Popovich chosen to replace Barnett at MainStreet Steamboat helm
Steamboat Springs — MainStreet Steamboat has named former Steamboat resident Lisa Popovich to succeed retiring Tracy Barnett as manager of the nonprofit that has brought cohesion and a very successful farmers market to the city’s historic downtown shopping district.
Popovich, who worked as front desk manager at Mountain Resorts and at the former All That Jazz in the early 1990s, brings a deep understanding of the community, Barnett said, paired with broad experience in national retailing.
“She’s been trying to get back to Steamboat ever since,” Barnett said. “She’s got years of retail experience at rue21, Eddie Bauer, Nautica and Petco. And she gets downtown Steamboat, she gets retail and she gets marketing.”
Kathy Stokes, who served on the executive search committee that selected Popovich, said she made an immediate impression as soon as she walked in the room.
“You can feel her excitement, and her enthusiasm for this position is contagious,” Stokes said. “We asked her the types of things she would do and she was full of ideas for individual stores. But it’s not just her retail experience. It’s how to grow not just your own businesses, but how to work together so that’s happening for everybody.”
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Popovich said Thursday that although she has learned what’s required to succeed in retail through opening new stores across the country and getting them on their feet, the essential skills and attitudes of her work were lessons she picked up in Steamboat. And she credits the character of Steamboat for helping her to know how to “move through the world.”
“There’s really a different way of approaching retail and customer service today, and it’s funny that I learned how to do that here in Steamboat 20 years ago,” Popovich said. “Living here informed my whole life. When people walk into a store they want to know they are going to be taken care of.”
One of her most interesting experiences was helping former ESPN anchor Dan Patrick select his wardrobe while working at a men’s store in West Hartford, Connecticut. From that, and from working at stores from TJMAXX to rue21, she learned that retail employees can create instant makeovers for people from all walks of life.
To succeed in Steamboat she said, store employees have to know how to relate to anyone, from millionaires to fellow seasonal employees. And it’s especially important to make a new store feel like the hottest place in town to attract both customers and effective employees.
“When I went to work at All That Jazz, I thought I knew how to sell,” she said. “But I learned a lot from (store owner) Joe Kboudi. He really taught me how to sell.”
Barnett said Popovich will soon begin working with MainStreet’s design committee to put together a retail panel that will make presentations, likely in October. In the meantime, Barnett, who is retiring to travel with husband, Cooper, in their motorhome, said she’s not going anywhere fast.
“I’ll be here in some capacity through December, even if it’s just 10 hours a week to catch (Popovich) up on Main Street’s databases.” Barnett said.
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