RIDGWAY – The landscape of Ridgway’s downtown business district is about to see a major shift as Southwest Spirit Antiques & Appraisal moves out of the retail space it has occupied for the past two decades at 631 Sherman Street, and Willow Creek Floral moves in.
After nearly 20 years of having a storefront in Ridgway, Southwest Spirit proprietors John and Debra Ver Straete say they have had enough of the retail side of their business.
They will carry on with restorations and appraisals, and will have a showroom in their workshop which can be visited by appointment. They will also continue to sell antiques on the web – which has comprised about 50 percent of their business over the years – and are negotiating with other antique dealers from the Montrose area to carry their products as well.
“We’re not closing,” John said, “but we are reorganizing our business.” While their showroom was busy for years, more recently the brick-and-mortar aspect of their antique business has slowed down, due to the recession.
Not so for Willow Creek Floral down the street, where business has been booming thanks to all the weddings in the area. The shop is bursting at the seams at its current tucked-away location down the street at 257 Sherman Street (near the Uncompahgre River and erstwhile Doghouse Restaurant).
Not long after the Ver Straetes put a “For Rent” sign on their building, Willow Creek proprietors Ed and Judy Folga approached them about moving into the space, which gets better foot traffic and has plenty of room to spread out.
“It was a win-win situation for both of us,” John Ver Straete said.
Southwest Spirit is in the process of moving out, as Willow Creek moves in. The transition will be complete by Sept. 1. In the meantime, Ver Straete said, he has a heck of a moving sale going on.
Once the Folgas are settled in, they look forward to having more space to spread out with components of their business that up until now have had no room to grow.
“It will still be flower shop, but we will expand our aspen log furniture and home decor, and the wedding gallery will be much larger,” Judy said. “We do 80 weddings a year now. So it’ll give us more breathing space and elbow room.”
She loves the new location, “right on the street – the visibility is just huge. We have no walk-by traffic in our current location,” she explained. “It’s so far off the road people can’t see our window displays. It will be fun to set up a new place.”
While Willow Creek Floral is a Ridgway-based business, its happy customers come from all over the region, including the Telluride area.
“We have done the Town of Mountain Village’s outdoor Christmas decorations for the past 10 years,” Judy noted. “We have done the Peaks for Christmas, Hotel Madeline ... we have a lot of business clients in Telluride and a lot of homes as well.”
But weddings continue to be Willow Creek’s bread and butter, and, Judy confesses, her favorite thing in the world to do.
She loves getting to know the brides-to-be and their moms, many of whom have become good friends over the 13 years she’s been in business.
“The girls always tease me, when I give the bride her bouquet, I cry,” she confessed. “The hours of time I put into each wedding, it’s unbelievable.”
But no matter what the occasion – whether it’s a wedding, prom, birthday, anniversary, or even a death – Folga reflected, being in the flower business means sharing a little bit of beauty and joy with the world.
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