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First News Winter 2006

Discover Main Street Again

   In 1996 Martie Henderson found an old hotel that had been boarded up for over 10 years and fell in love with the idea of restoring it to its former glory. After a year of hard work, she opened it as “La Plaza Inn & Suites — an elegantly restored historic hotel.” However, after a few years of operation and still low occupancy, she realized that Walsenburg just wasn’t enough of a destination to make the little inn work. Since she couldn’t move La Plaza to a neat little resort town, she decided to make Walsenburg a quaint little tourist town! With an extensive background and education in sales and marketing, Martie knew two of the key elements necessary for a tourist destination were already in place – scenery and traffic. Between three and four million cars pass through Walsenburg annually, so she was positive that if some unique shops and eateries opened along Main Street, they would arouse the curiosity of travelers.


   Armed with a plan to revitalize Walsenburg, Martie set out to find retailers and restaurateurs to fill the buildings downtown. She tried for several years to lure investors and shop owners. She finally decided to do it herself. During the spring of 2005, she managed to purchase three buildings on Main Street. They were all empty and their storefronts had been in disarray from previous renovations. She restored them to their original Victorian architecture and opened three shops: the Main Street Antique Mall at 609 Main Street, Southwest Imports at 607 Main Street, and Cowboy Connection at 605 Main Street.

Each shop offers different merchandise as their names indicate, however; Southwest Imports is much more than pottery. It offers an array of furniture, home decor items and gifts, not only in the southwestern tradition, but also a large selection of Old World Tuscan-style items, and a delightful selection of mountain lodge/log cabin home accents. But perhaps the most unique aspect of the Southwest Imports shop is her little “business incubator” experiment. Martie has provided an area for four separately owned boutiques in one of the stores. Each little boutique owner buys their own merchandise and rents a 10ft.X10ft. space. As they grow their businesses, she would like them to start their own shops on Main Street, thereby filling an empty store front and creating their own job plus a few more for others. Martie’s been pleased with business so far and is happy to see new activity in the Burg. She feels she’s in the right place at the right time, believing Walsenburg is the last best investment opportunity along the Sangre de Cristo range!

Front: Laura Smith, Tammy Williford, Janet Behringer
Middle: Barbara Gatlin, Martie Henderson, Claire Braun, Marianne Smithy, Joane Paige
Back: Debbie Williams, Shelly Naranjo


La Plaza de los Leones Inn
118 West Sixth Street
Walsenburg, CO 81089
(719) 738-5700
Main Street Antique Mall
609 Main Street
(719) 738-1100
Cowboy Connection
605 Main Street
(719) 738-6500
Southwest Imports
607 Main Street
(719) 738-1400

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