Florence — Antique ‘Boom’ Town

By Sandy Dale
I overheard a conversation between two car buffs at our Merchants’ Annual Car Show last Sunday.  It went something like this:


“Man, do you remember when this show was just one block long?  Just one block shut off, no band, no food trucks.  It was cool back then – the old cars and all, but nothin’ like this.”


“Yeah, I remember, but look at this – four blocks plus the side streets.  You gotta love the old sixties band…and the valve cover car race.  What a hoot.  I can’t believe Florence looks like this now.  Trees shading the sidewalks, benches, the street packed with folks havin’ a great time.”


I was reminded myself of how all this happened…


I’ve called Florence “home” for nearly seventeen years.  During that time, this little dusty coal-mining town has become the Antiques Capital of Colorado, now with over twenty antique shops.  I moved here to help start Blue Spruce Arts and Antiques, a co-operative artists’ gallery and the first gallery in Florence.  Now there are seven galleries and the Bell Tower Cultural Center.  There were two or three places to eat.  Now, eight really good restaurants within a six-block walk.  All of them owner-operated.  Florence is now a little arts and antiques “boom” town.


You may wonder what the force was behind this burst of energy during what some would call difficult economic times.  Well, of course, there have been lots of factors, but the merchants have been the primary one.  And one merchant in particular – Peg Piltingsrud, owner of The Fox Den of Antiquity.  Eighteen years ago, she and her sister Kit started an antique shop, and then they expanded to two stores.  They schmoozed folks (like me) into moving to their cute little town and taking part in its rebirth.  What happened next, as they say, is history.  As president of the merchants’ association, Peg became the force behind this super-group of merchants.  As president of the Florence Arts Council, she enticed artists to “check out” Florence.  They did.


The change in Florence has been spectacular.  And now Florence will have another big change.  Peg is retiring.  She has closed The Fox Den of Antiquity, sold her building and stepped down as president of the merchants’ association.  She has left the merchants’ group in the capable hands of the new president and business will bustle as usual.


But she will be missed.  On any given day, you could walk into The Fox Den and find a group of townsfolk gathered at the sales counter discussing events of the day.  If you needed to know what was happening, Peg had the most accurate information.


No one I know has worked harder to make Florence what it is today. The merchants, townsfolk, and Peg’s faithful customers know that she deserves an awesome retirement… time to pursue her painting, time to spend with her family, and time to enjoy her great little town of Florence.

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