Downtown pop-up shop selling diverse holiday gifts

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Amy Stretmater doesn’t waste time.

She went to a craft show the day she arrived after moving to Colorado Springs from Chicago in September. A few weeks later she had a lease signed and now she has a pop-up holiday shop at 224 N. Tejon St.

Her Koru & Company features items from her own business – jewelry, purses, wallets and other funky gift items made from recycled goods like seatbelts from Indiana and South American nuts and seeds – and items from local artisans like sculptures, lotions and board games.

In Chicago, she was heavily involved in the Andersonville Galleria, a huge warehouse converted into little stalls where different artisans could sell their goods and shoppers paid at a common checkout stand.

“When I left, I thought, ‘hmmm—I wonder if I could make this work in Colorado Springs.’”

Stretmater graduated from Colorado College, so she knows the city.

When she landed, she decided she could make it work and scooped up a recently vacant spot on Tejon that already had wall slats and a counter.

She said she liked the idea of being close to Terra Verde.

“I love Terra Verde and I feel like people who like Terra Verde will probably like my stuff and vise versa,” Stremater said.

If she hadn’t opened the shop, she said she would just be working from home in her pajamas. She sells the imported items she features in her shop online and wholesale to stores around the country. Her downtown storefront is a good way to meet people and feel like she’s more a part of the community while also supporting other local artists and entrepreneurs.

Stretmater started her Koru Street business after a big life change. After she was laid off from her advertising job in Chicago, she took six months to travel the world before starting the job hunt again. Her journey began in New Zealand, where she learned the word Koru, the native Maori word for new life.

Everywhere she traveled, she found cool things and bought them as souvenirs. She never suspected a red and black polka dot wallet she bought in Indiana would lead to her new life. But when a friend commented on it a few minutes after Stretmater said she didn’t know what she’d do with her life, she had the answer.

She figured she’d sell things at street festivals through the summer and then look for a job. But two shops asked if she sold wholesale. She said yes and crafted a business plan over the weekend.

The shop is just a holiday pop-up shop and Stretmater has no plans to keep it open the rest of the year, she said.