The electric buffer whirled on the hardwood floors in the storefront window at the Manitou Arts Center as Jeff Tarbert held on and made his plans.
The owner of the Colorado Running Company, Tarbert is a sharp businessman. It’s a requirement in the quirky and fast-moving world of running specialty stores. When he found the space available at 513 Manitou Ave., he didn’t hesitate to jump in.
Hitting the kill switch on the buffer, he described his vision for CRC’s new store.
“We support the mountain running community, so I had to figure a way in my mind to support that base of customers we have and excite new people,” Tarbert said. “And the best way I could figure out to do it was to come up with retail space in Manitou. And this is it.”
Colorado Running Company manager John O’Neil said the Manitou store could open as early as this weekend. Tarbert said he doesn’t know if he’ll keep it open year-round, but does plan to capture the business of Incline climbers, as well as the runners who ply the local trails each day.
“It’ll be kind of a pop-up store for now,” he says.
Customers will find Colorado Running Company’s braded gear, plus Colorado-themed items, as well as anything a hiker or runner may need, including nutritional products, hydration packs and other accessories including shoes, though he doesn’t have plans for a “full-blown shoe-fitting process.” CRC is also looking at renting running shoes to Incline users, or anyone who wants to try the latest in running footwear.
The store will be staffed with local runners who know the local trails and the rigors of the Incline.
The original Colorado Running Company opened in 2000 on N. Tejon St. It moved to the University Center Colorado (UVC) shopping center in 2014. The Manitou location is really in the experimental stages.
“We only have a one-year lease, so we have a year to figure it out.”
The new store should also generate new interest in running among residents and visitors who have never given it a second thought. The Manitou Arts Center houses a gallery and artist studios and hosts multiple events each month. Tarbert has already stirred up interest among the artists who see opportunity in runner T-shirt designs, as well as the chance to artistically explore the beauty and grace found in trail and mountain running.
“The whole idea is to increase the awareness of mountain and trail running like we do at the existing store,” he says.
The lease includes the use of the Manitou Arts Center parking lot on two weekeds. Tarbert said he’s looking at hosting running expo-type events, perhaps this summer.
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