Local Shops Ready for the Holidays

After taking hits from Covid-19, supply chain, local shops ready for business-as-usual

Luke Zarzecki
lzarzecki@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 12/6/21

For Chuck and Anita Adam of Northglenn’s 2nd Time Sports, football helmets have always been one consistent item they’ve been able to count on – until 2021 and national supply chain problems. …

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Local Shops Ready for the Holidays

After taking hits from Covid-19, supply chain, local shops ready for business-as-usual

Posted

For Chuck and Anita Adam of Northglenn’s 2nd Time Sports, football helmets have always been one consistent item they’ve been able to count on – until 2021 and national supply chain problems.

This year, football helmets almost sank the nine-year-old store.

Every year, the Adams sell football helmets to local high school players before the fall season begins and rhythm is pretty standard: Parents preorder custom helmets for the year, the Adams order them and the kids play football. Everyone is happy.

“We see kids that are really good kids that could get (athletic) scholarships to college if they could afford the training,” Anita said.

Unlike Amazon and other online stores, Chuck can fit a player perfectly for whatever equipment they may need. The Mom and Pop sports equipment store sells new and used sporting equipment for golf, skiing, snowboarding, lacrosse, soccer, hockey, baseball, softball, football, basketball and volleyball. 

“Nobody else does what I do,” Chuck said. “When you walk out the door, you’re right.”

But in 2021, all the helmets they ordered for the season came after the season was finished, thanks to supply chain issues. The shipping delay forced the Adams to hand out used, temporary helmets until the new ones arrived – which they did, after the season ended.

The parents all got refunds.

It was devastating for the Adams, coming off of an already tough 2020. On top of the Coronavirus and the pandemic shutdown that followed, the Adams also endured a breast cancer fight, a quadruple bypass surgery, a bank account hack and a turbulent move.

2nd Time Sports is not the only business to have harsh times after a turbulent year. They, and other local shop owners, are hoping for a busy holiday season to help stay in the black.

Not fancy

Profits have not come easy for the Adams and their sporting goods store.

“We’re not fancy, we’re not pretty, we’re not Dicks,” Chuck said.

They typically work seven days per week and did not start paying themselves a decent salary until two years ago. They only recently began paying for health insurance.

“We’re in our early 60s. We have no choice. You know, we put all of our eggs in this basket. We have to make it work,” Anita said.

Still, they are still fighting and do not hesitate to use some elbow grease. With their heat-press, Anita can make uniforms, tee-shirts, polos and decorated apparel for teams or corporate events. And when people stuck at home began looking for safe ways to get outdoors, they began stocking paddleboards to make up for the lack of team sports apparel. 

“If I was retired, I’d be doing this,” Anita said. “We don’t go to work hating our jobs.”

Staying afloat

Northglenn’s Kid to Kid, which allows parents to trade in old clothes and buy new outfits for their children, should be perfectly insulated from supply-chain issues. 

Local parents have come to rely on the shop for good quality clothing.

“Kids are really expensive,” said Miki Hokey, the operating manager at Kid to Kid. “We make sure that parents are getting great things at great prices, their kids are dressed well and for a really good deal.”

Roughly 70 percent of the store’s inventory is used clothing, with only 30 percent new stuff that depends on deliveries. Even so, 2021 has been a challenge as some companies have been six to eight months late with deliveries. 

The locally owned and operated Northglenn store opened in 2017, one of four to join the national chain. During the beginning of the pandemic, Kid to Kid closed for two months, fulfilling online orders for curbside pickup. 

“That’s kind of how we stayed afloat,” Hokey said. 

For the holiday season, parents can buy equipment like swings, clothes and toys for their kids. 

Knowledge on top

Like many small businesses, Northglenn’s Quirky Brewery Supply relies on local service to stay a step ahead.

“We add a level of expertise that you just don’t get when you’re shopping online,’” said long-time employee Phil Goodwin. “You can’t have that 15-minute conversation with Amazon about `well, how do I use this?’ or `what’s the right temperature to use this?’ or `can you give me any tips on avoiding this from happening.”

Customers looking to make wine, kombucha, cider, mead or beer can rely on Quirky for guidance and materials. They provide over 300 varieties of grain, 160 different hops and equipment to help any self-starter.

Supply chain issues have raised some prices on the higher-end products, such as calculators, equipment and glasses. To stay competitive with online retailers, Quirky will match any online price before shipping. 

Thankfully for the store, brewing products are just part of their package. Knowledge – what to do with those products – are big parts of what Goodwin and Tom Kennedy, another full-time employee, offer.

“Between Tom and I, I think we both started brewing before we were at the legal age to even drink,” Goodwin said. 

But home and first-time brewers are not their only customers, he said.

“I would say comfortably on a week to week basis at least 10 to 15 (breweries within the Denver area) and then beyond that, I mean even some of the larger breweries – Avery Odell, New Belgium– they’ve hit us up for just little things,” Goodwin said. “A month ago, we were having 10 to 20 people a day that we were walking through the process... here’s how you pitch yeast, here’s how you add nutrients, here’s how long it takes.”

The hard work has shown off. Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine ranked Quirky in the top ten of Homebrew Retailers for 2021.

Inspiration

Next spring, May 2022 to be precise, will mark Becky Silver’s 12th year of owning her own art studio.

“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to draw,” she said. 

Becky moved to Westminster in the 1970s and has been involved with the local art community for 40 years. An artist herself, her journey with art started early. 

She was inspired as a child by her grandfather Merlin Enabnit, a successful commercial artist who drew pin-up models during World War II. He also made commercial art for Miller, Coca Cola and others and was commissioned to do portraits of the leaders of the United Nations. He also taught at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. 

Her Westminster gallery supports art from high schoolers, teaches classes in watercolor and mixed media, provides a space for other teachers and sells artwork to the community. 

She also hosts weddings and performances in the garden behind her building. 

The pandemic closed her gallery for about two months. She reopened to teaching classes in her garden, and then slowly re-opened to full steam. However, the business only returned to about 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels.  

It features work from artists all across the Denver area. Mediums include paint, jewelry, wood, glass, weaving, sculpture and photography. 

Beer for the community

As the sole owner of Westminster’s Kokopelli Beer Company, Christine Wares knows what it’s like to be a woman in an industry dominated by men.

She receives so much support from the community. She notes that both males and females come to her restaurant because they heard it was women-owned. Some admit regrets to her. 

“I get a lot of support from other women that wish that they would have done it, that they would have done something to make a difference and open up other doors for other women,” she said. 

Coming from a background in telecommunications, she opened her restaurant and brewpub in 2009.

Wares did not pay herself from March 2020 until July 2021. Instead, she forfeited any profit and redirected those funds to her workers. 

She shut down the restaurant for the required months during the pandemic, increased seating outside, asked staff to wear masks and followed other directions in an effort to stop COVID. 

Shutting down a restaurant often means no cash flow to any of the workers. However, Wares made sure her workers received pay. 

“We cleaned floors for hours and painted walls and replaced damaged things just to keep money coming in for them,” she said. 

Now, her revenue has reached pre-pandemic levels, when it was “flying.” However, the cost of labor has gone up so profit is not the same. 

Yet, she soldiers on. 

All her food is made from local ingredients and serves 27 of her own beers on tap. Most recently, she created a beer for a member of the Westminster Police Department due to his fight with cancer. 

For her success, she thanks the local community. 

“If it wasn’t for the community, we wouldn’t exist,” Wares said. 

That old dude

James Pierce, an owner of JNJ Comic Books and Games in Thornton, grew up with a comic book store close by. As a kid, he visited the store to buy new books and made friends through his passion.

The store not only sold comics but formed a small community. An older man who worked there would talk to the group of kids about the backstories of the comics and the characters to help them better understand the books. 

“Now I get to be that old dude,” he said.

He and his wife Jamie opened their store after she was laid off from Hewlett-Packard in 2010. James works as a software engineer full time and comes into the store at night. Jamie works full-time at the store and considers it her baby. 

With about 80,000 comics from James’ personal collection and about 10,000 boxes of Dungeons and Dragons trinkets, 85 percent of the store’s beginning inventory came from years of saving and collecting. 

“I’m giving comics that I’m not going to be able to get to read again to people who are,” James said. 

Not only do they sell comic books and games, but they also host game nights. Getting to know their clientele is one of the most rewarding parts of their business. 

“As a Mom and Pop shop, you have a small client and we get to know each of our customers.” 

Rewards come from hard work, and their work ethic is fueled by the enjoyment of running the business. 

“We’re never gonna get rich but it’s more about being rich in doing something that a lot of people haven’t done, and I love the hobby. I love the overall geek culture,” James said. 

Both note that the history of comic books and `geek culture’ is primarily male-dominated. Now, about one-third of their clients are women. Jamie notes that having a woman at the front desk helps.

“I think being a woman here, (women) are gonna feel a lot more comfortable coming because, when I went to a lot of comic book stores, they would look at me like, `what are you doing here?’” Jamie said.

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