August 5, 2010

Tumbleweeds Gift Gallery is a New Business in Fort Garland, Colorado

Whoa! What is happening in Fort Garland, Colorado? Long standing antique owner Sarah Vanderlaan is retired and the new owners have opened up Tumbleweeds Gift Gallery featuring southwestern gifts and home décor. You can’t miss the beautiful bronze elk inviting you to stop in and browse for unique gifts including rugs, hats, pottery, candles, mesquite lamps and homemade soaps, just to mention a few of their better selling items.

Scott and Jennifer Abbes, originally from Tennessee, have been travelling to the Southwestern states for the past 12 years as tourists. They finally decided to move to Colorado, buying Sarah’s house while still running their on-line business. Scott sells air filtration products under his other business, Clean Air Solutions LLC. Crispin and Iona Free from San Luis are their store managers.

Scott and Jennifer have felt welcomed into this community and see the huge potential as the first town travelers come to when entering the San Luis Valley on Highway 160 from the East. Scott has ideas for selling to hikers, tourists and locals. He is offering a “Sand Dunes” or “Hikers” survival kit, complete with mosquito repellant and sunscreen. Jennifer mentioned that early shoppers have purchased their jewelry, blankets and wall art, commenting that the quality is like Taos or Santa Fe but the prices are much better.

The Abbes have decorated their home with items such as mesquite lamps and southwestern rugs. When they looked around, they realized that other stores in the area were not selling these unique home décor items and decided to take a chance that others would like access to these as well.

Scott built the shelves and they re-did their cement floor with an acid wash. The place has so much charm inside and out, not to mention coffee and homemade cinnamon rolls, brownies and cookies, that it is a must stop on your next visit to Fort Garland. The store is open Monday through Saturday, 9-6 and on Sundays, 1-6. They are members of the local business association and contacted the SLV Small Business Development Center. To contact Scott or Jennifer, call 719-376-4149.

Mermaid Cafe now open for dinner in Creede Colorado

What are mermaids doing hanging out in the old mining town of Creede, Colorado? Several years ago when Sharon Brown decided to open up a café, she thought to herself, I want to really stand out and be different. She reminisced about one of her favorite songs called “Carey” on a Joni Mitchell album, where she mentions “the Mermaid Café” in her lyrics. Mermaids are known as the “sirens of the sea” and can “draw you in,” an effect she hopes to do with locals and tourists. The hand carved mahogany sign was created by John Homes of Todos Santos, Mexico. He also helped create the Boathouse in Creede.

The café is located on Main Street in a building that was damaged from a fire in 2006. When she was remodeling it, she was mindful to keep a part of history which is the warm, original brick wall, built in 1890.

Every restaurant owner faces unique challenges. One of the challenges in Creede is the boom and bust cycle that exists with the summer tourists and the quiet winters. Coming from Denver with over 25 years of management, entertaining and catering experience, Sharon fell in love with this quaint town which boasts a plethora of artists and home of the Creede Repertoire Theatre. She has local photos and paintings for sale by local artists that decorate her walls.

“My goal was to offer a different selection of food than what you can get at the other restaurants in town. I try to make my salads, soups and breads with the healthiest ingredients as possible. I like to be creative, so in addition to my regular menu, I rotate specials and have just added evening dining. Some of the patrons’ favorites are Salmon with Wasabi, Chipotle Meatloaf, Thai dishes and several Italian and Mexican specialties.”

The hours of the Mermaid Café are 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday – Saturday, closed Thursdays. Sharon contacted Donna Wehe at the San Luis Valley Small Business Development Center at 587-5151 for assistance in marketing and financial analysis.

“Come on down to the Mermaid Cafe and I will buy you a bottle of wine…and we'll laugh and toast to nothing and smash our empty glasses down” by Joni Mitchell. There’s a community table near the kitchen so people can come in by themselves and join in local conversation and fellowship. Sharon can be contacted by calling 658-1112. The Mermaid Café is located at 115 North Main in Creede.