Changes to Longmont’s downtown core have arrived in a slow, steady trickle. In the coming months, it will be a veritable flood. Half a dozen new retailers are open or opening in downtown Longmont this summer, including three apparel stores, a bike shop and a kitchen supply company.
New arrivals include:
Cheba Hut sandwich shop, 635 Main, opening mid-August;
Ivy Rose, women’s clothing, 520 Main St. Unit A, opening August/September;
SNOW Apparel, women’s apparel, jewelry and gifts, 520 Main St. Unit B, opening Sept. 1;
Kitchen Company, kitchen supplies and homeware, 464 Main St., opening July 1;
Longmont Bicycle Company, full-service bike and coffee shop, 314 Main St., opened mid-June;
Rockin’ Robin’s Retro & Resale, vintage and consignment clothing, 233 Main St., opened early June.
Just off the main drag, distillery Longtucky Spirits opened in late June at 350 Terry St., next to St. Vrain Cidery. Wedding venue The St. Vrain will debut in September at 635 3rd Ave, and La Vita Bella owner plans to move his coffee shop next door to 473 Main St. and co-locate with several tenants, including co-working space Hive.
“It’s fun to be downtown with all the new businesses going in,” said Kirsten Pellicer, Kitchen Company’s owner. “Downtown is emblematic of all of Longmont in that it has truly blossomed.”
Pellicer’s parents, Dan and Karen Gust, have owned ACE Hardware on 1727 Main St. since 1990. She bought the retail operation from them earlier this year and will open Kitchen Company days before the 27th anniversary of her family business.
“When I left for college, I didn’t believe I would come back” to Longmont, she said. “But as you look around, it’s hard to find a place like this. It’s cool to see it’s evolution.”
Efforts to revitalize downtown really began coming out of the Great Recession, said Kimberlee McKee, executive director of the Longmont Downtown Development Authority (LDDA), when numerous store fronts were empty.
A number of grants were created to attract businesses, a master plan was revised and a major renovation of the road and alleyways undertaken.
“It’s really helping getting that critical mass of shopping that has been a desire of the community for a very long time,” McKee said. “Women’s clothing in particular has been such a void, we’re thrilled to see an influx of folks looking to put retail downtown.”
All of it has paid off. Retail vacancy rates are around 1 percent in the area, down from 6 percent in 2011 when the recession led to empty storefronts.. Office vacancies are at 4.5 percent, down from 19 percent six years ago. Available spaces aren’t sitting around long; McKee said they are spoken for soon after tenants leave.
Among the retail vacancies is 449 Main St., which until a few months ago was Happy Bakeshop. The Miller’s Music building was snapped up four months after that enterprise closed. Rockin’ Robin’s took over for Mountain States Thrift Store and Longmont Bicycle took over for The Brew .
The summer is looking to be especially promising for Main Street as roadwork wraps up. McKee said work from 3rd to 6th will be done by Friday. The next phase, from 6th to 9th, should take the next two weeks. With construction crews out of the way, McKee said the new downtown will really begin to shine.
“We built a downtown that our residents really desired,” she said. Our identity is just really starting to be seen. It’s a Main Street that’s a true Main Street, but one that is coming up with the progressive times.”
Ivy Rose owner Rosemary Girard Bieker learned 502-A was available from the DDA. The stylist and personal shopper moved to town two years ago and right away saw the need for a fashion boutique.
“We really need something cool, hip and fun for all women,” she said. “It’s time Longmont has what everybody else has.”
The store will be adjacent to another women’s clothing offering, SNOW Apparel. The store will feature made-in-America and fair trade clothing, accessories and gifts. A grand opening is scheduled for Sept. 1, according to the store’s Facebook page. Business owner Snow White did not respond to a request for comment.
A third clothing option, Rockin’ Robin’s, has been up and running for about a month. The vintage consignment shop relocated from its longtime home in Niwot, bringing with it inventory from the shuttered Candy’s Vintage Clothing and Costumes in Boulder.
“We’re excited to be here,” said store co-manager Amanda Crazy Bear. “We love the whole downtown and how it’s building up.”
Fellow manager Angela Wilke said Longmont residents and business owners have been stopping by to say hello and wish them well. “Everyone has been very welcoming.”
Chris Salt and Kristie Shevin, co-owners of Longmont Bicycle Company, echoed that, saying they felt very supported by their neighboring retailers. The partners had contemplated buying the now-closed Bike-N-Hike but decided the community would be better served by having a licensed dealer (Trek and Felt are their brands), and a full-service shop for maintenance and repairs downtown. The space will also have a coffee shop, opening in the next few weeks.
“Everyone here wants to see the business district and Main Street elevated,” Shevin said. “It’s exciting to be a part of it and get in at what feels like a good time.”