50 members strong, HDM moves into 2nd year

       A little over a year after it started, the Historic District Merchants of Old Colorado City (HDM) has close to 50 members, is finalizing promotional plans for 2011 and is nearing publication of its second annual shopping guide/walking map.

Inside her store (Bernideen's), Bernideen Canfield, the current director of the Historic District Merchants of Old Colorado City, holds the group's first shopping guide, printed last year.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The group formed in late fall 2009 and expanded through 2010 in keeping with the idea that daytime businesses in the historic shopping district between 24th and 27th streets - particularly those in retail - need more focused representation.
       This contrasts with the broader scope of the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA), an older business group that welcomes nightclubs and which, earlier in 2009, had defined its area as basically from the Near Westside to Manitou Springs. Other philosophical disagreements have arisen as well, but in recent interviews HDM leaders Nancy Stovall and Bernideen Canfield (both past presidents of OCCA) said they would prefer to focus on positive steps the newer group is taking to enhance the overall business climate in Old Colorado City.
       “We want to distinguish ourselves as three blocks only,” Canfield said. “We're here to network together, to draw people to Old Colorado City, to support one another and pursue customers.”
       Although “merchant” is part of the name, the HDM from its inception has welcomed participation from any Old Town businesses that are open during the day, Canfield explained. “We impact them, and they impact us.”
       She is the HDM's director in 2011. Stovall, who closed her 19-year Pine Creek Creek Gallery in December to focus on Internet art sales, will stay on as the HDM's part-time paid administrator. Other board members are Kathy Read (assistant director), Judy Kasten (treasurer), Michelle Duncan and John George.
       Financially, the HDM has less clout than the OCCA, which is especially fueled by the big Territory Days festival each year and which also puts on the well-attended Ice on the Avenue, Old Town Showdown and Christmas in Old Colorado City events/promotions. But in the past year the HDM created two events of its own (a historically geared “Discovery Junction” tied in with Territory Days and a “sock hop” the night before the local car clubs' annual Old Colorado City Car Show), took over the fall Scarecrow Days when the OCCA decided to go in a different direction at that time of the year and organized numerous sales promotions with and for its members.
       This spring, according to Stovall and Canfield, the HDM will publish this year's shopping guide. It lists Old Colorado City businesses along with a map showing the streets, parking lots and store locations. The guide is similar to one OCCA formerly published and made available (at no small expense) in various upscale locations as a way of attracting people to the district. The HDM guide is mainly disseminated by being placed in shoppers' bags when they buy things at member stores, Canfield said.
       For 2011, the HDM plans a few changes. Discovery Junction, which didn't attract a significant portion of the Territory Days crowd, won't be back. But the Sock Hop, which drew more than 100 people (many in '50s “costumes”) despite minimal advertising, may be expanded, Canfield said.
       The group will also continue to sponsor Scarecrow Days, help support the monthly (April-December) Art Walks, offer promotions for different holidays and possibly have some event during Christmas season, Stovall said.
       “We're trying to help the merchants,” she said, when asked about the reasons for the HDM's first-year success. “They're supporting us because they believe in the same things we believe in.”

Westside Pioneer article