Downtown Boulder is home to over 80% locally owned and operated businesses. Each one is founded with unique values and practices that define their store and add a personal touch to the community. Come along with me to get a look into what it really takes to run a local business in the district!
Apocalypse, a local, women-owned, secondhand business was founded downtown in January 2021 upon the values of sustainability, inclusivity, curiosity and responsibility. The store provides people with the option of buying, selling or trading clothes without the environmental cost that comes with the purchase of new fast fashion.
“Apocalypse inherently has a circular model of business where we’re taking things that are already in existence and just recirculating them throughout our community,” said Madison Moorhead, co-founder of Apocalypse.
Buying secondhand is the most sustainable fashion option because it reduces the carbon footprint created during the production of new clothing. The world of fast fashion inherently relies on a plethora of precious natural resources such as water, minerals and land. Microplastics resulting from synthetic fibers and excess plastic packaging waste seep out into water streams.
“There is an impact of buying new clothes from a company. Clothing production requires valuable resources like textiles, fibers and fabrics, as well as the environmental costs of those things, including a lot of water and the land usage of growing those textiles if you’re buying natural fibers,” Moorhead said.
In addition to being more environmentally friendly, buying secondhand allows for the development of personal style in a unique way. Apocalypse offers clothing for every taste in fashion and emphasizes inclusivity and curiosity, so that everyone can walk out of Apocalypse with something they love, no matter what size they are or style they choose.
Another local business that practices community engagement and prioritizes quality, taste and ethical practices is Boulder Olive Oil Company. With a tasting bar and a beautiful brick interior, the store is the perfect place to shop for olive oils, balsamic vinegars, local honeys and more gourmet goods.
Michelle Liefer, store manager at Boulder Olive Oil Company, believes in giving back to the community with high-quality olive oil. “I buy and source our olive oil, and it is really about all the quality. We strive to provide unique olive oil - hopefully one that you can’t find in a local grocery store chain.”
Boulder Olive Oil Company has developed a sense of community through its welcoming and friendly atmosphere. The business offers a unique tasting bar that provides the opportunity to sample honeys, chocolates, olive oils and other spreads.
“A personal mission of mine is I want everyone to feel welcome at Boulder Olive Oil Company. I don’t want to feel like we hold any sort of arrogance or superiority that some food companies tend to have,” Michelle said. “I’m here to help you enjoy it.”
Boulder Olive Oil Company was founded by Colorado local Michael Graham, falling under theLost City businesses umbrella, which includes Lost City Coffee inside of Avanti Boulder. Graham gives back to the community in addition to providing high-quality food and beverages.
“Michael has always been a philanthropist,” Leifer said. “He has supported various causes over the years - most recently, giving back to Ukrainian refugees through housing solutions during the war.”
Through Lost City, Graham has created a support network that provides training and mentoring for female entrepreneurs from immigrant and refugee communities. He currently raises money for various philanthropic causes through hosting fundraisers and nonprofit events in his businesses.
Strengthening the local community is the main driver for another Boulder-based organization, the Boulder County Farmers Market (BCFM). BCFM started from farmers coming together and selling food out of the back of their trucks in downtown Boulder. Since then, it has evolved into a beloved Boulder tradition and allows local food producers to sell directly to the public.
“It’s important to support local food producers because they go above and beyond in the quality of their products and their practices of growing food or making food,” said Frankie Ryder, BCFM’s Marketing and Communications Manager.
BCFM cares deeply about promoting local producers. They are a growers-only market, meaning that one could not buy products from someone else and resell at the market.
“We are really community-focused. Food is a large part of a farmers’ market, but people are an equally as large part as well,” Ryder said. “We interface with our customers and our vendors to create a place where you feel like you are walking in and seeing familiar friendly places - that is really important to us.”
BCFM has even promoted the growth of small-startups that are now multimillion dollar brands, such as Justin’s Nut Butters and Noosa Yogurt. The two businesses started their ventures with the support of the market, which helped them evolve into the brands they are now.
“We are a market whose leadership is reflective of the values of our local farmers and local food producers,” said Ryder.
A place that fosters the growth of start-ups, small business and local farmers, BCFM will continue to serve the Boulder community with its market every Saturday from April 1 - November 18, 2023 and every Wednesday from May 3 - October 4, 2023.
The importance of keeping business local is especially true for Nicole Hurdle, part-owner of Hurdle’s Jewelry. Hurdle’s, which opened in 1947, is one of downtown’s longest-lasting businesses. Family operated and owned for over 76 years, Hurdle’s was first established by Nicole’s great-grandfather.
“I believe that the importance of a family-owned business, especially in our industry, is gaining and maintaining trust within our community," Hurdle said. “For our community to know that we’re here for them regardless of the matter is crucial for us. No job is too big or too small.”
Hurdle prioritizes strong ethics and customer service in her business practices. She offers top-tier repair and custom design services and wants everyone to find the jewelry of their choice.
“From our vintage/estate/consignment section to bridal and fashion to watches, we have something for everyone,” Hurdle said. “Often people feel intimidated to walk into a jewelry store, nervous that we won’t have anything within their budget; however, we have gifts starting under $100. And if we don’t have something in store, we’ll find it!”
Hurdle also values giving back to the community through local charities, schools or events. Whether it is a donation or a sponsoring of her business for the event, Hurdle loves keeping it local in the community and collaborating with locals as well.
“I feel beyond fortunate to have the opportunity to run a local business, especially in Boulder!” Hurdle said.
Ultimately, local businesses downtown thrive because of their values and their unwavering dedication towards supporting and welcoming the Boulder community. Apocalypse, Boulder Olive Oil Company, BCFM and Hurdle’s Jewelry all share a common love for originality and good hospitality. Swing by downtown to support these incredible local businesses!
See you around!