September is that time of the year when thousands of Coloradans head up I-70 to ski country on their annual trek to view one of the great natural events: the spectacular changing of the colors especially of the Aspens. This year on your way up or back stop at the Floyd Hill exit and visit Ski Country Antiques and Home and see Colorado’s finest selection of incredible antiques and home decor and wish Sharna Coors and her Ski Country team a happy fifth anniversary.
It was just five years ago when Sharna received a call from the previous owner of Ski Country Antiques, asking her, “Wouldn’t you like to buy this store?” The store had been closed for a couple of years and the sellers were motivated. Sure enough Heidi, Sharna’s daughter, had encouraged her to buy the store and Sharna concluded, “Yes this is something we could do.”
Sharna’s son Michael recommended that they hire Maggie Erickson as store manager. Maggie, who had great experience buying and merchandising for a garden center, had no experience with antiques.
“It was the best recommendation. We hired Maggie right off the bat and she was and is the best person we could have. She has grown the business and I have had so much fun watching her grow.”
Sharna’s daughter Heidi has scaled back, and is no longer involved in the day to day operation but Sharna has a great team at Ski Country, Maggie, of course, and her husband Tim, Denise and Lisa who have all been on board since early in the business. The consistency of the staff has made a huge difference to customers. The business was originally called Ski Country Antiques and they added “and home” to it because “home decor is such a big part of what we do.”
The greatest challenge was learning everything from scratch. Maggie developed expertise in home decor while Sharna and Heidi added the antique expertise to the equation. “We don’t get in each other’s areas unless one of us sees something exceptional and then I call Maggie, for example, and say, Maggie can you find this.”
“You need both parts, they are very different but they are a good match. The antiques and decor really fit together and we have done well with them.”
Sharna enjoys the antique part and takes a European buying trip once a year. She attributes much of their success to a buyer she found in Amsterdam who understands what they want and expect and has “gotten our flavor. She runs around and finds items for us.”
“Maggie on the other hand is constantly buying. Home decor is very seasonal. Maggie does an exceptional job and I am very pleased,” says Sharna.
The hardest part for Sharna and Maggie was the beginning of the business because the store had been closed a few years and it took awhile to rebuild the customer base and get the traffic they need.
Maggie adds, “The store was hard to fill because the store was so big approximately 20,000 square feet and we thought we would never fill it. Now we bring in something new wondering where are we going to put it.” Sharna adds, “It’s a good problem.”
“What we learned about buying is how to pick the right things, understanding what people like and really get to understand our customers and learn from them,” Maggie explained.
Sharna said,”With the antiques we learned to be patient. Sometimes a regular customer finds something they have seen for a long time but suddenly they fall in love with it. It has taken them awhile to re-discover it. The small antiques and home decor go out of here daily and it is a very steady flow. It keeps us afloat from day to day. You must be patient.”
June through summer and the last half of the year is best for business for them. In the summer the tourist business is tremendous and their regular repeat customers are steady all year as well as business from the local communities near the shop.
“We were fortunate,” Sharna adds, “we started when business was near the bottom and it just kept getting better and continues to do so. We have graphed our growth and each year has been better than the previous year.”
For Sharna her favorite thing has been working with the customers and developing strong relationships. But the people she feels strongest about is her exceptional staff. She explains what a great joy it is for her to watch them develop and grow. She has a “great team.”
Maggie loves the merchandising, getting to change different parts of the store, focusing on the seasonal items and times and constantly having to get new pieces and items. Changing the look and feel regularly always gives customers a sense of freshness and newness.
“It is kind of like having a 20,000 square foot doll house, they both agree. It’s just fun.”
Something new they have been doing that has helped their business this last year is online selling which they have been doing on two online platforms First Dibs and Ruby Lane. Although it has been challenging it has also provided great new exposure.
One of the most interesting aspects of what they have accomplished with their business is the high regard many people in the antique community hold for them. And no wonder Ski Country Antiques and Home is in a class by itself, a very unique and wonderful antique and home deco business.