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Valley businesses bowing out

Bobby MagillGlenwood Springs correspondent

It may seem like locally owned businesses are disappearing faster than you can say “Wal-Mart.” But some business owners in town say there’s no reason for woe. So far in 2006, BSR Sports, Dragon’s Boot & Shoe, Los Desperados and Robin’s Hallmark have either shuttered for good or announced that they soon will. But as some locally owned businesses falter and blink out of existence, others continue to thrive despite increased competition and the proliferation of big-box stores – the reasons Dragon’s owner Jan Haines cited for closing her store. “For a majority of folks down here, it was a really good year,” said Downtown Business Association President Sue Sharpe, owner of Confetti Design on Grand Avenue. “I’m totally optimistic.”She said many factors come into play when a business shutters, none of which add up to a trend among locally owned businesses in Glenwood Springs. Haines said she has little hope for Glenwood’s slate of mom-and-pop stores as big-box discount stores ramp up competition in the Roaring Fork Valley. But others, whose businesses remain vital, are willing to take the challenge. “I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom down here at all,” Sharpe said. “It would be great if everyone got a positive attitude instead of dwelling on the negative all the time.”The demise of three local businesses recently doesn’t constitute a trend, she said. Anderson’s Clothing owner Gary Miller doesn’t think it’s a trend, either. Overall, local businesses are “pretty healthy,” he said. His store just completed the best January the store has ever experienced, and last week was “one of the best winter weeks we have ever had,” Miller said. Local businesses are vital, he said, and those who want to will find a way to succeed. Other local entrepreneurs are taking a different but equally optimistic tack – capitalizing on Glenwood Meadows. More than a half-dozen businesses at the Meadows – many of them franchises – are owned by Colorado-based business people, many of them from the Roaring Fork Valley. Locally owned businesses there include Marble Slab Creamery, Smoothie King, Magoo’s Grill and Bar, HealthStyles and others. Alisa Tillung, owner of the Smoothie King franchise and a Carbondale resident, said that even though some local business owners have decided to open a national franchise, they are still part of the community and contribute to local business vitality. Smoothie King is slated to open at Meadows sometime next month.”Everything about us is local,” Tillung said. Everything, that is, except that Smoothie King corporation is based in New Orleans. Tillung, a New Orleans-area native, said she supports local businesses. She plans to use a Montrose printer for her business literature and buy dairy products from the local Meadow Gold distributor. “Every place going into Market Street is not trying to compete with Eighth Street,” Tillung said. “We’re here for the long haul. … local ownership, corporate standards, [there’s] no way you can lose.”She said she plans to open five Smoothie King stores between Rifle and Aspen within four years. Ten are slated for the Western Slope. While many local entrepreneurs seem to be thriving, Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association president Marianne Virgili said there are still challenges for many of them to overcome. Increased competition in the marketplace contributed to many of the soon-to-be-defunct local businesses’ decisions to shutter, she said, but business overall in Glenwood Springs remains strong. “That means that it can be a challenge for small specialty stores,” Virgili said. “I just feel for the small businessperson because they do it 24-7. That is very strenuous and takes its toll on family life and personal life.”She said it’s a challenge for some local businesses to adapt to the changing marketplace, as retail outlets nationwide bring their businesses online and businesses throughout the valley compete for employees. But as Glenwood Springs adapts to Target, Lowe’s and all the other stores Meadows has brought to town, local businesses that haven’t caught on will gain better footing. “In time, it resolves itself,” Virgili said.


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