Rifle’s Karylett’s calling it quits
RIFLE, Colorado – For nearly 30 years, Karylett’s in Rifle has been a favorite among locals from Rifle and the surrounding areas as the place to buy the perfect gift or just find a unique treasure, from gourmet jelly beans to jewelry, spices and dishware, bath products, candles, antique furniture and so much more throughout the year.But it is all coming to an end.As of May 28, the store at 102 East Ave. will close its doors.Kathy Runia and her husband, Kevin, bought the store in 2006 from its original owner, Carol Gentry. Carol had opened the store in 1989 with her business partner, Etta, and started it with one room of dollhouses and miniatures. The building, which was built in the 1900s, at one time was the Rifle Courthouse, and the back portion of the home housed two local magistrates.Gentry wanted to sell the store to retire and move closer to her children. Runia, a longtime customer of Karylett’s and resident of Rifle since 1989, was looking to open an antique store somewhere in Rifle.”I’d been a customer here for years and she said, ‘You need to buy this – I’m ready to retire,'” Runia recalled.After Runia purchased the property, she kept a large part of the merchandise Karylett’s was known for – including the gourmet jelly beans at the cash register – but added her own touch as well.”We picked some of our own stuff and changed it a bit and put our own spin on it,” Runia said. “But we’re the only place on the Western Slope that sells gourmet jelly beans in bulk.”Nevertheless, the recession has taken its toll on the shop as it has on so many other businesses.”The property taxes have nearly doubled and the economy being what it is …” Runia said, her voice trailing off. “Business was good up until this last year. Since then, it’s been a struggle. The biggest problem here is that these are things you don’t have to have. They’re not a necessity.”Karylett’s was down about $7,000 in sales in December.Construction of the new library across the street hasn’t helped, either. Runia said parking in front of the store is now inconvenient, if not impossible, for her customers.So two weeks ago, she made the decision to shut the store down.”I kept holding on to the emotional end of it,” she said, her eyes welling up with tears. “I love this store. I loved it before and I thought I could hold up to [the recession]. But then I had to put all my emotions into a shoebox and look at it from a business perspective. It’s our heart and soul, but it’s also my retirement.”Runia says one of the things she’ll miss most are her customers – many of whom have also welled up with tears when learning that she is going out of business.”The customers here are wonderful,” Runia said earnestly. “I have so many regulars.”May 28 will be the last day of business at Karylett’s Country Store, and the building is currently for sale through Cheryl & Co. real estate in downtown Rifle.As for Runia, she’s not quite sure what she’s going to do next. “I guess I’ll go look for a job,” she said with a shrug. “Fortunately, I adapt to change very well. I’m an adventurous soul.”
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