By Megan Tackett
Sopris Sun Staff
Martin Central Vacuums Systems at 534 Highway 133 is in an unassuming shopping strip and is an unlikely location to find handmade catnip pouches.
“I mostly do the odd, unusual things,” said Margery Martin of her fabric-focused novelties. Her husband Ron runs the vacuum business and she displays and sells her wares from the same storefront. While perusers will find placemats and pot holders that are more familiar, most of Margery’s collection feels like a hodgepodge of items you didn’t know you needed.
“These are the catnip mats. Cats love them,” she said. “We had them in the animal hospital, and the resident cat had nine in the basement!” Dog lovers, fret not. Margery also makes kerchiefs that adorn dog collars.
Perhaps her most popular item is a sort of pocketed jewelry sack. “I’ve probably made 2,000 of these over [about] three years. I love making them. They are practical, and that’s what I like to make: practical things that people can use all the time that are pretty.”
It’s just one example of a truly family business in Carbondale. While Margery’s mother and extended family were all talented seamstresses, she never cared for the craft in her youth. “I wanted to be out on a horse, so I didn’t care one bit about sewing.” Much later, Ron gave her a sewing machine as a shower gift for their wedding. “I thought, ‘Why didn’t he get me something practical?’ But somehow, all of that genetic love of fabric and sewing came through,” she said.
Carbondalians are in no short supply of eccentric local shopping opportunities, from gifts to groceries. No matter where you go, chances are good that the entity has deep roots in the community. But some of the scenery is changing — and that can be a good thing.
One door closes, another opens
“Carbondale’s been amazing to us; absolutely amazing,” Cathy Britt, owner of Dancing Colours on Main Street, said her store and its 14-year run. “As far as our retail experience, it couldn’t have been any better. We don’t have anything that we would have done differently.” That said, it’s time for a new chapter. That chapter will be written by Toby and Lucy Britt, her son and daughter in law, who will be expanding The Beat into a fuller restaurant in June.
“We just feel really fortunate that we’re able to pass the space on to the kids,” Cathy said, adding that she wished more people had the opportunity to do something similar for a younger generation of business owners. “It can’t be up to us old folks. It has to be young people. I really believe that. So I’m thrilled that we can do this for them,” she said. “If I could do both, I would. But it’s their turn; it’s their dream.”
And dreaming they are.
“I’ll be able to use anything I want. I’ll be able to be a lot more creative,” Lucy said about the expanded restaurant that, unlike its first iteration, will include a full kitchen. “When we started, it was Beat Jr.,” she said, adding that the couple plans to maintain the ethos that inspired them to open a restaurant in the first place: locally sourced, hearty vegetarian cuisine. “My favorite thing to do is cook vegetarian food for people that don’t like vegetarian food,” she joked of the spirit of the fare she hopes to add to the local dining scene.
Additionally, the expanded space will double as a small event venue, she said, including weddings. While the weekly projected movie screenings will no longer be happening (the couple is considering hosting one or two movie nights as special events), there will be a large garden that will hopefully serve as an afternoon “hangout,” she said, adding that “we want to do a little art fair sometime in the summer.”
Dancing Colours will be closing its doors to make way her family’s new restaurant in February, Cathy said. “We are going to be closing around Valentine’s Day. We’ll start sales in time for everybody to get wonderful valentine gifts,” she said. And while it feels like the end of an era, she hopes that the store’s closing will leave a hole in Carbondale’s retail scene that will be refilled.
“I’m hoping someone else steps up to the plate,” she said. “We took a chance. We were committed to the long haul, and it paid off. So hopefully some wonderful landlord will give someone a leg up, a little bit of a headstart — because that’s what you need — and it’ll work out great for them.”
The Beat isn’t the only business in town that is expanding, nor is it the only place dedicated to supporting local food providers.
“We’ve got more meats now than we’ve ever had, and they’re [from] Carbondale and Delta,” said Laurie Loeb of Dandelion Market’s new location at 1310 Highway 133. “We reopened for two reasons: to serve the community and our members and to pay off all the small vendors and the farmers instead of declaring bankruptcy and leaving all of them hanging,” she said, adding that the idea of leaving suppliers unpaid went against the organization’s mission.
“I’ve been part of the co-op since day one. I really care a lot about it,” she said. “We’re still looking for some volunteers to work shifts. Mostly we need Saturdays. You have to make a commitment to work weekly, but for two hours only, you get 20 percent off of everything all the time,” she emphasized, noting that she does about 98 percent of her personal shopping at the market by taking advantage of her discount.
Small Business Saturday
Gifts and food, of course, are particularly relevant this time of year. ’Tis the holiday season, after all, and November boasts more than just Thanksgiving on the festive lineup. Business owners all over the country are gearing up for Small Business Saturday on Nov. 25, and Carbondale is no different.
The recognized holiday started in 2010 as an effort to contrast Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the latter of which encourages shoppers to spend their money online. Small Business Saturday is all about spending dollars in the communities in which people live and work. Of course, the hope among Chambers of Commerce and small business advocates is that the trend lasts long past just one day.
“Shopping local is so important because it not only helps the business thrive — which I think is very, very important — but the sales tax goes to our police, Town of Carbondale staff, Parks and Recreation, Sopris Park, Main Street…” Andrea Stewart, Carbondale Chamber of Commerce executive director, said. Events such as First Fridays and Mountain Fair require additional staffing from the town, all of which receives funding from sales tax revenues. “Even the library is dependent on the sales tax — just different things that people take for granted on a daily basis.” About 25 percent of sales tax collected in Garfield County go toward libraries; almost 19 percent supports 911 emergency services.
“Every penny counts,” Stewart said. So this holiday season, when you’re shopping local, you’re giving to more than just your intended giftee.