End of an era
When a Main Street fixture like Page-Parsons Jewelers decides it’s time to close up shop, it’s hard not to fixate on the implications.
Clearly the local economy isn’t conducive for sales of non-essential goods and services. It’s hard to be in the bling business when most families are simply trying to make ends meet. But Peggy Page said a stagnant economy wasn’t the driving force behind her decision to close the shop.
It was more of a personal decision and Page conveyed a sense of peace about ending her family’s 52-year association with downtown Grand Junction.
“It is what I want, and it’s what I need to do,” she said. “We had a wonderful run.”
Still, when one of the city’s best-branded small businesses throws in the towel, it’s natural to reflect on a changing retail landscape. Downtown Grand Junction has evolved with its ascent as a tourist destination. You don’t go to Main Street to fill a prescription or buy a hammer anymore. You go for ambience, for boutique items, for coffee, an evening dining experience or an event at The Avalon.
Yet, the majority of businesses on Main Street are still living in a 9-to-5 paradigm. Strolling down our city’s signature street after dark is a somber experience. It’s difficult to even window shop as many businesses choose to turn the lights off.
For some businesses that cater to out-of-town visitors, this is a missed opportunity.
In Durango, for example, businesses stay open into the evening to take advantage of foot traffic. You go to Durango to play during the day, then have a meal and explore the downtown area. That’s when people buy the proverbial T-shirt and trinkets or wander into a gallery and discover something they can’t live without.
Grand Junction is still finding its footing in this regard. Downtown merchants know better than we do how to optimize their hours. And they have an organization, the Downtown Development Association, and a leader whose job is to set the table for thriving commerce.
There are a lot of exciting prospects on the horizon. Brandon Stam is the new DDA director tasked with shepherding several big-ticket development projects, including the development of the endcap of the Rood Avenue parking structure and the redevelopment of the former White Hall and R-5 High School properties and the historic train depot.
At the same time, the community is finally waking to the idea that outdoor recreation can be an economic driver. We’re surrounded by terrain fit for world-class adventuring.
Hopefully, as high-profile projects reshape the appearance and feel of downtown and outdoor recreation-related tourism bring more people to the business district, we’ll see an awakening of evening activity in downtown businesses.
It’s sad to see Page-Parsons go. But the nature of progress is change. If we can see some vibrancy in downtown Grand Junction after normal business hours, we’ll know that we’re changing our economic circumstances for the better.