It's hard to think about Christmas shopping and festivities when the weather is so beautiful. The temperatures are in the mid-50's, for crying out loud! But that's exactly how my friend Heather and I started our Small Business Saturday journey in Conifer, Colorado. Beautiful weather and a treasure hunt for hidden bargains, new friendships, and a better understanding of just what it was like to shop local in the My Mountain Town Community for the holidays.
We began our morning at 9:30 with the Conifer Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Melanie Swearengin, at the Kum 'N Go at Kings Valley. Together with a handful of Chamber Ambassadors (the ambassador team is the welcoming committee for new members), we set off to spend money in our community and support small businesses. We were excited and honored to be a part of their passion that helps to promote businesses, attend ribbon cuttings, and be the local go-to for new members of the Chamber of Commerce.
1. Our first stop was Kings Emporium Consignment Shop in the Kings Valley Shopping Center. We spoke with the owner, Cindy, and learned about her store. On the left, when I walked through the door, a coffee corner (complete with a Barista bar and seating area) welcomed me in. Heather noticed a photo of a young man on the wall. In speaking with Cindy, we learned just how important this space really is.
"We have a real focus on the developmentally disabled," Cindy said. "So we're building this for them. Just waiting on the power for the freezer and then the barista will come in. After that, there will be classes on Wednesday for various things like making ornaments, and wreaths. This spot is all about my son, Josh. He passed away, so this is his place. And it supports his friends.
The community is an important theme for Kings Emporium Consignment Shop. By the registers, for example, there is a collection of items for the local police and emergency service departments. Once a month, we learned, they donate these items to the local servicemen. For kids facing tragedy it's crucial, they feel, to give those kids something they can hold onto.
We agreed wholeheartedly.
In addition to the functions they host to support the community, Kings Emporium has some fantastic items available for purchase. Everything you can imagine from beautiful jewelry, to antique toys, to artwork from world-renowned artists, to furniture.
There truly is something there for every taste in style and it's such a loving atmosphere! Stop by next time you are in the area and say hello to Cindy. I promise you won't regret it!
2. Our next stop held a true surprise for us! Santa and his elf were at Moore Lumber in Pine. Our crew got to take a picture with Santa and his helper. While we had cupcakes, cookies, and apple cider, Julie from Macaroni Kid did a Facebook Live video. Rachel's Creations was at Moore Lumber, friendly and helpful as she painted cheeks with butterflies, dragons, and fanciful creatures. She smiled as she put the finishing touches on her face painting subject and sent them on to Santa. For those little ones (or adventurous adults) who wanted a new face for the day, Rachel was the magician in charge of their transformation. Rachel Baer Henderson is the Owner/Artist of Rachel's Creations, which specializes in murals, facepainting, faux, canvas painting parties and more.
The Park County 4H Club was also at Moore Lumber selling their 2018 calendars. The photos in the calendar from the area are stunning and showcase the beauty of the Colorado mountains. The Park County 4H Club has several different clubs that children can participate in. Cloverbuds starts kids out at 5 years old and they go all the way to 18. The Hamburger Helpers, a club whose members are between 9 and 11, were selling the calendars to help pay for some of the expenses of 4H. The money raised will go towards camp and club activities.
The boys were very polite and considerate when asking visitors if they would like to purchase a calendar. The mom's of the boys stood to side and reminded them to use their manners. One boy, Brody, talked with me about what he does for 4H. He is involved in a lot of different activities including rockets and outdoor cooking, cake decorating, shooting sports, livestock, shooting sports, horses, dog and photography. In addition, the club also participates in several community events. They will be at the Conifer Christmas Parade on December 2nd, Cowboy Christmas in Bailey on December 3rd, and the National Western Stock Show Parade and Rodeo in January. The club is currently looking for volunteers to help with events and people who are interested in joining the Fair board. This board is responsible for organizing the fair for the kids.
It was a pleasure to hear about the community events and how the kids are involved and giving back. I look forward to hanging the calendar in January and being reminded of this great conversation!
3. Next on our tour was the Conifer Bike Shop where we met bicycle expert and business owner, Sam. The atmosphere in the shop upon walking in was very welcoming. Sam is a really cool guy who smiles and laughs frequently. Conversation was easy to have with him as he talked about his passion. He talked with us about his plans for the shop for the coming year and mentioned that he is looking at bringing in e-bikes for rent. There was a buzz in our group about how wonderful this would be for the area and how it would fit a true need in the community. Sam has over 600 bikes available to fit into any budget and he is a great resource to chat with to learn about the biking community in Conifer! Keep an eye out for Sam's custom creation, his Truck Trike Bike that they will be using for parades and festivals in the community. If you have any questions on bikes, need parts, repairs, or even a new-to-you bike – you must talk to Sam!
4. No holiday shopping excursion is complete without a stop into Blue Spruce Toys. They have toys for kids of all ages (and yes, even for you adults!). As a Lego Affiliate®, they have an excellent selection of the newest Lego collections at very reasonable prices. From stuffed animals, to infant toys to desk toys for the professional – Blue Spruce Toys has got you covered! It's a fun atmosphere with very friendly associates who are eager to help answer questions and find the perfect item you are searching for. The associates were easy to talk to and talked about how much they enjoy their jobs and working for owners Kitty & John Reed. They even offer complimentary gift wrapping in store to save you time and energy!
One of the conversations that Heather and I had with the associates was about picking a mascot for the office. We settled on a peacock stuffed animal that is darling and unique! There were lots of fun fidget and focus toys available around the register. I stocked up on Aaron's Thinking Putty and loved the input of the associates on their favorite types of putty. The final purchase for the office was a large bucket of indoor snowballs. Between the putty and the snowballs, we are stocked up for stress relief! After spending too much money on office toys, laughing with the associates, and learning about toy trends, it was time to move on to the next store.
5. The Bean & the Leaf is a fantastic coffee and tea shop that encompasses the meaning of a family-owned business. Stephanie Evans is the owner and her daughter Megan manages the shop along with their marketing. Stephanie spoke about why she started the business and her dedication and love for the store was strong! "I still work downtown in corporate America, but I wanted something I could build that would be waiting for me when I retire and I am lucky enough to have my wonderful daughter, Megan, who was in a place in her life that I can still do what I do and she runs the place here while I'm gone. She pretty much runs the store for me. And people love her, and she's amazing and gives me peace of mind. I'm always up here on weekends and nights, but she's amazing."
The smell of the teas and goodies in the store were inviting and soothing when we walk in. They offer a selection of unique, loose leaf teas, gourmet coffees, infused olive oils, spreads and jams, and quaint kitchen décor. I was advised that the Conifer blend tea was a best-seller and a must-have. I am so glad I picked some up. If you have a coffee or tea-lover on your gift list, this is a must-visit.
6. Next door to The Bean & The Leaf is Luna's Mandala. Luna's offers gifts that are inspired by nature and goodies for the mind, body and soul to help you complete your own mandala. Providing excellent customer service is extremely important to Luna, the owner. When Heather asked what the best product Luna offers in the store, her emphatic answer was, "Customer service." The welcoming scents and the fun vibe of the store (and Luna!) are very inviting!
7. Taspen's Organics is another great place to stop in this shopping center. We were able to talk with Kelly about the products and services they offer. She mentioned that her favorite product is the "No More Aches" line which helps to ease any ache your body has, whether it be sharp or dull. In the active communities in the corridor, this product is one that should be kept handy to ease away the aches of snowboarding, hiking, and enjoying all the mountains have to offer.
Heather's favorite thing to learn about was the crystal room. The crystals are aligned with the chakras of the body and use light and sound to help cleanse and massage the energy field around the body. The room in which this healing session occurs is inviting and spiritual.
8. While you are visiting these fantastic shops, be sure to check out their neighbor, Look What I Found Boutique. This cute boutique is a consignment store that offers clothing for women of all sizes. In addition to offering unique clothing options, they also have jewelry and accessories available as well. Rebecca Brooks, the owner, said, "I pride myself in making sure that each piece that comes into the store is fresh and unique for my customers. There is something for everyone in the boutique and your new favorite treasures are here waiting for you." Rebecca's store, found in the Aspen Park Village Shopping Center, may be a bit of a treasure hunt, but it's worth the journey!
9. & 10. This is where we parted ways with Melanie and the Chamber Ambassadors, and ventured out on our own. After a quick but delicious bite at Brooks Place Tavern (highly recommended!) we continued our quest for the best local gifts on the corridor. Naturally, that led us to Yellow Barn Candles.
Heather was able to speak with Sam about the store and learn a little more about their products. Many of the candles and goodies in store are handmade right in Conifer, for instance. The Fraser Fir candle is the community favorite and is known for its rustic, mountainy, but sweet fragrance. The decor in the store was all built in house and the atmosphere is something Sam is very proud of.
We also learned that Yellow Barn Candles will be closing their doors on December 25th and will be relocating to Austin, Texas. But don't fret! You can purchase these amazing goodies on their website and they can be shipped directly to you. Be sure to stop by before December 25th to wish them the best of luck in Austin!
The sun had set on the corridor and it was time for the Christmas Lights Premier at the Conifer Community Church. Santa came down from Moore Lumber and made a visit to the kids at the church as well! The 2017 light season kicked off with a warm welcome from Pastor Lance Swearengin and the dancing lights to music was a hit with everyone. The little kids danced to their favorite songs while the lights captivated their attention. They were precious to watch! Carolers happily let us join in, and there were crafts galore in the fellowship hall with none other than Julie Dikken of Macaroni Kid. The evening finished with popcorn and Charlie Brown's Christmas. It was a great family event!
Now that we've made so many wonderful local business connections around town, we can't wait to see them at the upcoming events. Come make your own connections and find your treasures for the holidays when you come out to the activities and happenings around the My Mountain Town community! Check out the calendar below and go to our Community Calendar for details on all of these and many other events!
The 2014 Community Tree Lighting Ceremony and Kick Off of the Conifer Community Church Christmas Light Show! Video by My Mountain Town.