Happy July, Boulder!
July is Independent Retailer Month! There is no better time to celebrate and support downtown's independent businesses. Our beautiful downtown district would not be where it is today without our incredible, locally-owned businesses and our beautiful community that keep these hardworking retailers, stores, restaurants (and more) alive and well in the heart of Boulder!
Here at Downtown Boulder, we are all about #lovethelocal! To us, local is more than a place - it is who we are. Downtown Boulder business owners are passionate, resilient and creative entrepreneurs.
In light of Independent Retailer Month, I have decided to share with you some of the local businesses that have been along for decades, those that are new to the Boulder community and everything in between! Let’s take some time and learn about the businesses that make Boulder feel like home to so many.
Let’s begin with our incredible original businesses that have been around for decades and paved the way for others.
One of the most iconic places in our downtown district and the first luxury hotel built in the city is the Hotel Boulderado! Since its opening in 1909, this incredible hotel has become a landmark downtown, drawing in visitors near and far. Guests have the opportunity to stay in Victorian-inspired rooms and enjoy views of the Pearl Street Mall, the Rocky Mountain foothills and the iconic Boulder flatirons. Home to countless restaurants, bars, retail spaces and even a barber shop throughout the years, the Hotel Boulderado remains a community gathering place for locals and tourists alike.
Lauren McKown, a Boulderado employee, shared with Downtown Boulder just why the hotel is so special to so many.
“We have tried very hard to make our history our present. Before the hotel, Boulder was not as much of a destination. The Hotel Boulderado was essential in Boulder’s early development and helped it become the thriving city it remains today. It’s not a building you drive by that you’ve seen in 20 other locations, it’s so unique and such an integrated part of the community. From yearly New Year’s Eve Galas to a 28 ft Christmas tree that stands proudly in the lobby, the Boulderado is home to many traditions.” - Lauren McKnown, Hotel Boulderado Historian, Executive Housekeeper and Director of the Sustainability Program
Another classic and historic spot downtown is the Boulder Theater! Its opening night was held on January 9, 1936, and was the go-to film spot until it was remodeled in 1981 to serve as a concert venue. Home to operas, concerts, films and exciting events over the years, the Boulder Theater has become a staple of Boulder’s entertainment industry.
Then, in 1947, came Hurdle’s Jewelry. Hurdles was founded by Chester L. Hurdle and his wife Bernice Hurdle. The jewelry store has thrived on Pearl Street and has continued to be operated by the same family that founded it. Hurdle's Jewelry became the first jeweler in Boulder to join the American Gem Society, meaning they adhere to the strictest gemological and ethical standards in the entire jewelry business. Today, this family-owned and operated business is one of the oldest and most successful businesses on the Pearl Street Mall. Be sure to head over to Hurdle’s Jewelry this month and support this historic, small business!
In the 1960s, Pedestrian Shops was on the rise. Richard Polk, the founder, started selling shoes out of the back of his truck. He later transformed his entrepreneurial efforts into a full-blown, family-owned business by opening Pedestrian Shops with one location downtown. Today, there are two more outside of the district still run by Richard and his two awesome daughters Zoe and Lauren! Since its start in the 1960s, Pedestrian Shops has provided Boulder with stylish, functional and comfortable footwear. Pedestrian Shops has become a familiar favorite downtown and we can surely say that Richard’s hard work paid off!
In 1969, License No.1 (formally known as Catacombs) earned its legal license to serve hard liquor at the bar in the basement of Hotel Boulderado. When Hotel Boulderado opened its doors in 1909, the City of Boulder was dry and had outlawed the sale of spirits within city limits. License No.1 was one of the very first to earn a license to serve alcohol and continues to operate with the very same liquor license. This underground speakeasy-style cocktail lounge is a tribute to the elegant charm of the early 20th century. It is the perfect place to visit to experience downtown’s rich history and charm.
The 1970s led to a boom of small businesses downtown including many artistic institutions. Some of the first independent retailers downtown include: Art Source International, Boulder Book Store, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Brewing Market, El Loro Jewelry & Gifts, Goodrich Violin Shop, The Little Jewel, Peppercorn, The Ritz and Trident Booksellers & Cafe.
And from then on, there was no stopping the downtown district! Hundreds of family-owned businesses began to plant their roots here in Boulder and have continued to grow ever since.
Now, Downtown has over 150 retailers, with over 80% of those being locally owned and operated!
The downtown district is home to outdoor apparel shops, artistic endeavors and stylish clothing for all.
Two Sole Sisters is one of downtown’s local businesses that had an incredible entrepreneurial journey on our very own East End. Sisters, Laurel and Lindsey opened Two Sole Sisters in 2008 after being inspired by their grandmother’s collection of shoes and their long family history of entrepreneurs.
Hear from Laurel and Lindsey, themselves, about what being a local business owner means to them.
“When we first opened, we were the only employees and we maintained a small inventory. Right away, we received amazing support from the local community. And over the past 13 years, that is something that has never changed - through all the ups and downs, the Boulder community is committed to supporting small businesses”- Lindsey, Two Sole Sisters Co-Owner.
“I've learned that only 10% of this business is about shoes, the other 90% is about the relationships we have with the people in our community. We know the artisans creating the shoes, handbags, and jewelry for our stores and we relish the opportunity to share their stories with our clientele”- Laurel, Two Sole Sisters Co-Owner.
Gypsy Jewel is another of our local businesses with an inspiring story behind its creation. Maruta, the founder, lived in Nepal for over 12 years and came back to Boulder inspired by the culture, community and sense of belonging she experienced during her travels. Maruta works by the belief that art is a connection to others from around the world. It is the effort to bring people from different cultures together that guides the work of Gypsy Jewel. Run by both Maruta and her daughters, the store has become a well-known favorite downtown, and for good reason. Maruta frequently travels to Nepal and India to source jewels, textiles and art to feature in her store as well as to rekindle connections with the communities that inspired the store’s creation.
“We really need connection - between cultures and between people - now more than ever,”- Maruta, Gypsy Jewel Owner.
If you would like to learn more about our downtown retailers, be sure to check back each month to see our monthly shopping specials, often featuring many of our beloved local businesses.
And with that, I hope you have learned more about all the incredible independent retailers and business owners that we are so lucky to have here in the downtown district. Be sure to head downtown and support these locally-owned businesses this month more than ever! Here’s to the businesses who have been part of the dynamic downtown landscape, and thank you to the locals and visitors who have continuously supported them along the way. We can’t thank you all enough for making downtown so special!
Stay tuned for next week’s blog post when we dive into some of downtown’s locally-owned restaurants and vendors! We are so excited to celebrate Independent Retailer Month all month long!
More to come!
Got any questions? I’d be happy to help. Feel free to reach out to me, Rebecca, at email@example.com!
Mentioned in this Post: Art Source International Inc., Boulder Book Store, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Boulder Theater, Brewing Market Coffee, El Loro Jewelry & Gifts, Goodrich Violin Shop, Gypsy Jewel, Hotel Boulderado, Hurdle's Jewelry, License No. 1, The Little Jewel, Pedestrian Shops, Peppercorn, The Ritz, Trident Booksellers and Cafe, Two Sole Sisters