of “raving fans” who will allow her business to thrive.Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of articles looking at the new Glenwood Meadows retail development center.Vitamin Cottage president Kemper Isely might consider Glenwood Springs to be “underserved” because there is no big-box natural foods store here, but Good Health owner Jackie Ruden thinks she has plenty of “raving fans” who will allow her business to thrive.Ruden owns the only natural foods store in Glenwood, tucked away on Cooper Avenue, only slightly removed from tourists crowding Grand Avenue one block away. By January, her quaint organic foods emporium will be competing head-to-head with Isely’s Lakewood-based Vitamin Cottage, slated to open next to Target in the sprawling new Glenwood Meadows shopping center. The story of Glenwood Meadows may be a tale of survival and adaptation on the part of locally owned retailers poised to compete directly with national big-box chain stores, many of which operate from Hawaii to the Carolinas.

Big John’s Ace Hardware, sitting in the shadow of the new Target store, will likely compete directly with Lowe’s, a North Carolina-based Fortune 500 “home improvement warehouse” behemoth with 1,150 stores in 49 states. Locally owned pet store High Tails in West Glenwood could compete directly with Petco, a San Diego-based pet care giant which operates 740 stores in 47 states. Those are big numbers, but the big-boxes’ local competitors aren’t intimidated. “There are a certain demographic of shoppers that like the warmth and feel of the smaller, quaint natural food store,” Ruden said. “We have seen families grow before our eyes and love having this bond with people.”Ruden has lived in the Glenwood area for nine years and she says she loves getting to know people who come from all over the Western Slope to shop at Good Health. They’re the store’s “raving fans.” However attractive Vitamin Cottage and all the other big-box stores at the Meadows will be, most shoppers in Glenwood will have to drive to get there. Ruden said she has received many comments from customers glad they can walk to Good Health. “Customers and people downtown want a grocery store of this nature on this side of town,” she said.Competition – from big-boxes or otherwise – is just the nature of the business, she said, adding that business is sure to change in town, but she plans to stick to Good Health’s family-oriented vision. While High Tails co-owner Laurie Raymond said she’s disappointed the big-boxes are on their way because “it’s regrettable how they change towns.” But, she said, Petco certainly has its place. High Tails doesn’t sell big, bulky plastic pet carriers and has to either lend them out or special order them for her customers. Petco, she said, will likely have a variety of such carriers on hand. But High Tails has loyal customers in Glenwood, and Petco isn’t likely to encroach very much on business, she said. “I don’t think they’ll duplicate what we offer,” she said.Beth Byerly and Raymond opened High Tails in February 2004, and learned that Petco was coming to town soon after they opened their doors. “We were worried about it at first,” Raymond said. “We have a different niche, and I think we’ll be OK.” High Tails specializes in dog and cat nutrition and caters to each pet’s special needs, she said. “Petco’s not going to have that level of expertise to offer.”She said she’s optimistic that High Tails’ customers will remain loyal.”I’ve just been in this field forever,” Raymond said. “The quality – they’re not going to be able to duplicate in a chain store. But there is a place for what they do offer, and that’s fine. I wish them well.”


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