Artisans Market’s nearly 40-year-run in Steamboat comes to a close
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Longtime business owner Jan Lomas stood behind the counter Monday at Artisans Market, welcoming customers as she contemplated what she will miss when her Steamboat Springs store closes later this month.
“I enjoyed just meeting the artists and meeting the reps that I worked with over the years,” Lomas said. “I had wonderful relationships with the reps who would bring me new artists. I will also miss bonding with my customers and my regulars.”
Lomas said she got to know many locals and second homeowners through the years.
“I guess those are the things that are bittersweet to leave,” she said.
The banner hanging outside the store explains this is not a Going Out of Business sale as much as a retirement sale celebrating the nearly 40 years the store has served the community.
The Artisans Market opened as an artist co-op in a small space inside the Good New Building, which was located where Steamboat Ski and Bike Kare is now on Lincoln Avenue, 38 years ago last June.
“It was a wonderful place for a lot of people who like to do arts and crafts, but never had an outlet for them,” said Kay Wagner, who was one of the original members. “That’s kind of what the market was put together to do.”
The market, and its 27 members, then moved into the former Harbor Hotel. Lomas started managing the co-op a few years later and eventually bought the business in 2001.
“I’m the chief cook and bottle washer,” Lomas said. “I do the accounting. I do the hiring, the training, the buying, the setting of the store. I also do the designing and deciding what comes in and what goes out.”
Normally, Lomas has four part-time employees to help her, but the coronavirus pandemic that shut her doors earlier this year, and forced most local businesses to adjust, changed a lot of that. She brought one employee back when the store reopened late in the spring and has reduced hours based on demand. The store is currently open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day until the end of October.
Lomas, who joined the co-op as a silk painter, moved into a managerial role a few years after the co-op first opened.
“She just turned it into a magic place,” Wagner said, “… and did very well with it for a long time.”
Lomas was able to use her connections from the art world to find new talent. She visited other markets when she traveled to other towns in Colorado, where she would talk to other store owners looking for unique, one-of-kind merchandise that would appeal to both local and out-of-town customers.
Her store also continued to highlight and launch talented local artists, including Wagner, Jean Olson, Carrie Wren and Denise Bohart Brown.
“I really enjoyed the friendships that I made with the artists that I got to work with,” Lomas said. “I took some pride in being able to bring young artists along and teach them how to be in business and how to price their product.”
These days, Lomas is still surrounded by the artwork, but during the next few weeks, the items that fill the shelves and the fixtures will start to disappear. The doors will close a final time Oct. 31. Lomas said she had planned to close the doors prior to the pandemic but said the virus just extended the process.
“We put a lot of things on sale throughout the summer, and that brought people in,” Lomas said. “Over Labor Day weekend, we went to the 50%-off storewide, and that has made us just crazy through September and October, which is good.”
In the next few weeks, Lomas is hoping to reduce most of her inventory. The remaining stock will be boxed up and sold online, but Lomas is hoping to avoid the extra work and start enjoying her retirement.
“I’m not moving anywhere. We are staying right here,” Lomas said. She and her husband Mike, who will continue to work as the general manager at The Steamboat Grand, will continue to reside in Steamboat. “Running a retail store is physically demanding. … People told me I would know when it was time to retire.”
In November, Lomas said she will head to the hospital to have surgery on both her shoulders, which she injured while working at the store. She is also hoping to have a little extra time to spend with her six-month-old granddaughter, Evelyn.
“I think (Artisans Market) will be missed because it had a variety that a lot of other stores don’t have with all the handmade goods,” Wagner said. “People like handmade things, and I think that was the sterling quality of the Artisans Market.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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The iconic cone-shaped building on the corner of Yampa and 11th streets in downtown Steamboat Springs was once a wood-waste burner before being moved to become the home for Sore Saddle Cyclery and Moots Bicycles.