Following a busy year and even busier summer in which Buena Vista set monthly sales tax records in June, July and August, one glance down Main Street shows those gains were not isolated instances.
Several new businesses have opened or will be opening in the near future on Main Street, South Main and U.S. 24, setting Buena Vista up for another possible record setting sales tax year.
“I think what’s exciting is that downtown is vibrant again,” town administrator Brandy Reitter said. “There’s a lot of pedestrian traffic, when there wasn’t any of that in 2013. Vacancy rates are down substantially and it seems like businesses are able to make it through the slow season a little better than they were before.”
Buena Vista native Uriah Werner recently made a big investment in his hometown with the long-term lease of the old Orpheum Theater space.
Werner and his two brothers own the Surf Factory in Nathrop and Werner has owned the Loft Music Venue and Theater in Colorado Springs for the previous 7 years.
He’s hoping to bring that same model to Buena Vista by hosting concerts and theatrical productions, while keeping the business financially viable by hosting weddings, special events and private parties.
Alcohol will not be served during concerts, allowing for an all-ages venue in which anyone can come out and enjoy live music or a production.
“I’ve learned over the last 7 years that music almost always never makes money … we’re not going to be a bar or sell alcohol. We want this to be an all-ages venue, which should be unique to the valley,” Warner said. “I wanted to do something for the community that it seems like has been tried but just hasn’t happened, at least to the extent that we’re hoping to make this happen.”
The Loft will host its first Buena Vista concert March 24, called “Hometown Heroes” and will feature Buena Vista natives Trace Bundy, Jonah Werner and Tim Thorton. Doors open at 7 p.m.
For more information on the event visit www.loftmusicvenue.com/public-events
At Blah Blah Blah on East Main Street, co-owner Eric Walters is hoping to provide Buena Vista residents with those tough-to-find items, especially in rural mountain communities.
“It’s really ‘See the need, fill the need,’” Walters said. “After being here 5 years, we knew a lot of people that would make the drive to the Front Range or go on Amazon. We figured why not open up a store that would kill two birds with one stone. It could push our art and provide people with things they were buying anyway.”
Blah Blah Blah can place speciality orders for things the store doesn’t already sell, Walters said, adding he and his wife are hoping the store will be able to sell residents things they want to buy but may have difficulty finding in town.
Walters said they are also using the store as a community-focused arts space for residents and artists, along with printing T-shirts and stickers.
“The whole premise is to sell you what you want to buy. We’re always open to suggestions. We love it when people come in and either they’re a local artist and want to sell stuff through our store or when people come in with requests. We do our best to get that kind of stuff in,” Walters said.
Buena Vista crafters are in luck. With the opening of A Co-operative of Retail Spaces on Main Street, artists and crafters can sell their wares at only a 25 percent commission fee, something Denis Mullin with the co-op said is a great bargain.
Currently, the co-op has five dedicated retail spaces. By His Hand specializes in arts and crafts, along with bringing in cosigners from low end to high end. Mulin also conducts children’s craft classes.
The Hot Spot Hot Sauce Co. sells spices and hot sauces, Flow Colorado is a speciality vintage cloth and items dealer, Xtreme Cowgirl offers custom jewelry and unique housewares.
Finally, Fantasy & Maker Space sells vintage toys, comic books and other goods. It also houses one of Buena Vista’s first 3D printers.
The co-op hosts other artists and cosigners selling everything from jewelry and paintings to wood burned signs and crocheted items.
“The thing that is most important to me is honoring God and being on Main Street. I love being here because you’re a part of a community and I love being able to share my love of creating things with others,” Mulin said.
With the opening of H & Co. A Luxe Salon on South Main, Chaffee County now has one of its first luxury salons.
Owner Heather Christine, formerly of Tomi’s Salon, said she thinks the relocation to South Main will be beneficial.
“There is a buzz in South Main. It’s such a beautiful area that is only growing more and more,” Christine said. “It is rebranding this area and bringing progress into the future, just like we plan to do with the beauty industry here in Chaffee County.”
She said she wants H & Co. to be more than just another salon.
“I created this from the ground up as a brand and as a whole new entity. I have been able to shake things up and create a standard … I am going to only continue to raise that standard higher and higher.”
While not a new business, Pinion Real Estate Group purchased the former upstairs Masonic Lodge on main street and moved into the building in October.
Julie Kersting said with the changing nature of real estate sales, it was important to have a presence on Main Street, allowing for realtors to connect face-to-face with more clients.
“With the internet, sometimes it cuts down on the face-to-face time we have with our clients. We’re hoping the Main Street location will give us a chance to sit down with people,” Kersting said. “Real estate is a big decision, so we pride ourselves on being real estate counselors. We’re thinking the new location will give us that opportunity.”
Katy Welter and husband Rick Bieterman have big plans for the retired Forest Service building on East Main Street. After purchasing the building in 2016, they’re calling it a community-focused shared space.
“What we’re doing is allowing people to book the space for all kinds of different purposes such as meetings, classroom spaces, co-working and during the summer we’re going to have a live performance venue and the Bearded Lady food truck,” Welter said.
The Watershed also features art work and crafts from residents, including work from local school district students.
“There’s a great energy in town. There’s a whole range of people of all ages and backgrounds and political beliefºs. We really think that forms the basis for great things,” Welter said.
On U.S. 24, Wilderness Country Taxidermy & Archery recently opened its doors. Calls seeking information were not returned by deadline.