OCCA hopes for parade of shoppers
Stovall seeks unity with local groups in third year as merchants’ president

       An ever-optimistic Nancy Stovall is looking forward to the year ahead for Old Colorado City merchants.
       A merchant herself - owner of the Pine Creek Art Gallery - she is also in her third year as president of the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) merchants group and second year as its paid executive director.
       “I continually see improvements in Old Colorado City,” Stovall said in a recent interview, pointing as an example to the reduction in storefront vacancies over the winter. “I try to keep a positive view that it's going to get better for everyone.”
       OCCA, consisting of about 60 businesses, is in its 24th year.
       A main goal for 2005 is to strengthen cooperative efforts with groups that have similar interests, such as the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS), Old Colorado City Security & Maintenance District, Old Colorado City Branch Library and the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN).
       As an example, she noted that OCCA has been providing input to the district in planning new streetlights (currently being installed) and upgraded landscaping. “It's important we work together,” she said, “because what happens in these three blocks (24th to 27th streets) affects all of us.”
       Through the year, OCCA will sponsor numerous events, including the neighborhood-oriented Easter Egg Hunt in Bancroft Park Saturday, March 26, and the regionally popular Territory Days over Memorial Day weekend.
       Trying to directly help merchants' business, OCCA coordinated with the city to get free parking on Saturdays before Christmas and fought with City Parks (although unsuccessfully) to reduce this year's heavy use of Bancroft Park on summer Saturdays for crafters' fairs.
       Another area where OCCA has been active is advertising and marketing. “We're trying to get the information out on Old Colorado City,” Stovall said, “that we're a unique experience, not like shopping at chain stores in the malls.”
       A vivid indication of this promotional effort - as well as the joint-effort strategy - was visible at the St. Patrick's Day Parade Saturday, March 12, in which OCCA had an entry “for the first time in quite a while,” Stovall pointed out. Dressed in 1800s costumes, merchant representatives paraded with their counterparts from OCCHS and the library.
       From the merchants' standpoint, being in the parade also sent a message to visitors that “Old Colorado City welcomes them, rather than just being a location for the parade,” she said. In general, Old Town is open “not only for tourists, but for locals who haven't been here for a while or don't know where it is.”

Westside Pioneer article