When Athan Loukakis, a teenage boy from Greece, arrived in Manitou Springs as a foreign exchange student many years ago, it never occurred to him that he would become a long-time resident of Colorado, leaving behind the beloved culture and extravagant beauty of the Mediterranean. While in Colorado, Athan met his wife, Paula, a native to the state, who grew up with her family in Pueblo. Her grandfather was a local grocery store owner. Athan’s family was also in business for themselves, proprietors of a restaurant back in Greece. As a result, both Athan and Paula were used to the lifestyle and unique stresses of a family-run venture. So when they both became frustrated with the dangers and disappointments of their jobs, they walked away from the drudgery of working for someone else and entered into the adventure of entrepreneurship. Continue reading “Bang Bang Euro Boutique”
This the season for gift-giving and shopping! Being that I love Colorado and am passionate about my community, I gathered a broad range of products ideal for gift-giving that are Colorado-sourced. The majority of these products are made here in Southern Colorado and support individual artisans in their entrepreneurial efforts. They range in price points from a few dollars to several thousand for Fine Art. I hope this gives you some ideas that you haven’t considered before and encourages you to shop locally as well. This way we are giving on both ends: to the ones we love and to our local small businesses!
I hope you find this helpful and here is to a joyous holiday season. Continue reading “10 Colorado-Sourced Gift Ideas”
The best part about living in Colorado Springs is the weather. In comparison, it really is not too hot or too cold, which makes it perfect patio weather. Your home and the local restaurants/cafes need to capitalize on the best attributes of Colorado – the view and the weather!
With that in mind, I set out to find some great places to enjoy a meal or a drink with friends or with a book. Luckily there are so many in our area that you would have to try to miss one. Everywhere you turn is a wonderful patio to take full advantage of the Colorado Springs life. For today, I narrowed my focus to the Westside of Colorado Springs. Continue reading “Great Patios on the Westside”
When you enter Febra’s Boutique and Gallery in Old Colorado City you most likely will be greeted by the sweetest, southern accent in town! That cheery voice is that of Febra Pope, the proprietor of her namesake boutique.
This Southern woman started her retail career back in Texas at the age of 14, by working for a large, long-standing department store. She stayed in retail becoming a manager of a children’s shop and finally ventured out on her own by opening a store called, The LadyBug. Several moves and many years later she eventually found herself in Colorado Springs. Never imagining she would work in retail again, Febra visited a local, downtown boutique and suddenly was ushered back into the world of women’s retail, working in the store several years. After being involved in the downtown shop and then with a consignment store, Febra saw herself being drawn back into ownership.
Febra never thought she would own a retail shop again but I suppose the allure of being a business owner really never leaves, so in June of 2015 Febra and her husband, Dave, opened her eclectic boutique on a prominent corner in Old Colorado City.
Being a boutique owner this time around is certainly much different than her Texas days but she is loving it. Instead of a few dresses and accessories, Febra now features 32 artists in her boutique and gallery, in addition to a considerable selection of apparel, shoes, jewelry, and accessories. Mixed-media artwork on her walls will draw you in and enhances the diversity in the shop. Nearly all of her artists are local to Colorado Springs and she usually has one of these artists on hand for you to meet during the monthly Art Walk in Old Colorado City (on the first Friday of the month). One of the artists even set up a station out front of her store during art walk and taught children how to paint.
So why include so much art in a women’s boutique? Febra shares that, “My main goal for this store was to have fun! I wanted it to be a fun store.” It certainly is that as there was so much to take in. Rack and racks of adorable dresses and jackets. The summer sandals are incredibly affordable, amazing silver jewelry, fun hats, and just when I thought I had seen everything – I noticed a door leading to a back room. In this cozy corner, snuggled in a cove behind the counter, was just about any layering item you could ever need for your closet: leggings, camisoles, scarves – essentials in every color imaginable.
In addition to keeping her store fun, Febra works hard to make sure all her apparel stays affordable. You will be hard-pressed to find anything over $5o and her average price for apparel is around $22. Yet, the featured artwork and hand-crafted silver jewelry are a well-selected collection of high-quality craftsmanship.
When asked how she likes having her shop in Old Colorado City, Febra was quick to answer, “Looooove the location! I mean, I do not think I would be doing as well if I was not in Old Colorado City because we have the local people who really help us, and then the tourist business is huge, and it’s year-round.”
After only 3 months of being in business, Febra received the Colorado Springs Independent Bronze Award for the Best Non-Chain Women’s Store. She and her husband had no idea they had even been nominated – what an achievement!
The boutique and gallery is open 7 days a week, and for small business owners that often means very little time off. They are able to employ 5-6 ladies part-time, but much of the responsibility falls on the shoulders of Febra and her husband, Dave, which means sometimes working until 2 am to get all the buying and administrative work done. Febra does all the buying while Dave makes sure the store is merchandised well. In addition to running the physical store, Febra is working on launching a website: shopfebras.com.
With all that she has going on, Febra still finds time to play in a tennis league and hang out with her grandchildren. Her love of people and children was so evident when I was interviewing her.
Febra loves to give back as well so occasionally they hold a Charity night in their store, where 20-25% of the sales go back to the featured charity of the evening.
The care and interest that Febra and Dave have for their customers are evident the minute you walk in the door. I had not been there to see them in nearly a year, yet when I walked in the door, Dave immediately remembered me and my name – though they did not know I was stopping by. That left an immeasurable and positive impression. You will feel so welcome when you visit Febra’s and will certainly find something adorable and affordable at the same time!
Visit Febra’s 7 days a week at 2532 W. Colorado Ave – located in Old Colorado City.
I love boutiques. I love their owners. I love their stories. Boutique owners work hard to offer a truly unique experience and I find that these little shops often reflect the creativity and personality of their owners. When I walk into a small boutique I see not just apparel or gifts – I see a story.
One of the most interesting and fun boutiques I’ve ever been to is Barracuda Bazaar, located in Old Colorado City next door to Bon Tons Café. Barracuda Bazaar is darling, whimsical, and still trendy even after 20 years in business, just like her owner, Kim McKenna. Kim is a petite, spunky, and gorgeous woman who looks half her age and her love of life is evident as soon as you walk in the door. Give yourself plenty of time to peruse through all her vintage-inspired gifts that will give you a chuckle, locally made lotions, plus her impeccable selection of clothes and accessories. Her customers are some of the most loyal around because her customer service and knack for the small details will make you feel like you’re one of the family.
Longevity seems to be the hallmark for this boutique as they recently celebrated 20 years in business. Before Kim owned the store she was a regular customer at Barracuda Bazaar. Over time, she became friends with the owner and a fan of the store. Kim said she always admired the store; and when she was in need of a part-time job, working at the boutique was a perfect fit. Soon it wasn’t long before she was approached and given the opportunity to take over ownership. At the time, our nation was in the middle of a recession and she was cautioned that banks were not loaning to small businesses, however, Kim and her husband believed that if this was the direction God had for them He would “roll out the red carpet”. Miraculously, within 30 days Kim and her husband Rick were the proud and pleasantly surprised owners of Barracuda Bazaar! What started as a part-time job turned into a family business with her husband helping around the store and her daughters modeling for photo shoots and even accompanying Kim on buying trips. There’s no better way to stay in touch with the latest trends than with savvy young women constantly available for advice. Sounds like a perfect fit for this beautiful, outgoing and fashion-conscious family!
Kim has a wonderful understanding of marketing and merchandising that enables her to keep loyal customers and maintain a store that is vibrant and alive. She has an amazing eye for purchasing, always has the best attitude, and possesses an immense heart for young women as she regularly partners with local organizations to empower young women from a wide variety of backgrounds and needs. Owning a boutique plays into her sweet spot – which is loving people. She says she is no fashionista and her girls (not only her daughters but the many young women that she invests her life in) are the ones who keep her on top of fashion trends. In turn, Kim wants to create an environment where she can speak encouragement, love, and value to her girls and the women that come in her door.
When asked what makes her boutique (and boutiques in general) stand out from big box or chain stores she says, “We keep it simple and we keep it about relationships. Small businesses that are doing really well are the ones who have a loyal customer base, and it’s because when the customer comes in you TALK to them and know about their lives.” Kim even has a mascot to keep in touch with her customers, Barracuda Barbie, who is managed by one of her employees, Shannon. Kim added, “Barracuda Barbie never misses a birthday!”. (Visit Barracuda Barbie’s Page Here!)
As I look around the boutique I see a wide variety of options that appeal to just about every age. Kim, 47, is always dressed well and simply, and her daughter, Megan, 27, who is also her standing model, has the edge and youthfulness you would expect. As they work together they are able to provide a far reach in their style. Overall, it is very comfortable and welcoming in the store.
Before I left I had one more question for Kim that I’m sure everyone has: “Where did the name Barracuda Bazaar come from?!” Kim laughed and said, “The name comes from the fish. A barracuda is a survivor, scavenger, it can live in any condition. We are a survivor in a world where things come and go. We are sticking around!” Her loyal customers even refer to themselves as “Barracuda Babes” because they are fighters and survivors as well!
Make sure you stop by and look around Barracuda Bazaar for yourself and meet Kim with her darling staff. We’d love to know about your experience at BB by sharing it in our comments! Also, check out our Periscope interview with Kim from last Fall: