Gift shop relocates to larger OCC storefront

       A Touch of Class recently completed its move to 2419 W. Colorado Ave.

With various displays visible in the background, John George (center) stands near the front of his recently relocated Touch of Class store at 2419 W. Colorado Ave., flanked by his helpful landlords, Glenn and Ruth Bjustrom.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Owned by John and JoAnn George, the gift shop is the new tenant in the 3,200-square-foot storefront where Pine Creek Gallery had been for nearly 20 years before closing after December. The Georges, who moved here from Kansas four years ago, had opened A Touch of Class initially two years ago at 2506A W. Colorado Ave.
       John chiefly runs the shop, which is open daily, with JoAnn helping out at times, he explained.
       The business offers a “variety of things,” as he put it- from water bottles to wind twisters, from cutting boards to crystals, from stuffed animals to souvenirs - with prices between $2 and $200. A buyer from 60 to 70 companies around the country, he said this week that 20 percent of his inventory is not yet on display.
       The Georges had previously owned a gift shop in Kansas. Part of what drew them to Colorado Springs was the scenery (as well as John having 14 cousins who live here). In looking for a store location, the Georges narrowed it down to Manitou or Old Colorado City, finally picking the latter because “we decided the area fit the store, and the store fit the area,” he said.
       The greater space at the new location particularly allows more aisle width. In the old store, “I tried to keep it at 36 inches, but that's tough with double strollers,” he said. He's providing up to four-foot aisle widths at the 2419 location.
       One of the pleasures the Georges have encountered at the new site is their landlords, Glenn and Ruth Bjustrom (pronounced Bee-OO-strum). They have owned the building since 1995. John George asked to have them included in a Westside Pioneer interview because he said they have been so helpful in getting the store set up. This includes their son Ben installing new slat walls throughout the store, which allow products to be easily hung and then moved to different levels or from side to side.
       In turn, Glenn complimented John for doing a good job displaying his wares. Glenn also had a joke that he couldn't resist sharing with the shop owner: In a book on Old Colorado City history, he found that the town's first saloon in 1860 was in the present-day 2400 block, owned by a man named… John George. The present-day John George laughed and said he was pretty sure the man was no relation.

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