Revamped Colorado Ave. welcomes shoppers, drivers

Liz Ferguson, right, points out Quilters’ Corner to her daughter Lindsay Huslig as the two shop along Colorado Avenue Friday. City officials celebrated the completion of the street’s reconstruction project with a ribbon cutting Friday

Only two dim streetlights lit the south side of the 400 block when owner Bill Keith moved Quilters’ Corner into 421 Colorado Ave.

Customers who frequented the store when it was on Main Street had only to walk south instead of north from the parking lot to reach Quilters’ Corner after the move. But for some, the change seemed like the difference between night and day.

“Customers were worried because Colorado Avenue was a dark street,” Keith said.

Today, the street is lined with light posts, sculptures and fresh landscaping and has wider, more numerous crosswalks and new pavement.

The Colorado Avenue renovation took nearly a year, and it proved a hardship for some of the business owners who saw fewer store patrons while the street in front of their stores was torn up, limiting access.

But its completion earlier this year is having the desired effect. The street is more accessible for pedestrians and drivers, Keith said, and it has helped bring in more window-shoppers during the day and at night.

Traffic lights at the Fourth and Fifth street intersections were removed and replaced by stop signs, which has made a big difference, Keith said.

“I’ve heard people say they’d rather travel on Colorado than Main because there are fewer stop lights on our street,” he said.

While some shop owners say the increased foot and tire traffic has helped business, many stores on Colorado rely on a loyal customer base. The remodeled stretch of the road, from Second Street to Seventh Street, is home to specialty stores for needs such as printing, automotive services, vacuum and sewing machine repair, shoe repair and nurse uniforms.

There also are long-term-stay hotels, a boxing gym,  and a mattress store.

Nurses Uniforms and Shoes owner Marie Wohlfahrt said the handful of browsing-friendly stores on Colorado probably see more new customers than she does at 441 Colorado Ave.

“We’re a specialty store, so for us there hasn’t been much change,” Wohlfahrt said, adding she’s still pleased with the project.

Still, businesses that cater to a particular clientele can get traffic from window shoppers. Rose Widegren, a clerk at Horn O’ Plenty, 429 Colorado Ave., said the health food store gets a lot of its business from people shopping at other stores on the street and migrating to her shop.

Brad Stewart, owner of Bicycle Outfitters at 431 Colorado Ave., said loyal customers kept coming in during construction but more new customers have popped up this spring.

“More people are coming in and saying ‘We didn’t even know you were here,’ ” Stewart said.

Judy Rogan, co-owner of Today’s Home Furniture and Design, 437 Colorado Ave., said the street’s reconstruction provided an incentive to open the store on Colorado Avenue in January. She has received warm feedback on the remodel from customers.

“They’ve just said what an improvement it has made,” Rogan said.


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