by Larry Patrick
WALSENBURG- You can take a walk down memory lane six days a week in Walsenburg. Antique Avenue was started nearly 2 years ago by Marianne Smithey. She copied the blueprint being used by Martie Henderson at her stores in downtown Walsenburg by allowing ladies wanting to get a start in business to lease booth space in her store. Marianne began by being a vendor in Marti’s stores and then decided to go out on her own, which is what the concept is about. First, she bought the building owned by Juan Vigil, who had Family Furniture, then she bought one of the three Main Street buildings owned by Martie Henderson. She set one building up as Antique Avenue and the other as Boutique Boulevard. They’re located at 609 and 611 Main Street.
As you enter either store, you have a roadway to various vendors on each side of the aisle. It makes for a unique walk down memory lane in Antique Avenue because many of the vendors have their own antique memories that can draw peoples interest and attention. Boutique Boulevard on the other hand, is a collection of up-to-date jewelry, pottery, books, gifts, lotions, leatherworks, art and other unique items.
Marianne said she went into business in Walsenburg because she and her husband wanted to invest in the community. They could see the potential that Walsenburg offered. Her husband, Chuck, has worked in the Walsenburg school system as an assistant principal, athletic director, football coach and teacher through this past year. They bought a home outside Walsenburg and are enjoying the country living. They have children and grandchildren here too.
Marianne and Chuck Smithey are not new to business. They owned a restaurant for 7 years in Cannon Beach, Oregon. It is a tourist community and they had to budget for the slow times of the year, just like in Walsenburg. They then moved to Kansas where Chuck coached and taught for a few years. They love the mountains and the scenery that this area affords them. It’s where they want to retire. Chuck recently chose to leave the Walsenburg school system to become athletic director and assistant principal at Rocky Ford. He will be hoping gas prices come down in his daily travels.
Marianne, like many business people locally, has had her trials and tribulations. The nature of the two stores means that vendors will come and go. Several have left to set up their own stores in Walsenburg, which is satisfying to all concerned. Smithey knows that it takes time to grow a business and she is where she wants to be. Smithey appreciates the tourist trade but knows the local trade is very important. She thanks all of those in the local area that has shopped her stores. Marianne prides herself in offering friendly and helpful service and also likes to be a source of information about the area for tourists.
If you would like to start up a business or want to get more exposure for a business you already have, you can contact Marianne Smithey at Antique Avenue or Boutique Boulevard at 738-2393. The great thing is that you don’t have to be in the store everyday as people share time working a schedule that fits their lifestyle.
The next time you want to take a walk down memory lane, don’t watch an old movie or TV show. Go to Antique Avenue and Boutique Boulevard and see the many items we all used to have and remember. Even though the prices may be a bit more for them than when they were new years ago, you’ll find everything in the store reasonably priced to fit most anyone’s budget. We can’t live in the past, but visiting it once in a while or buying something from the past that gave us fond memories, can be priceless. That’s what the Smithey’s business is all about.