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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Florence, Colorado: Does Your Town Have An Unofficial Canine Mascot?

Does your town have an unofficial canine town mascot?

Well it should. In Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado, having our mascot, Molly, is rather like having a town therapy dog.

Almost every day, Molly comes into all the antiques shops (about 20) and other businesses, just to say hello.

People stop her on the street, too, and give her lots of love.

That's Molly, a six-year-old, Lab mix, getting a petting.

I usually give Molly some wicked good belly rubs. But what she really likes when she comes in the antiques mall where I work is seaweed. Yes, organic roasted seaweed. 

I love watching her face when she recognizes the "seaweed" lady and dashes to get her treat. You'd think all dogs would love seaweed, but mine does not.

But this is my dog, Phineas. Yes, in real life. That's not a stock picture. It's him dressed as a devil. He's so finicky that seaweed is beneath him. And he makes me go to Costco to get his favorite brand of dog biscuits, since nothing else will do.

Molly will eat anything (healthy of course) and is always grateful.

And don't tell anyone, but I feed all the dogs (after getting their owner's permission) that come into the antiques mall.

You can imagine Phineas' face when I come home from work and he finds out I've been "cheating" on him all day at work.

Florence, Colorado: Good Place To Buy A Gift For Your Friend With A Castle

I have nothing against big box stores, but there are things that happen in small, independent stores (especially antiques stores) that just won't happen anywhere else.

We're always chatting with our customers at the old antiques mall in Florence, because all the unusual things people buy just beg inquiries as to why they are buying it.

Today Dan Williams of Cripple Creek was thrilled to find this iron hanging candle fixture. He said it will look perfect in his friend's castle.

Castle? Ohhh, I love castles.

Dan said his friend built a castle outside of Cripple Creek and when the friend was asked why he chose a castle instead of a log cabin or other style, the friend replied,"Because I can."

I asked if this was a Christmas gift for the friend with the castle.

Dan said it was and the friend already told him that he had found Dan a special Christmas gift. Dan said he replied to his friend,"Then you must have come to Florence."

That's what we like to hear, the immediate assumption that if someone found a special treasure, they must have found it in Florence, and friends each coming to Florence to find those extraordinarily unusual gifts.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Florence,Colorado: Scary Nightmare Fuel Antiques & Collectibles

Florence is the undisputed antiques capital of Colorado. We have more antique stores per capita than any other town in the state. And the town boasts stunning world-class antiques, collectibles and art. But sometimes it's fun to take a tour of the nightmare fuel items that could surely be used to decorate a set of a Stephen King movie.

This is a paper mache dog from the Victorian era. Someone got a little festive for the holidays and put some tinsel in his fur. But it still scared the beejeezus out of me (and many antiques browsers). It turns out he is rare and a child's toy--and not many of them survived. The dogs, not the children. I'm pretty sure most of the children survived their childhoods, since this was only a toy a rich family could afford. However, I won't speak to how they survived psychologically.

Now this imp also scares many browsers. I've heard rumors that Doctors Freud and Spock built their careers on attempting to undo the damage some of these toys had on previous generations.

Now this dude's tongue moves. So does mine, in a silent scream, whenever I take this out of the locked case and show him to customers. He's fashioned as a mask/hat--so you can wear him. New Year's masquerade ball anyone? Criminal disguise? Someone actually told me the other day they were sending their significant other to the store and hoped this item would be their Christmas gift. If someone gifted me with this beauty--well, it wouldn't be an amicable breakup...

Oh my. Vintage sombrero-wearing salt and pepper shakers. Besides how "attractive" they are--when you pop their hats off, the raised shakers rather look like brain matter. I think I'll purchase these as part of my weight loss program.

And if I really want to take off the pounds, I could purchase these clown salt and pepper shakers. The spices come through holes in their feet--which is extra appealing.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Florence,Colorado: Has The Town Gone To The Dogs?

Folks often come into the antiques mall where I work, in Florence--the antiques capital of Colorado--and ask if the mall is dog friendly.

I always point to the water dish we keep and the box of biscuits (all natural of course) on the counter. And I usually reply,"We've never had problems with canines entering the mall...but now humans, that's an entirely different story!" And that is true. Ah, the stories I could tell. Wait, I do tell the stories.

Now I haven't done a poll about how pet friendly Florence is, but word on the streets is that all leashed dogs are welcome in the antique, gift and art stores--except one, where the aisles are a bit narrow. You know, those wagging tails...

Most dogs that take a tour of Florence's antiques are pretty amazed at all the ancient smells and are pretty subdued. And most owners carry their pooches through the stores, even though I tell them it's just fine to let them walk around. Ya shoulda seen the guy trying to carry his St. Bernard through the mall until I told him to put his dog on the floor...

Why even Florence's dentist, located on Main St. in the heart of the antiques district, has set out some water and Milk Bones. And a nice potted plant. Nice touch with the BITE wing x-rays offer.

Antiques and canines mix in Florence.

I'd say we are probably one of the most pet friendly towns in the state.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

A Kindness Story--I'm Not Too Worried About The Younger Generation

I'm not too worried about the younger generation. Today I pulled up at the gas station that has a free air machine.

I saw a young man, perhaps age 11 or so, filling the air in his bicycle tires. I turned off my engine and waited. I couldn't be sure, but it seemed he rushed when he saw I was waiting.

Now this young man, and I do mean man, had no idea that as an older woman--it's been several decades since I've put air in my tires. I am not helpless, but was feeling a bit of anxiety with my squishy tires and not remembering how to put air in tires.

I attempted to put air in the first tire and had totally forgotten about the young man. But he was at a distance watching me, apparently. He yelled, "Do you need some help?"

I told him, embarrassingly enough, I probably did. No matter how I positioned the thing, no air seemed to be getting in.

He assessed the situation and asked me if I had a tire gauge, since the air machine didn't have one. I said no. He said he'd be glad to run into the gas station and buy one. I was so stunned that a stranger would offer that. I told him I would do it. I walked a few yards, turned around and asked, "What is your favorite snack?" It was his turn to be stunned. He hesitated for a moment. Now, sadly, in today's age--even though I am decent with everyone, especially animals and children,  it's strange for a stranger adult to buy candy for a child. That's why I intentionally used the word: Snack.

That wasn't why he hesitated though. He was just surprised someone wanted to return a kindness.

"Skittles," he said, when I made clear by my facial expression I wanted to show appreciation.

I got the gauge and the Skittles.

He thanked me profusely for the Skittles and I said,"You are a kind man, a kind young man, and you deserve Skittles and much more in this life."

He got busy filling my tire to the exact correct pressure, and gently instructed me on how it all worked. It came back to me, and I was confident I could do the other tire, even though he kept asking if I had another tire that needed air.

I told him I think I remembered now. But this young man took off, but stayed close enough on his bike to make sure I got it. And I had forgotten my glasses, and couldn't read the gauge anyway. So, it turns out I did need his help again.

I was pretty embarrassed, but this young man showed no impatience or even a hint of contempt that someone would forget their glasses and forget about tire gauges and such. He said the second tire has almost zero air and was happy when he got it exactly right, once again.

He complimented my car. I asked him what kind of car he would have someday, when he could. "A Toyota. I like Toyotas!"

He was still on his bike watching me, eating his Skittles, as I pulled away. "Thanks again for the Skittles!"

"No, thank YOU."

This kid has a servant's heart. He was so thrilled to get the tire pressure just right. I'll probably never see this kid again--but I imagine he will grow up and be a huge asset to his employer. And if he decides to be a family man--an even bigger asset to the world.

No, where there is such kindness, delight in helping others and doing a thing right--I am not too worried about the younger generation.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Florence, Colorado: Paint The Town With Plenty Of Air

Most everyone knows about the Florence Arts Council, Paint The Town event.

It's also called the Plein Air Art Festival. And some of the most talented artists roam the streets of Florence and surrounding areas and paint under pressure with plenty of aire, as I like to say.

But what you might not know is that I heard a rumor today from one of the town's painters that he was coming back tomorrow to paint our front window at the antiques mall.

I wondered why. We always try to do an interesting window that either gives people a chuckle or a happy feeling. Why you ask? Because we can. And because we are naughty minxes that like to entertain ourselves.

The artist said he would paint from outside and not sit in the window to paint. Actually I would have enjoyed seeing that. We could act all French (like plein aire) and pretend the artist in the window was like one of those cool animated department store windows I saw when I was in Paris.

I still couldn't figure out why anyone would want to paint our front window. Then I remembered, with horror and shame, that I had slipped a sign in the window that I found in one of our dealer's booths.

Pictured below. Don't hate me. But come on, admit it, you'll want to go to the Bell Tower Cultural Center and see the artist's rendering of this little naughty minx travesty I committed so long ago that I forgot about it.

Why People Need Small-town America & How To Promote It For Almost Free

In the last two blog posts, I recounted  the ways I've seen two small towns NOT promote their jewels of towns to the best advantage. So, now onto the silver lining. Why do people want to come to small-town America?

Since only about 20 percent of Americans live in rural areas and small towns, how do these towns with scant economic bases even let people know they are there?

First, why would people want to leave their larger hometowns and come to smaller towns? I can only go by what hundreds of people have told me and what I've overheard them say as they stroll the streets.

My favorite was hearing a man in his 20s say to his wife as they were pushing a stroller with their baby. "See, this is exactly what I needed. Exactly what I was talking about. Quiet streets. Peaceful."

Funny since men are sometimes not well known for  thinking it's always fun to stroll quiet streets lined with boutique shops, antique stores and quaint eateries.

My favorite thing about small-town America is all the apple orchards, pumpkin patches and you-pick berry fields and corn mazes. And being able to see baby goats and llamas and horses and even cows when running an errand. In the bigger cities those things are there, just harder to find. And the meadows and wide open spaces. Less crime. More time to talk to people in shops and restaurants because it's less crowded.

Heck, yeah! It's about joy. And apparently jumping the pumpkin. If I tried doing the splits over a pumpkin patch, I'm sure I'd slip my disco.

We need small-town America. And it's fun to talk to the people who grow the apples, pumpkins and other goodies. It's satisfying to talk to the people who harvested the honey you are buying or created the artwork or handcraft you are purchasing.

It's all about the story and connection. Sure, that happens in big cities, just in a different way and atmosphere. And the people I talk to want to hear the story behind what they are buying or seeing and meet the people behind it.

I've watched the tale of two small cities struggle with how to promote themselves on little to no budgets with personal issues in the mix.

And hundreds of people have told me they are a bit miffed they did not know about the second small city sooner and stumbled across it by accident.

People are always looking for a different experience and perspective even if they love the town they live it. It's almost a travesty that treasures often remain mostly hidden in small towns all across the country and wonderful businesses struggle.

One business owner told me that they have never made a profit in all the years they've been in business, because the people just don't know about the town. That it's not on the way to anywhere major and it's not a total tourist destination.

I say--enough of that.

There are people in tiny towns all across America who finally realized they just needed to keep doing what they were doing for decades, band together and tell the world about it. There are towns that were market towns for over a century and then someone came up with a twist and started an open air market or flea market that draws hundreds of thousands of people a year.

Build it and they will come. If they know about.

Here's some of the problems I've witnessed or heard about in my two small towns. No budget. People don't want change.  People can't agree on what to do.Egos. Power struggles. Not enough money for a full-time Chamber of Commerce or  visitor center person. Not enough money for advertising, signage, etc.

And here's some of the solutions I've either witnessed, heard people come up with or have come up with myself.

*People don't have to all agree on what the town will do--just a core group of people that don't let personality issues, egos or religious or political disagreements stop them from doing good on behalf of a whole town's health. Don't grow the town in size necessarily--grow it in events, festivals and showcasing of what is already there.

*Money should never be an issue. If there are not enough people to man the phones for a Chamber or visitor's center--tap into the high school or local college. Arrange for students to volunteer their time and talents for either credit at school or to bolster their future resumes. Tapping the Senior Centers and civic groups leads to reaping decades of wisdom and business acumen.

*Also tap into students to send out press releases and free calendar events to newspapers and magazines. Many students would jump at the chance to benefit their town if it would lead to increased business and help their families, or help them stay in town after graduation.

*Make your event or services your shops, businesses and eateries offer so compelling that the media comes to you. If you donate even a small portion to charity or a non-profit, media outlets are more inclined to do a story about the event or business.

*Think big in a small town. All someone can say is no. If you have something interesting happening--there is no reason not to contact travel magazines and lifestyle editors across the country. Their readers are often looking for some experiences that sometimes only a small town can offer.

*Find the right people in the town for the job. Pick someone (generally just one or two people) that are confident and come across well on camera. Local news station are often looking for a lively filler story on a slow news day about an event told by the spokesperson that speaks professionally and has a sense of humor. Then pick one person to field the print media--and have that person equipped with the correct information for the media, such as who to interview on each specific story. Have those people always be the contact people for the media, so they can build a relationship with the media and each side can call on the other when they either need a story or want to tell a story. If the contact people change, inform the media of that and introduce the new person in a brief email or phone call. It's all about relationships, even in bigger cities and the media.

*Come up with that fundraiser that will get the media's attention. People like feel-good stories to counteract all the serious news. Create a calendar or other salable item that promotes the event or cause that is humorous, heartwarming or interesting.

*The people that get publicity are usually the ones that ask for it. Either by asking directly or creating an event or item that draws positive attention. It's really that simple.

*There are many little-known ways to get free TV commercials that broadcast to many households by nominating businesses. The production people will come to you, for free. Others will charge, but keep playing the videos for free after the initial charge--and there are ways to get those videos shot economically and then promote them on social media and websites. And most high schools and colleges have video equipment and talented students looking for an opportunity to promote their town and own abilities.

*There are many lesser-known TV travel shows that are always accepting ideas for their crews to come film in off-the-beaten track locations.

*It's appropriate to present the positive things about one's town and/or event as a travel destination. But don't be alarmed if someone in the media asks about the negative things in the town's history or present. There needs to be a counterbalance in most every story. Those negative things (such as past injustices, power struggles, crime, corruption, economic downturns, water issues, crumbling infrastructure, etc.) can be used to show how a town righted wrongs or overcame challenges in a positive way.

*The core of many small towns is its agriculture. Farm to table and agri-tourism are the trendy words now. But it's what many small towns were founded on--and they don't need to change a thing, except getting cohesive on how they present. Have maps and brochures that list every winery,corn maze, alpaca farm, apiary, organic vegetable garden, etc. that are open to the public. Get those maps to every business, appropriate venue and visitors center, airport, train station, etc. across the state. Again tap into high school, college students and seniors and have them attend marketing seminars, symposiums and other related events with the maps and the STORY of their town.

It's all about the story. It's so simple. What story will small-town America tell about itself? Will it tell the story of whining about flower baskets--or will it tell the story of it's rich history, ethnic backgrounds, agriculture, festivals and fiercely independent small businesses? And will it use the diversity of its town--including seniors and students--to tell that story in such a compelling way that people can't help but notice.

Will the story, as old as America, be told of small towns pulling them up by their bootstraps--or descending into a maelstrom of pity and negativity?

You know which story I am rooting for that is told about small-town America!

p.s. AND get your town on social media! I have few followers, but within minutes of Tweeting these posts I had retweets and marketing and agriculture people following me on Twitter. When I asked one business owner, who was the one who initially asked for help, why most local business owners did not tweet, blog or Facebook much--I was told they were too busy running their business. Then get someone else to volunteer to do it.

AND in my opinion, every small town should have a community blog where people are invited to tell their STORIES about their businesses, events and what's special about their town and what it is like to live in rural America. I don't promote my blog (or myself) except with an occasional tweet and people still find it--the counter at the top left shows we are closing in on 100,000 hits. I've proven it. It's all about the story. Just tell it!

A Tale Of Two Cities: How NOT To Promote Small-Town America (Part 2)

Lesson one: Whine about who will water the damn flower baskets. Refer to Part 1 of this series.

The tale of the first city took many years to promote itself and almost blighted financial conditions to use the resources they already had.

Now I am in the second small-town.

We moved here by choice. I don't believe in moving to a town, big or small (by choice) and then whining one's arse off about all the shortcomings.

But I do believe in learning a few lessons.

Let me backtrack. In the ensuing years since leaving the first small town, I lived in very big towns. I did some freelance writing for a weekly newspaper, a monthly newspaper and also a few stories promoting businesses for a magazine in Colorado Springs. I then wrote some stories for a national magazine that had been in business for almost a hundred years.

Writing doesn't pay much. So, in between I worked at a print shop and then went onto selling antiques and collectibles online.

I then went on to work in two antiques shops and finally landed at a third one, where I am very happy. It's the best of both worlds. I am in a position to talk with people all day long and you'll see some of their amazing stories on this blog. I had no idea one could enjoy a microcosm of people from all over the world in an antiques shop. And remember, I don't like being part of the story. I like telling other people's stories. That's why it took me awhile to write this story about two cities, because it's personal.

I had NO intention of ever getting involved in helping a small town promote itself. A business owner in the second small town, where I live now, told me they were very frustrated with not being able to get the amount of people to the town that was needed to be sustainable. This person had no idea I knew a little about how to get free publicity or self-market what you already have and get people interested with little expense.

The former business owner told me much money had been spent on advertising and promotions to almost no avail--over a decade or so. The person held an "office" in an organization that promoted local business, but the infighting was bad.

I casually remarked I might be able to assist, for free, but refused to get involved in any meetings, positions or infighting. The person told me to type up a page about myself and they would present it to the people in charge. I did so.

The person came back and said people almost clapped when they found out someone, who basically wanted to remain anonymous and didn't want money or recognition and would assist in getting free publicity. I said great and waited to hear from the person in charge.

A few months passed and I heard nothing. Nada. So I asked how to proceed. I was told to go to a certain business, since the owner was the president of the organization. The now former business owner I was working with was at one time second in charge.

So I went to the business and introduced myself. The president was out of the shop. This business is now defunct, but even if it wasn't I would not give total details, because it is not my intention to shine the light on specific people. Just to learn lessons on how NOT to promote small-town America.

I spoke to the person's spouse and adult child. The spouse actually started screaming at me--for no reason I could tell--at first. The spouse actually almost had an emotional meltdown and her adult child finally got her out of the shop. But her last words to me were,"Just go rouge!" What, am I Sarah Palin, I thought.

Go rogue. Why would I want to go rogue when all I went to a local shop to ask what I could do for THEM--meaning the whole town and them as an individual business, to get tourists more acquainted with the area?

Well, it took me years to realize the spouse was probably SO frustrated with roadblocks and issues in the town, totally unknown to me--that it was blasted and dumped on me.

So, I talked to the adult child alone who told me they had a marketing degree. Great! I deferred to that expertise and asked to get me set up with some tasks. Press releases? Getting a data base for all media in a several-state area? Writing about their specific business? I was at their service. Let me have a go at it--and if it works, great. If I fail, no one would lose a penny and I would do all the work in my spare time.

The response was: People of my generation.... Well, people of my generation....

Huh? The implication basically was I was too old to realize what was hip and cool and of no use to market this town.

I don't have much of an ego--and can accept people' opinions. Then the conversation got down to one of the things that was REALLY bothering the person: There were no single opposite sex people in the dump of a town. Oooh!

OK, so far in our marketing travails in how to NOT promote small-town America we've learned:

#1 Whine about who waters the flower baskets
#2 Bring your own personal emotional issues into logical discussions on how to help 
EVERYONE promote the town

I decided to mostly forget this unpleasantness and just "go rogue" by blogging about small-town America.

I have no ulterior motives. I just share people's stories and an occasional business story. I find it interesting. And I don't get paid for it, so no one can suggest I am doing it for fame or money, since I don't mention my name.

The blog did attract the attention of a print magazine--even though I have to be tracked down since I am semi-anonymous and have pen names for ID's and emails. The story is still in the works as far as I know. A story about small-town America--the joys and challenges and business identity.

That got me to thinking that perhaps the town is interesting to others. The town was interesting to me, but I can amused by watching paint dry, so it was a nice possibility to think outside folks might find it worthy of a story.

But before the magazine took interest in our town, I made one other attempt to assist. I was at a meeting for a local festival. I asked someone in a position of power if there was a data base somewhere of all media-- online, radio, magazines, TV and newspapers. I was actually snarled at. Even after I volunteered to compile one. I recently found out (from the former person in charge) who didn't know me at the time, that there was indeed such a data base. Odd since I rarely see any mention of our small town events in the free calendar of events sections of newspapers or magazines.

I told the former person in charge who told me they had to fight for everything that I had given up on any of these ideas. I was told," Don't give up on your ideas. Just give up on some of the people."

My, that sounded like some compelling advice for life in general.

So, the third lesson learned in how NOT to promote small-town America is: #3 Make it so difficult on people that they will give up free ideas to promote a town and give up on most of the people fighting ANY ideas.

Well, let's fast forward some more. You've read this far and you might be thinking: This person is just a high-falluting so-and-so who comes across as an idiot and sets people off to snarling and yelling.

That occurred to me. So, I asked a person at that meeting (after the meeting in private) where I was snarled at over a data base--and the person said it was NOT me, that they had run into the same problem and to just do my own thing. And then I asked another person, who works with me and is actually involved in many of these meetings--same answer basically.

Well, I have a problem doing my own thing. That isn't the point of promoting the value and treasures of a town and the people in that town.

This all came to a head for me today. The things I am recounting about the second small town actually transpired over the past several years. And I never felt compelled to tell anyone, except a few close friends about what happened--with no names mentioned.

But today someone brought up to me that there was big internal struggle going on. One that involved "imploding" and things that might affect the town's visibility and future nominal prosperity.

I listened. I asked a few questions. Then someone else came in on the conversation (off the street) and told the same story. It's always pretty easy to see the truth in a matter when you hear basically the same story from different people (that you don't even know or only know vaguely) over a long period of time and the stories match up.

Very sad. Even though I don't attend  these various meetings, I've attended enough in the first small town (as a reporter) to understand the dynamics. Egos. Warring factions. People wanting no changes. Others wanting change. Personal issues and frustrations being dumped in the public square that should have no bearing on what is healthy for a small town--or a town of any size. Refer to lesson #2 in how NOT to promote a small town.

Maybe because I was closely involved, yet objective, in the last small town--I see the middle ground. Some people do not want big changes and developments in their small towns. Others want radical changes. Both sides war.

A former person in charge of promoting the town (the one who said it was a fight for everything) had the same attitude I do. Don't attempt to make a small town a big town. Just have festivals and cultural events that bring people into town to shop and enjoy life without all the headaches of increasing infrastructure.

Today was rough. All so unnecessary. So, I asked what I could do (behind the scenes) to simply promote what was already here. I was told to go to a certain place. I said that was fine and good--but just showcasing one jewel of the town was not enough. I wanted to promote the whole town; give the whole picture. I was told it will never happen. I know what they meant--you cannot get everyone on board. But what I am suggesting is NOT radical. It is simply getting mostly free publicity for what is already here. With little expense.

I won't give details of the people I have been talking to--so all the events here are true, but certain details vague so no one will be identified.

I was asked about a certain non-profit group that really showcases some world-class events, etc.--but isn't getting the people in the doors on most of the events.

Easy. Network. Find compatible groups (theater, music, art, literacy programs, concerts groups, etc.) and offer a certain amount of free tickets to that non-profit organization and they do the same. It fills the seats. And spouses or guests of the free-ticket recipients have to pay. OR just give away all free tickets to other reputable groups and offer them an opportunity to purchase refreshments, a fundraising cookbook or a calendar or some keepsake of the evening's entertainment. It really isn't difficult. Most people when given something free for a good cause are more than willing to purchase an item in appreciation and support.

This doesn't make a small town grow sizewise or bring in crime or make radical changes.

And how do you get the attention of the media? Do something unusual. Just sending out a press release that there will be a concert, a business event or art showing is great. But just say someone promoting a group of artists decided to do a calendar featuring the artist doing something unusual or funny or a bit sassy? The media will come to you.

Say you produce a group's calendar for a nominal expense (since presumably there are artists and photographers willing to donate their services) and sell them to supporters and all those people you offered free tickets to. You have paid for your expenses and probably made a profit. And if the calendar was amusing or whatever, some people in the media would hunt you down and ask why you dressed an artist in a suit of armor with a welding torch. And then you garnered yourself some free publicity. And you also earned a relationship with someone in the media that you can call or write for the next event, showing or festival. Priceless.

My first small town was known as the capital of (fill in the blank with the name of the crop) but hardly anyone outside the town or the canning industry knew about it. The second town is also known as the capital of something. But almost everyday I have to tell visitors that. They are stunned (and delighted) to find it out.

Lesson #4: Make it really hard for people to know the identity of the town. Have few to no signs. Make sure there are no t-shirts or totes for sale celebrating this fact.

Lesson #5: Make sure money is always used as the reason why things can't happen. Don't look for free publicity or come up with all-inclusive projects the town can come up with for publicity (such as calendars) that will pay for itself and garner free publicity.

And lesson #6. My favorite. Recently a person who just moved into the area asked about a certain long-running festival. I went to the window to get a poster for the event and on many of the events it did not have the address or specific times. I was embarrassed even though I have nothing to do with any of the events.

The person said,"Oh, so this thing is just a locals' thing. So as long as the locals know, they don't mind that us newcomers don't know?"

Good Lord! I was mortified. I told her that when I moved to town, I had the same problem.
There was an event we wished to attend, but could not find which park or location or time it was. Just the day. I told her to check the local newspapers. But of course there were no local newspapers for sale within close proximity.

Lesson #6 Assume that no one new moves to the area. Or that people are driving through town and see a poster and are interested, but have no clue how to get there if there is no address, incomplete addresses and/or no minimal directions.

I am sure there are many, many other ways to NOT promote small-town America. I'm just sticking to the main ones I've lived the past few decades in two different states.

And yes, it was negative. That pains me. I have a nickname among close friends: Pollyanna.

So, in the next installment--I'll come at this from a more positive viewpoint that feels more comfortable to me.

I'll cover WHY people tell me they even want to come to small towns, when almost "everything" they could want is in the big towns they live in. And maybe all the things I've heard people tell me will result in the way TO promote small town America.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Tale Of Two Cities: How NOT To Promote Small-town America (Part1)

I am not a marketing expert. But maybe I understand how it works--at least in some small American towns.

Most know that small towns are facing struggles to stay economically viable.

Let me start in the first of two small towns that I have lived in and got to know very well.

The first town was in California. The "other" California as I always called, it. The California in the Central Valley where it feels like your brains will be baked by noon. Where the pollution is high, not from smog, but from all the pesticides in  one of the largest agricultural sectors in the entire world.

A place that sometimes tied summer temperatures with Death Valley. I won't mention the name of the town. It would serve no purpose. But it was and is a real town of about 5,000 souls.

A river runs through the outskirts of the town. But the town itself was semi-unremarkable except for two things: Some of the most genuine people I'd ever met and also a crop that it led the state in producing. I won't mention the crop, because a quick web search would reveal there is only one town in US that is the capital or king of this crop.

Now the crop is a good one. Not as sexy as garlic in Gilroy. But close. A nice upscale crop that most everyone uses regularly.

I ended up in this town accidentally. I accidentally landed a job as a photographer and newspaper reporter. But I also sold ads when the adman was fired. I had no idea how to sell ads or layout ads, but I figured it out until I could talk the editor/owner into hiring him back. I also ran the subscription department when someone went out on maternity leave. Same thing. Didn't know how to do it--figured it out.

But I mainly wrote news stories.

My editor, who also owned the newspaper, was a remarkable woman. She was one of the first female editor/publishers in the country when she started in the 40s or 50s. She was my boss during the end of her career in the 1980s. She was a committed alcoholic, as were most of the people who worked there. It made for interesting times.

But that alcohol problem also gave me a unique advantage. Once the townspeople realized I was not a daytime drunk (or nighttime for that matter) and did not write with a "poison pen" as they put it--I was welcomed into most every aspect of the law enforcement, city government, the chamber of commerce and the merchants' worlds.

Today my workplace would have been considered hostile and toxic. It was. But the townspeople embraced me, a blundering idiot at first. Even the town judge called me into his chambers one day and kindly told me he could tell I did not understand legal terms. So he schooled me, so I could write about legal matters semi-convincingly.

If I made an honest mistake, everyone assumed it was just that, and told me the right information--politely. I paid them back by staying up late at night many times, until I got things just right. I owed the town that much and more.

Due to the actual newspaper being a total chaotic dump with NO swamp cooler, even in 100 degree plus summers--I spent most of my time in the town, getting to know what was going on.

This town had been failing economically for years. Decades.

The editor/owner used to have temper fits. She once fired me for no reason. The adman got my job back for me after weeks of convincing her. Then during another temper fit, she fired him. And though I filled in for him--it took me months to convince her to hire him back. But I did learn a bit about publicity, ads and marketing.

This town had very little industry, except agriculture. It was on I-5 but hardly anyone ventured past the truck stops or gas stations, into the town.

I used to hang out with the chamber of commerce office manager and then was invited to all the merchants' meetings. Like many American small towns, people were trying to figure out NOT how to get their town bigger--but how to attract tourists. Growing a town is great if there is diverse industry, but with that comes more infrastructure and budget concerns.

The owner of a local feed store came up with the idea of donating ALL the supplies and flower seeds to make hanging baskets to beautify the town. Like many small towns, it has a strip of grocery stores, gas stations and other solid businesses that cater to locals and people coming off the freeway. But the historical downtown with its theater and cuter shops was only three or four blocks long. Certainly not overwhelming to beautify with some flower baskets.

Remember, this was the mid to late 1980s. This was before that was the trend. Agritourism? Farm to table? Real efforts at historical preservation in small-town America? These concepts were barely coming to most people's consciousnesses.

I was only in my 20s, but I knew a good idea when I heard it. As I always told people: I don't have that many inborn talents, but my main talent is recognizing the talents and good ideas of others and I LOVE cheering them on.

Being in small-town journalism was the perfect fit for me. A great opportunity to recognize and champion the efforts of others, without being the center of attention.

I sat in that meeting and marveled at the feed store owner (who was barely making it financially) but was willing to donate all the supplies for the good of the town. The response? Someone whined,"Who will water all those baskets?"

I felt the air leave the room. Back then I was fairly shy and wouldn't have dreamed of being part of the story and responding," Are you stark raving mad? Take turns watering the damn baskets! Even though many days I work 12 to 15 hours covering all the meetings in town--I'll help, you damn ingrates!"

Well, that project died before it got off the ground.

Remember my alcoholic boss. Even though she was temperamental, she let me have my own column where I was able to write my own opinions. I did NOT mention the flower basket fiasco, but after that I did go on a slight crusade to get SOME people in town to realize they were sitting on a treasure and hiding their lights under a proverbial basket. I did it in a nice way.

After all this town has a crop that ships all over the world. But in an industrial capacity. Even though I did NOT use words like farm to table or agritourism, because those were not in common usage at the time, I wrote about those things. I suggested the town have a festival celebrating this crop. They did do that, but it turned into a locals-only party. It was fun, but did nothing to get the rest of the county or state to realize the amazing agriculture in this tiny, almost forgotten town.

There was only one business in town that was slightly ahead of its time and marketed its products in a appealing way. And one other business that I started working with to help them develop the genius they already had in their business.

I suggested this town celebrate and develop what they already had.

I eventually moved to Colorado and went back to big-town living for several decades. Flower baskets and people celebrating away and no one whining over who was going to water the free flower baskets.

I did check up on the little town, online, years later. And I'll be darned! They finally did it. But only after more businesses became boarded up, according to a friend of mine who drove through the town and was appalled. Yes, it took the threat of derelict boarded up buildings. But they finally came to the conclusion that people want and need good old-fashioned crops and products done up with a flourish and creativity and beauty.

For years they missed one of the essential reasons people will drive for miles to a small-town. It's not only the fresh agricultural products--it's stepping back into time to a simpler time. It's strolling the streets in relative peace and safety. It's getting back to most all of our roots. It's about seeing how other people live and thrive in a rural setting.

So, I learned how NOT to promote small-town America decades ago: Don't whine about the flower baskets.

Only about 20 percent of Americans live in rural areas or small towns. It's a dying proposition at times. But wherever there is a downside, a good side can emerge.

I was actually raised in New York  the first few years of my life and even MANY decades ago my mother (a native New Yorker) used to tell me there were many children who had never really seen a lawn or many trees. I didn't believe her as a kid, because we were living on Staten Island (considered the country or rural area of New York back then) and there were plenty of trees and lawns. But she was talking about Brooklyn where some of the other relatives lived. My mother was trying to teach me to be grateful and not think that if I took something for granted that kids a few miles away were as fortunate as I was.

Yes, some of my relatives lived in those squalid areas in Italian tenements around the turn of the century and beyond not seeing much of nature. They emerged, thankfully. But I guess it's in my DNA that even people decades ago were yearning for nature and the country.

Let's not let it die. Let's preserve it.

And after years of living in the big cities I returned again to a small town in another state. I briefly told the tale of one of the cities. What about the second city? Am I going to learn more lessons how NOT to promote a small American town? You bet.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Florence, Colorado: Florence High School, Here's A Happy & Sad Story

Ever hear a story that makes you happy and sad at the same time? I was at the antiques mall working today and a nice lady came in asking to post a flier in the window. We almost always say yes.

You will probably see the posters around town, boasting the logo of the Florence High School mascot. The Florence Huskies, of course.

I happen to have an affection for dogs of all types. But what I really have deep feelings for is a story about young (and older) people making a difference.

The flier reads: Help Fill The FHS (Florence High School) Pantry!

I asked what the FHS pantry was.

The lady with the flier, Stephanie Elkins (FHS class of '88) told me there was a number of FHS students in need, including some that had no running water in their homes.

My jaw literally dropped, as did a customer's, who was standing close by.

I asked if this tragic situation had been going on for along time.

Stephanie told me that she graduated in 1988 from FHS and the problem had been going on at least as long as she had been going to school in the late 80's.

She told us that the high school made sure all students who needed showers were able to do so, at the high school during certain times.

Stephanie also mentioned the drive to fill the FHS pantry is an important need to help fill the gap for students who need food items such as: Canned tuna or chicken, peanut butter and jelly, crackers, cereal, individual serving sizes of soups, pastas, fruits and such. In other words, food that doesn't need refrigeration or complicated cooking.

Another need is hygiene bags: Gallon-size zip bags, wash cloths, soap, travel-size lotion, shampoos and conditioners, socks, combs, brushes, toothpaste, toothbrushes and deodorant, etc.

What was so remarkable about this story, after I got over the surprise of need and the wonderful support of the high school, was at least one of the people behind this food and hygiene items drive.

Stephanie said the pantry program wasn't going as strongly as the need dictated and Stephanie's daughter became impassioned by making the drive a huge success.

What's remarkable is that Stephanie's daughter is a FHS freshman. Her name is Chloe Beauchamp and she is FHS class of 2021.

Now Chloe isn't the only freshman in her class behind this worthy cause. But it was her mother, who was out volunteering her time that I happened to run into.

Why is Chloe so moved to help her fellow classmates? An emphatic heart, according to her mother.

Stephanie told me a few other inspiring things about her daughter, but I think I should let someone else illuminate those details. After all, this is a story that the local media should pick up.

The flier also states the Rocky Mountain Sassenachs will be assisting the FHS freshman class. I looked up that group and found them on Twitter. It's an Outlander fan club.

Stephanie also told me the Florence Police Department found out about the pantry drive and got behind it. Yes, they did! Earlier today the FPD posted about the event on its Facebook page at:

In case you don't go to the FPD page, suffice it to say, folks can also drop off their donations at the Florence Police Department and city hall and both entities will make sure the students in need get those items.

But the main drop-off for the fill-the-pantry drive is at the Florence Chamber of Commerce at 116 N. Pikes Peak Ave. on Saturday, October 21 from 10 to 2. But donations are also accepted at the chamber office during regular business hours before Oct. 21.

I know Fremont County will come through. And I hope someone sends me a picture of the huge amount of donations, so I can post the picture here.

OK, we're going to do all we can to make sure all the students in need at FHS are taken care of.

And that gets the paws-up approval of our smiling Husky. You didn't know we had a smiling Husky around here. Tsk, tsk. You all should know I have a cute dog picture for EVERY occasion!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Florence,Colorado: Where's The Watch Party For Jane Fonda & Robert Redford Movie, Our Souls At Night?

Where the heck is the watch party for the new Jane Fonda and Robert Redford Netflix movie, Our Souls At Night?

We know the release date is Sept. 29 on Netflix, just a few weeks after the movie showed at the Venice Film Festival. Venice. Italy.

Just like Florence. But not Italy. Colorado. You know, the small burg where a good portion of the movie was filmed.

I happen to have Netflix and will be able to watch the highly anticipated movie quite easily, much as I watch Fonda and Tomlin's Frankie and Grace and many other good Netflix offerings.

But what about all the folks who are excited to see not only the movie, but to really watch and recognize scenes of their hometown, Florence?

A co-worker was interested to know that I had Netflix and got to mentioning that she did not. And to her knowledge, there was no watch party planned for Florence. Not at the Rialto Theater, which is raising money for renovations. And not at the Bell Tower Cultural Center, one of many locations in Florence where filming took place.

No where that either of us knew about--unless I volunteer my modest home. But what good would that do the town? Besides the fact a few folks could tour my house and see if I'm a hoarder or an antiques collector extraordinaire? I'll let you guess. The person who guesses most closely will either win a box of chenille pipe stems, glitter and other crap--or a fine antique.

No, I was shocked, shocked I say--that there is no watch party for Our Souls At Night in Florence.

Surely I am not the only local that recognizes that Redford and Fonda are strolling in front of Two Sisters, well known by about everyone in Fremont County and the scene of many a delicious, lip-smacking, down-home eating experiences pretty much only available in the recesses of smalltown America.

For heavens sake, Jane and Robert, (I guess I can get familiar with them and use first names) since they both spent a whole day decompressing and taking breaks in the antiques mall where I work. Unfortunately, I was scheduled to work that day, but someone wanted to switch with me at the last minute and I missed the stars. Not that my co-worker knew the stars would be showing up that specific day. But it probably was for the best that I missed them. I am not a star struck person, but I did hear that Jane had an adorable canine companion and it would have been embarrassing when I would have smothered her pooch with attention and ignored Jane.

Heck, I feel like I got to know some of the film's production staff in the course of selling antiques and collectibles for the sets. One of the staff and I actually hugged, because we got into a very touching conversation about the POWER of story and how it is told even through objects and the standards of excellence that Jane and Robert elicit.

This whole town pretty much had a stake in the movie. If people weren't extras, or helping the production crew--they simply will recognize all the scenes shot in Florence.

So, why should there not be a watch party? Not at my house though! In a public place, so Florence can celebrate, compare notes and enjoy this film as a community? And maybe even raise a dollar or two for the many historical restoration projects going on around Florence. A watch party would also be a boost to making people aware that Florence is the antiques capital of Colorado and one of the few places in Colorado where small town America is in full swing.

So, maybe there is a public watch party somewhere in Florence. I don't know about it. My co-workers don't know about it. So if there is--shoot me a message or leave a comment on this blog and I'll post the information here.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Our Souls at Night Trailer - Jane Fonda and Robert Redford reunite

The trailer for the Netflix movie, starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford, is out.

While the trailer doesn't really draw me in, I'm looking forward to the movie since some of the movie was filmed in Florence, Colorado. I got to watch portions of the filming, from afar, and assist some of the crew in making purchases to decorate sets.

Florence is the antiques capital of Colorado, and I happen to work at The Loralie Antique Mall. So, not only will be anticipating the movie in general, but seeing all the antiques, collectibles and decor items that crossed our counters.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Florence, Colorado: Finally, Someone Tells The Truth

Finally, someone tells the truth about Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado.

I spotted this sign today (Aug. 25) a day that will go down in infamy. COME IN AND DON'T GET LOST. INCREDIBLE HOARD! 1000's OF ITEMS! WOW!

Notice the innocent people pictured by the sign on Florence's Main Street, they are fleeing. They don't want to get lost in the incredible hoard.

I personally have always wanted to get lost in a hoard. A hoard of ice cream sundaes and delicious crunchy chips--but not a hoard of antiques, collectibles and junk.

But at least the truth is out about Florence. Some people call it collections, some call it hoards. But town is packed with more antiques and oddities than just about anyplace. Perhaps the crew of the TV show, Hoarders, should drop by and see if any assistance is needed.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Florence, Colorado: My Summer Vacation At Bass Pro Shops

Occasionally I like to go on a vacation and leave the quaint burg of Florence, Colorado. This year, time, so far, hasn't allowed a lengthy trip. So I decided on another fun Colorado day trip.

Too far to drive to the Natural History Museum in Denver? Haven't budgeted for the price of admission? No worries. Here's a cheapo and fun way to get a few hour vacation by trolling Bass Pro Shop in Colorado Springs. It's ALMOST like the Natural History Museum. And I'm pretty sure the security at Bass Pro Shops isn't quite as strict as the security at the Natural History Museum.

Join with me as I take a few hour retail vacation. Or if you're really smart, you'll leave this blog page as fast as humanly possible and get yourself to a real vacation.

Who needs to go on an expensive roller coaster to scream one's kiester off. Cheap thrills are free on my vacation. Unfortunately as I was posing for this picture, one bystander starting laughing so loudly that it almost broke my concentration. But we got the picture right before alarmed parents covered their children's eyeballs and whisked them away.

Now don't try this at home (or in the wild children) but I enjoy comparing my manicure to the bear's. I won.

Since I blew my vacation budget of $33.96 that I pulled out of my couch cushions on gas and some alligator bites at the restaurant at Bass Pro Shops, I decided to give myself a free pedicure in the alligator head at the fishy-themed bowling alley. I tried not to alarm any schoolchildren or nuns with my size nines, but someone passing by did suggest that I wouldn't need a paddle board to get across any water since my feet were paddle board-sized. OK, no one actually said that. Must have been the voices in my head or that snippy alligator.

I wasn't the only one having a good time at Bass Pro Shops. That's Uncle Buck. He has a restaurant at Bass Pro Shops. Quite lovely food there, I must say. I did tell him to put the mermaid down, that it was not his. But he didn't listen. I think he mumbled something about enjoying fresh sea food. But I could have misunderstood.

And that is how you have a fun and cheap day trip vacation in Colorado.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Florence,Colorado: Where The F*** Is Florence?

I often search all over for what people are writing about Florence, Colorado.

Local people. People around Colorado. And people around the world.

Why? I'm just curious to know what people think about a small town in the middle of somewhere. And in the middle of nowhere. And come to find out that many people don't even know Florence exists.

One of the problems is that Florence isn't exactly on the way to any major destinations. It's certainly an easy drive from Colorado Springs and Pueblo. It's not that far from Royal Gorge and Canon City. But it's not on a major highway.

I've noticed when I go to the Springs (where I lived for over 20 years and knew about Florence) that when store clerks ask me where I am from--I often get a blank look. I can tell by their eyeballs they are too polite to ask where it is. And some people would say,"Well, Florissant sure is a nice area!"

Florence, not Florissant!

I thought I was the only one who ran into this phenomenon. The Florence vortex.

When I lived in Denver for a short time, it was even more strange. I'd tell a new friend, a hair dresser or store clerk, who asked about my background, that I was from the Springs, but missed Manitou Springs, since I missed small FUNky towns like crazy. I'd get those same blank looks. Manitou? Never heard of it.

So, when I told a few friends and acquaintances in Denver we were moving to Florence, most would say: "Now exactly where is this place? In Colorado?"

I came across this great blog post over at the Florence Brewery Company. Yes, in Florence!

Excellent post that sums up the frustration about finding out most people in our great state don't know we exist.

But I think that is going to change fairly soon. We have a lot of people determined to put Florence on the map. Florence, NOT Florissant!

Just think about it. If people don't know where Florence is they won't be able to get a cold, artisan beer from the Florence Brewing Company easily--or experience all the other great things our fair burg offers in a friendly, small-town environment.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Florence, Colorado: #IFoundYouInFlorenceColorado Artisian Marsha Bell of Canon City

Who did I find in Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado, this time? Florence has a campaign, #FindItInFlorence, designed to showcase all the things one can find in Florence. On this blog, I also highlight who I  find in Florence and what they are doing with the things they find in Florence. I think you'll agree, many people who come to Florence have interesting dreams, goals, hobbies and memories they seek to celebrate with objects found in Florence.

                                                         Marsha Bell Of Canon City

This time I found Marsha Bell of Canon City in Florence. She's holding a miniature cowboy hat and a pair of cowboy boots.

Of course, we couldn't resist asking her what she planned on doing with her purchase.

Marsha said she's been fascinated with miniatures since childhood. But this Canon City artisan isn't just content with arranging and collecting miniatures in an ordinary fashion.

"I arrange antique miniatures in unique antique containers," she said.

She uses antique radios, televisions, refrigerators and other vintage items as the showcase or framework for works of art.

                                                         Photo courtesy of Marsha Bell

Marsha gave a vintage TV (pictured above) new life by creating a magical scene of a North Pole bakery.

"I purchase many of the items I use, in Florence," Marsha said.

Also a registered nurse at St. Thomas More Hospital in Canon City, and an instructor at CNA classes in Florence, Marsha estimates she puts at least 50 plus hours into each creation.

Her nostalgic vignettes aren't for sale, but Marsha has been entering her work at the Pueblo State Fair for about five years. She's won several Best Of Show ribbons and earned three first place ribbons.

                                                        Photo courtesy of Marsha Bell

The scene of a Victorian Christmas, framed by part of an antique icebox, won Marsha a Best of Show award at the fair.

Marsha is inspired by a variety of themes for her art work, but primarily concentrates on Christmas scenes. "This all started from a memory of me as a child looking down a banister at Christmas..."she recalled.

The magical memories of her childhood Christmases are celebrated and honored every time she goes on a search for new miniatures and antique backdrops.

I'm just glad, even though Marsha doesn't sell her work, that she chooses to share her love of good memories, antiques and miniatures with everyone by displaying at the fair, and readily sharing her story with us in Florence.

What is Marsha's newest project that she was in Florence hunting for miniatures last week?

She'll be working on a barn scene (complete with that cute hat and cowboy boots) set in an antique school desk.

I'm hoping when the antique school desk is completed we'll get a picture to share on the blog. We always love seeing all the fascinating things fascinating people do with the treasures they find in Florence!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


I am not a stalker. But the question is: Will I find YOU in Florence, Colorado?

Not that long ago, I started asking people what they were doing in Florence and what they were intending to do with what they purchased in our fair burg.

Every one has a true story, but I didn't expect to find people from all over the state, country and world hanging out here buying really unusual things or planning to do interesting things with semi-common items.

But what I also didn't expect was the find that NOT one person refused to get photographed and asked a few questions for this blog. I do this blog semi-anonymously. I don't have anything printed up directing people to the blog. Nor do I publicize this blog much. I just do it for fun.

This all started as a slight twist on the marketing campaign in Florence: #FindItInFlorence.
I have nothing to do with that fine campaign, but think it's very clever and was happy to see Find It In Florence signs go up all over town recently.

So far I've met the most interesting people by asking people what they are doing in Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado.

You wouldn't think there would be a common thread among dozens of people picked randomly over a year or so period. But there is. Every single one of them was fulfilling an unique dream, hobby, community service or intent on preserving history.

So, since this little venture has proven so fun to me (and I hope you) I do believe I'll continue this feature.

You never know when I'll pop up and ask you what you found in Florence. #IFoundYOUInFlorenceColorado. But will I find, YOU next as you visit the antiques capital of Colorado?

Friday, May 26, 2017

#FindItInFlorence I Found Tractor Restorer Emery Ball of Kismet, KS In The Antiques Capital Of Colorado

Who did I find in Florence--the antiques capital of Colorado--this time?

I found a man on a mission to preserve the history of tractors and the memories of growing up with his granddad and dad who farmed in Kansas.

                                                        Emery Ball of Kismet, Kansas

At first Emery asked me for a screwdriver to pop the lid on that can of Keystone Grease he purchased. He wanted to see how much grease was in the can. Most people buy such relics of the past for the antique or collectible value of the tin--but Emery said the old stuff works better on water pumps and stops leaks better than anything new out there.

Then we got to talking about how Emery restores tractors. But the tractors aren't for sale--they are only to preserve a part of his personal history and the history of friends, family and neighbors who worked the Kansas farmlands for decades.

People often find out about what Emery does--for the love of it and not the money--and donate antique tractors with the provision that they won't be sold. Emery also participates in tractor pulls.

Emery and his wife, Laura, were on vacation in Colorado--and often like to stop in Florence where they know they will find items perfect for restorations and other projects.

So far, Emery has 22 restored tractors on his land. Emery is a salesman by trade, but still lives on the land farmed by his family and has fond memories of working the land with his granddad and father.

Getting his father to finally retire, involved promising him they would always keep him supplied with tractors to restore. Emery said his father is now 87 and almost every day, works on restoring tractors.

Several of the tractors date to the 1920s and Emery is always on the hunt for parts--and Florence often produces just the right item.

Emery and his family live in Kismet, a town smaller than Florence, not far from Liberal, Kansas.

I am always running across interesting people living out their talents and dreams, and preserving legacies and history--who stop in Florence.The town of Florence often helps people find the tangible items needed to carry out those dreams.

This time we found Emery Ball, in Florence, carrying out his dreams and helping his father preserve a family legacy.

Will you be the next person I find in Florence ?


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Florence,Colorado: Build It, And They Will Come

Today a nice antiques store browser told me that I should contact HGTV (Home & Garden TV) about Florence, the antiques capital of Colorado.

The browser told me this spontaneously, as she was happily treasure hunting, having no idea--I just might take an interest in her idea.

Actually HGTV did visit Florence about two years ago for an edition of House Hunters that featured Svetlana and Gunnar Piltingsrud and their historic Victorian house. You can read a previous blog post about it here:

But this visitor today was saying that Joanna and Chip Gaines of the HGTV hit show, Fixer Upper, should be fascinated with Florence since there are so many antiques and collectibles that fit with their renovations.

I'd actually never thought of that--but excellent idea. I know the town will welcome them (or anyone) with open arms. It sounds rather fantastical--but it's not really. As I've noted on this blog, people come to Florence from all over the world. Not that many--but enough to surprise me.

And we have many people who own shops all over Colorado and come to Florence, because the variety is stupendous and the prices are usually lower than in other parts of the state.

A Denver-area customer told me the other day that shopping in Denver's antiques district is pleasant, but the prices and selection aren't as good as Florence.

Florence has built it and they will come. They've already come. But more and more visitors to Florence are expressing opinions that there is something special about Florence and think more people need to know.

I agree!

As blog readers know, Colorado Life magazine people were in town last week and a story and photo spread is in the works.

We also know the Netflix movie, Our Souls At Night, starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford, was partially filmed in Florence last fall. Millions of people will be likely watching the movie and wondering where it was shot. And yes, many of the props were purchased right in Florence's antiques district.

Yes, many people are working tirelessly to get Florence the recognition it deserves.

Florence is one of the most quirky and interesting towns in Colorado. For years, its been a slight secret, but word is getting out.

And Florence isn't just about antiques. The picture above is just a sampling of all the outdoor art visitors can experience for free, just by strolling residential areas or taking a short drive.

You can tell the townspeople care about art and beauty. One would be happily surprised at all the homeowners turning stumps into works of art with the help of Fremont County artist, Sheldon Roberts.

Art and whimsy is in almost nook and cranny of our fair burg. I love this delight in front of the Blue Frog Gallery on Florence's Main St.

Some day I'll have a "tour" on the blog of all the outdoor art there is in Florence.

And some day we'll get the word out, even more, about all the delights in Florence, to more print media and television.

But in the meantime--remember, people have built it in Florence and they will come.

Will we find YOU next in Florence, walking the streets filled with art, antiques, eateries and friendly people?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

#FindItInFlorence --I Found A Colorado Life Magazine Writer And Photographer In Florence, The Antiques Capital Of Colorado

Today I found Colorado Life magazine staff writer, Lisa Hutchins and Joshua Hardin, the magazine's photo editor, in Florence--the antiques capital of Colorado.

Every day is a good day in our fun burg, but today was one of the best days ever.

Front row: Joshua Hardin, photo editor and photographer; Lisa Hutchins, staff writer; Elsie Ore, co-owner of Heartland Antiques and Heartland Boutique; Florence mayor Keith Ore and co-owner of the Heartland stores. Back row: Rena Pryor, manager of The Loralie Antique Mall and owner of Bizzy Bee Honey Farms: Peg Piltingsrud, co-owner of Fox Den Of Antiquity and pioneer in Florence's Antiques Capital Of Colorado status.

I've been a subscriber and admirer of Colorado Life magazine for many years. Refer to my March 2016 blog post about this remarkable magazine--written way before I knew the magazine was honoring Florence with a photo spread and story.

In that 2016 blog post, I mention the world-class writing and photography and commitment to digging deep into the real Colorado. After spending an afternoon with these friendly and professional magazine folks, I can say what I wrote over a year ago, is even more deeply felt today.

For those readers who don't live in Colorado, it might be hard to imagine that a state with so many wildernesses, geographical divides and diversity of people and scenery are tight-knit. It's true. As we were all chatting around a table at Florence's Aspen Leaf cafe, what came to the forefront is that all of us love the towns we live in, but love Colorado as a whole and it binds us together.

It's the love of Colorado that Colorado Life magazine captures perfectly in each and every issue.

Check out the magazine's website at:

You heard it here first: What happens in Florence--doesn't stay in Florence.

We rarely let anyone leave Florence without a parting gift, even if it's simply the memory of a fun and friendly welcome they can take home with them. But Joshua and Lisa were treated to some jars of Bizzy Bee Honey Farms raw honey, compliments of Rena Pryor.

We took a leisurely tour of Florence's many shops and galleries and also at the 1923 Rialto Theater on Florence's Main St. Pictured above is,  Keith Ore, Peg Piltingsrud and Joshua Hardin discussing the fact that the partially-restored Rialto is one of Colorado's few existing theaters that have the original fly towers intact.

I know a fair amount about Florence's history and attributes, but today I learned almost as much about the town in a few hours than I've picked up in the last five years since I've chosen this town as home.

I'm not sure when the Florence story will appear, but when I know, I'll post it. In the meantime, those wishing to experience Colorado Life magazine, information on subscribing is at its website, or single issues are available at the check stands at the Big D Supermarket in Florence.

And I know when Colorado Life's Florence story hits the stands, I'll learn even more about our town. Best day ever!

So, will we find YOU in Florence next?