(Related Front Page Story)
Although the contemporary word ‘holiday’ grew out of ‘holy day’, Christmas need not necessarily be associated with religious beliefs. As someone whose paternal and maternal family ancestry is of German origin, Christmas, at least in part, is a celebration with roots in Germany.
The decorated evergreen tree, a symbol of life persisting through the long, cold winter, and many of the songs associated with Christmas originated in Germany. It is quite probable that the image of Santa Claus evolved from a legend about a man who became known as Saint Nicholas. He lived long ago in Europe, wore a red coat and delivered gifts to the poor.
When I was growing up, Christmas was often about the only time our little family of four was able to be together. My father traveled the world due to his chosen profession, but he always came home for Christmas. So for my family, when I was a child, gifts were not the main reason to celebrate. It was so exciting to welcome my father home for the holidays. I recall a number of trips to the airport on Christmas Eve to pick him up as he arrived from some far away place.
Gifts, though, are fun to give. And they don’t have to be expensive high tech or glittery pricey jewelry either!
One year, long ago, my brother, already a young adult, bought nose masks for us all. How we laughed and cracked each other up with antics inspired by these goofy masks that fit on the end of one’s nose!
So, this year, give ‘shop small’ new meaning! Check out the local retailers here in Teller County and Manitou Springs. Consider letting your creative side, your inner child, be your guide in shopping for the special people in your life.
No crowded malls, no eye fatigue from perusing web-sites, just good old fashioned small businesses with unique and often one of a kind merchandise.
Perhaps the beginning of a trend worth noting; Nordstrom, a very large department store chain, opted to remain closed on Thanksgiving Day and would not be putting up holiday decorations in their stores until after Thanksgiving. Hooray!
So, now that we’ve all stuffed ourselves and can be thankful that we live in the good ‘ol U. S. of A. let’s go out and spend a little money at the numerous shops in the Pikes Peak region.
After all the late summer rains and floods this past summer forced multiple closures of Hwy 24, our local retailers are especially glad to welcome shoppers in search of gifts for friends and family.
To get you in the spirit of the season, listed below are just a few of the places to shop and events to attend up here in the Pikes Peak region.
To get to Cripple Creek, take the scenic drive up Highway 67 from Highway 24 in Divide, or from Florissant, take Teller County Road 1, a much easier drive that will also get you up to Cripple Creek. Both routes are just 18 miles long, and the roads are in good shape thanks to a lot of work over the summer by CDOT and Teller County road crews.
Shop owners on Bennett Ave. are hosting a Holiday Open House this weekend on Saturday Dec. 7.
Maudie’s General Store-Shop owner Lois Woods likes to say, “If you can’t find it here, you didn’t need it anyway!” This small store, sandwiched between JP McGills and Midnight Rose casinos, is stocked with an enormous selection of merchandise including contemporary stylish clothing, Southwestern and Indian made silver jewelry, knick knacks, stocking stuffers and much more. The shop will be having drawings for discounts. And refreshments will be on hand as well.
Creations Everlasting-Now located with its own street entrance in the Double Eagle Casino, Edy not only stocks ladies apparel, jewelry and merchandise suitable for gift giving, the store also boasts a tea room. Edy makes wonderful desserts like Blackberry Cobbler from scratch. She also has an enormous selection of teas, and soft drinks are available as well. Creations Everlasting offers a warm and cozy place to sit and relax after shopping.
The following shops are located in a two block stretch of Bennett Ave. just up the street from Johnny Nolon’s Casino and across from the Colorado Grande Casino.
Cripple Creek Candy & Variety-Proprietors Lou and Pat Goldman make all of the delicious candy on site and they also have a great selection of gifts and stocking stuffers, very affordably priced. Need a stocking to put them in? The shop offers a quick and easy way to personalize a stocking. Everything, including the stocking is right there, quick and easy to do!
Hitchin’ Post- Proprietor Timothy M. Braun and his wife offer a wide selection of merchandise suitable for gift giving. The shop also features locally made Cripple Creek Bath & Body lotions and soaps, as well as fragrances for aroma therapy.
The store also features Hot Cocoa Mix from a company based in Boulder, Colorado. And with over 20 flavors, this would make a great stocking stuffer or small gift of appreciation for friends and business associates.
And Braun is a published author, with signed copies of his books for sale at the Hitchin’ Post. One is titled “The Contest” and is a detective thriller. Braun’s other literary effort, “When the Angels Cry” considers the question of miracle or coincidence and is currently under consideration as a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie.
Gold Miner’s Daughter-The slogan here is, “If it’s bling, we have it!” Look for lots of sparkle in the way of home décor and accessories with a decidedly feminine flair. The shop also features clothing for women and children.
Cheshire Cat- This newly opened shop offers a 20 percent discount to all Colorado residents. There are some restrictions, but this is a phenomenal price break offered exclusively to locals. The shop features many unique items including beautiful handmade sweaters, silk pajamas in jewel tone colors, jewelry and Caribbean cigars!
9494- This shop promises “Gifts with altitude” and the store is named in honor of the 9494 ft. elevation in Cripple Creek. The shop offers an eclectic selection of merchandise suitable for gift giving including elaborately beaded Mary Frances handbags and Holly Yashi jewelry.
Looking for something whimsical for the foodie on your list? 9494 boasts a large selection of cookie cutters in a variety of unique shapes including a moose, a cowboy boot and the iconic donkey which represents those living ancestors from the mining boom in Cripple Creek.
Silver Mine- Located adjoining 9494, this store offers an extensive collection of framed fine art and photographs, many by Colorado artists and photographers. Here you’ll also find collectibles including Native American jewelry and artifacts.
Maudie’s Mall- This two story shop boasts an enormous selection of collectibles, antiques and vintage clothing including feather boas, and fur and faux fur coats all in like new condition.
The store also has a bakery, and all baked goods are made from scratch on the premises. Fresh bread, doughnuts, pastries and Belgian Waffles with toppings galore, are all available to tempt hungry shoppers.
And from now until Christmas, Maudie’s Mall is offering a store wide 10 percent discount to all shoppers.
Nana’s Nook- Located in the historic Elks building on the corner of Bennett Ave. near the Double Eagle Hotel & Casino, Proprietress Vera refers to her store as a boutique for top quality unique children’s clothing. Sizes in stock for girls are 0-3 up to 12 and for boys 0-3 and up to 7. She also carries Precious Moments Dolls and Bearington Bears in addition to a selection of books for young children.
Events in Cripple Creek include a melodrama presented by the Thin Air Theater Company at the Butte Theater on E. Bennett Ave. just across the street from Park and Recreation and the Aspen Mine Center.
This year’s presentation, “The Christmas Blaze,” runs from Nov. 29 to Dec. 29. Show times are Thursday through Saturday at 7:00 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday there is a matinee performance at 1:00 p.m. For reservations and information visit ButteTheater.com or call 719-689-3247 or 877-689-6402.
On Saturday, Dec. 7, come celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Lighter Side of Christmas Parade. This year’s theme is “That’s All Folks!” The parade starts at 6:00p.m.
And Woodland Park invites people to “Elevate and Celebrate the Season!” Visit www.LighterSideOfChristmas.com for all the events of the season in this bustling mountain town.
When shopping for the people on your gift list, Woodland Park offers a bounty of small shops stocked with an astounding array of merchandise suitable for gift giving.
While one can no longer pull up and park right on Midland Avenue as in years past, there is ample side street parking. And a large parking lot can be found behind the stores near The Cowhand located on the north side of Midland Avenue.
The Cowhand- This store, located on Midland Avenue in the historic red building, with the life size horse statue, has been a retail icon in Woodland Park since 1965. The store stocks all things Western; from jeans and Cowboy shirts, to horsehair belts and a terrific selection of Native American jewelry and home décor and accessories. Merry Jo Larsen and her family have worked continuously for 48 years to provide the citizens of Teller County the products and goods they need to live the mountain and ranching lifestyle.
Do you or someone you love need a pair of Cowboy boots? The Cowhand stocks an entire roomful of styles to choose from. Good quality slippers are available as well, some by Justin, the well known boot manufacturer. And plenty of sizes are available, too!
Cowbells- This store, located on Midland Avenue as well, boasts two floors of merchandise including handmade furniture suitable for any mountain home, and accessories such as table lamps and sculptures.
And on Saturday, Dec. 7, Cowbells will be offering samplings of the specialty foods available for purchase. Try before you buy!
Here, too, you’ll be able to see the legendary Deer Snake. This creation has been the subject of media attention, and is something akin to the “Jackalope” found in Wyoming.
Vintage Vines- While primarily a consignment store for new and nearly new women’s clothing, the shop also boasts unique and locally crafted jewelry. Hand knitted berets and hats, suitable for the fashion conscious woman who would like to stay warm, are also available.
For children, Vintage Vines has a coloring page contest for children 10 years old and younger. Stop by the store to pick up a copy of “Christmasaurus Rex,” ready to be colored in. Contestants have until Dec. 20 to turn in their creations at the store.
Brenda’s Boutique- This shop has the luxury of its own parking lot. And the boutique is like no other! Here you’ll find décor for the home, nearly new clothing; or consider a Tesla Lamp! They are an intriguing tribute to the famed Nicola Tesla and are crafted by a local resident.
Could a lady on your list make use of a pair of “Texting Gloves?” These are lovely fleece or knitted gloves suitable for keeping delicate feminine hands warm while leaving manicured fingertips free for sending a message to friends or family.
Kitchen & Homebrew- Located in the Safeway shopping center, this is the place to find gifts for the person who loves to cook and bake. As the name suggests, shoppers will find just about anything a well equipped kitchen would need. Everything from cookware, top quality German made knives, pottery, deep fryers, and cookbooks to an enormous selection of top quality kitchen gadgets is available here.
Nowadays, with the increasing interest people have in quality food, organic and non-GMO fruits and vegetables and meal preparation, the store can assist in outfitting a kitchen with the items needed to make home cooking easy and fun.
In addition, as the name implies, Kitchen & Homebrew can supply the home brewer or wine maker with equipment, supplies and instructions.
Mountain Naturals- Formerly located in the Hackman House, Mountain Naturals Community Market revels in it’s new, much larger location just off Hwy 67 and only a mile or so north of downtown Woodland Park.
There is an absolutely phenomenal selection of crafted goods by local artisans, and organic foods from local residents and other Colorado companies.
Consider greenhouse grown Cayenne Peppers from Florissant. These are dried and strung, and what could be more festive than these bright red peppers still sporting their green stems and strung Southwestern style in a foot long garland. Cayenne pepper as used in cooking, has well established health benefits as well.
Another local resident creates beautiful, feather light, fine guage crocheted necklaces that provide a big splash of color and bling for the holidays. There is a veritable rainbow of colors to choose from.
There are also hand painted glass Christmas ornaments, created by Native Americans; a truly unique collectible decoration for the evergreen in the living room or wreath on the front door.
Beautiful cards, too, with stunning and creative photographs or artwork prints. One that caught my eye featured a close up of a single evergreen branch with two classic round glass ornaments, all dusted with fresh snow.
For a Holiday movie, consider Lunch and a Movie Matinee at Gold Hill Square Theaters and Tapas Grill on Sunday Dec. 8.
At any time throughout the year, when you go to a movie at Gold Hill Square Theater, Mtn. Scoops, just steps away, has a deal for you! Just present your theater ticket stub and receive a 50 cent discount on ice cream or gelato, and you may take your frozen treat into the theater with you. Mtn. Scoops also has a loyalty program with a punch card, and you get double punches when it’s raining, snowing or the temperature outside dips below 30 degrees!
The long awaited cinematic debut of “The Hobbit” opens on Dec. 13. Call 719-687-3555 or visit www.goldhilltheaters.com.
Ancestral Arts- Joe Kane, proprietor and craftsman at this small shop next to Venture Foods, features Colorado made and Native American made jewelry and accessories. He also crafts quality leather products, such as medicine bags and sheaths on-site. Most of the merchandise at Ancestral Arts is priced under $20.00, and with a purchase of $20.00 or more, customers receive a free necklace.
Divide Mercantile- Located next to Venture Foods, this consignment store is a very popular place to shop for home décor, accessories and furniture. The merchandise changes almost on a daily basis due to the quality and reasonable pricing. Just shop for someone special with an open mind, and you are sure to find a suitable gift.
With the opening of the new ice skating rink on the afternoon of Saturday Dec. 14, the shops in Victor should all be open for business. Be sure to check out the new kid on the block, Prospector’s Pick. Marigold Mercantile is also a great old fashioned variety store…Remember the Ben Franklin store in Woodland Park?
Victor Trading Company- In business for many, many years, the Victor Trading Company has surely achieved icon status. This store features not only on-site handmade brooms, including hearth brooms, the store also sells vintage cards printed at the store with an old fashioned Lithograph press.
Is there a pagan or wicken on your gift list? Picture an old fashioned beautiful, smiling witch, clothed only in the traditional conical hat, riding on a broom; tastefully printed on a quality T-shirt!
Gallery 80860- Here you’ll find beautifully framed scenic photographs and artwork suitable for the living room wall. Custom matting and framing for your own treasured artwork is available as well.
Gold Camp Bakery- Having lived in Germany as a child, I can tell you, the delectable fragrance of fresh baked bread, cookies, cakes and pastries wafting in the air as you enter this eatery positively transports you right over to just about any small town in Germany. Gold Camp Bakery can offer you all sorts of treats suitable for the Holidays or any time of year. Buy a piece of “Beesting” cake and a cup of coffee to savor at a sunny window side table here and you will experience a taste of Europe found nowhere else in the Pikes Peak region. Sandwiches and hot lunch specials are also available.
Sue’s Fortune Club- Located just opposite the Victor Lowell Thomas Museum, the Fortune Club will be featuring a Banana Split Special on the afternoon of Saturday, Dec. 7 to help celebrate the opening of the new skating rink just a few blocks away.
Be sure to see the related article, “Been to Victor Lately?” chronicling Victor Winter Events, also in this issue of TMJ.
In researching this article, I was truly impressed with the variety of gift possibilities available at local businesses in the small towns up here in Teller County.
There are many more small businesses in Woodland Park and the surrounding area that would love to help you select the perfect gifts for the friends and family and business associates on your Christmas list.
I spent a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon shopping in Woodland Park on Small Business Saturday. I received the attention and knowledgeable advice from people dedicated to providing quality merchandise, and much of it made right here in Teller County and elsewhere in Colorado.
Merry Christmas everyone…and I still hold out hope for peace on earth, another sentiment often expressed at Christmas time.