Tejon Street stores are getting credit for being on the cutting edge of a new wave of retailing – small shops with easy parking near restaurants and entertainment venues, according to a new book on shopping in Colorado.
“They really have come full circle,” said Judie Schwartz, author of “A Fashion Lover’s Guide to the Best Shopping in Denver and Beyond.”
“In Denver, they are tearing down malls – enclosed shopping malls are becoming dinosaurs – and creating shopping areas with small stores that you can pull right up to and park,” she said. “And Colorado Springs already has that. It just amazed us. We were so captivated by it.”
Schwartz and co-author Evalinda Urman know stores and shopping – the two shop for a living, writing a fashion column for the Rocky Mountain News that is also syndicated to 400 Scripps-Howard newspapers.
“We’re the Click and Clack of shopping,” Schwartz said. “We’ve been shopping buddies for years. Denver’s come of age, shopping wise, so we decided to do this book. When we went to Colorado Springs, it was just a revelation. All the stores are locally owned boutiques, and they all have such savvy buyers – you won’t see yourself coming and going if you shop at these places.”
The stores that were highlighted in the book – and given a green light for customer service as well as selection – were Saboz, Terra Verde, Regina’s Unique Boutique, Kirk and Hill, Mt. Tejon, Puttogether, Colorado Co-op, Idoru and Couture.
The group of stores is planning a book signing from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at Kirk and Hill, and Saboz.
“These aren’t chains,” Schwartz said. “They had brands we had never seen. At Saboz, they had a brand of shoe that is just now being carried by Nordstrom’s. We visited on just a glorious day, and with the mountains so close – it’s a perfect setting. These stores had fabulous merchandise and incredible customer service.”
The book awarded “hidden gem” awards to shops that do not receive the recognition that larger chains get, Schwartz said. Every shop on Tejon Street won the award.
“We also went to three shops at the Broadmoor, but they weren’t as exceptional as the shops on Tejon,” she said.
“A Fashion Lover’s Guide to the Best Shopping in Denver and Beyond” is available at Barnes and Noble bookstores.
In addition to the chapter about Colorado Springs, the book also features chapters about Denver, Castle Rock, Parker, Evergreen, Boulder, Vail and Edwards. Readers will get tips about sales, shopping for tall, plus and petite sizes, as well as men’s and children’s shopping. There are even tips for people who hate to shop, Schwartz said.
Being highlighted in the book was a wonderful surprise, said Jackie Gunn, owner of Kirk and Hill.
“So often, people don’t realize how wonderful downtown Colorado Springs is,” she said. “And these women came in from Denver and saw that we really do have a wonderful downtown. The recognition is great.”
Retail surveys show mixed results on consumer behavior for the holiday shopping season – with one painting a merry picture of sales, and another portraying consumers as this year’s Grinch.
The National Retail Federation revised its October holiday sales forecast upward and believes sales in November and December will increase 6 percent from last year, to a total of $439.53 billion.
The largest retail association cites healthy economic indicators, such as higher-than-expected October retail sales and falling gasoline prices as reasons for the revision. Previously, NRF forecast a 5 percent sales gain. This marks the first time the federation changed its forecast during a holiday season.
“Recent consumer spending has surpassed our expectations and we expect this momentum to continue through the holiday season,” said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin in a news release announcing the revision. “Though our forecast remains cautious, we are confident that the holiday sales increase will be better than we originally anticipated.”
Other consumer surveys show that sales will decrease moderately during the holiday shopping season. According to The Conference Board survey, sales will decrease – with consumers spending an average of $466 on holiday gifts, lowering the overall sales for the season.
This survey of holiday gift spending intentions covers a nationally representative sample of 5,000 households. It was conducted for The Conference Board in November by TNS, the world’s largest custom research company.
“Consumers appear to have less Christmas spirit heading into Thanksgiving this year than last year,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “This cautious attitude will have consumers shopping for bargains this season. Retailers will need to offer discounts and promotions to get shoppers into their stores.”
The top holiday spenders, according to The Conference Board Report, will be New England households (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont) who intend to spend $568. The lowest holiday spending will be in the East South Central (Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi) and West South Central (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas) regions, where households expect to spend $423. Both these regions were hard hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Slightly more than 32 percent of all households will spend $500 or more on holiday gifts, with 37 percent spending $200-$500 and the remaining 30 percent planning to spend less than $200.
Amy Gillentine covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.