Merchants set for MainStreet project

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

On Thursday, it was formally announced that Tucumcari had been accepted as a New Mexico MainStreet project. The designation is expected to help in the development strategy to revitalize the city’s downtown.

But some small local retailers had already begun making their moves — shifting directions and locations to reach more customers and to become more viable businesses around and on Main Street. Several are also planning on using one-time events to add more interest and bring more people to the downtown area.

For example, a year ago, Joel O’Rear, owner of J&M Jewelers on Main Street, scouted out the operations of the Crafters Mall in Amarillo, Texas, and a mini mall in Clovis.
Now, he’s aiming to open up floor space in his store to others where they can create their own mini-boutiques.

“I came up with this a year ago,” O’Rear said. O’Rear is in the initial stages and doesn’t yet have a full house, but he’s hoping more will come aboard.
Those who have brought in merchandise are Lavern Sanderson, a stamp artist, Teddy Callens, a doll collector, Vickie Harley, who creates crochet arts, and Pat Cannon, who creates contemporary collectibles.

For independent jewelry owners, there was a peak in about 1996, he said. Then there was strong competition from retailing programs like QVC on television and on the Internet.

“It prompted me to do something different,” said O’Rear, who has operated a jewlry store on Main Street since 1974 and also offered his clientele watch and clock repair services as well as jewelry, fine china and gifts.

The impetus of MainStreet, O’Rear said, he thinks will be beneficial. ”I think the MainStreet project is an encouragement. The number of people who showed up at the announcement shows that people are interested. You normally don’t see that many people at a meeting.”

Meanwhile, he’s also hoping that classes in making greeting cards with rubber stamping, being offered by Sanderson on Saturday, will generate traffic and interest in his concept.

Sanderson said she thinks the classes offer an extra dimension and the cost is affordable at $5 per person. “It will bring more people in who are doing crafts. They can always mull around and that’s part of the game of getting people inside the door.”

Also on Main Street is SmalMart, a strictly holiday business that was added two weeks ago by Tyler Schutte.

Most recently from Albuquerque, Schutte is a chef, who once worked at the Holiday Inn in Tucumcari and who was considering opening up a culinary store there.
“I was on line looking at where I could buy kitchen stuff for my store and then I saw this site that really piqued my interest,” Schutte said. “It was where you could buy salvage goods, items that customers returned, boxes that had been opened or damaged, and so I thought I would try it out. I got a semi-truck load and I didn’t even know what would be inside.”

So, instead of staying in Albuquerque he decided that he would try it on Main Street in an open warehouse type that’s part of Parajito Interiors.

And his merchandise? “It was a risk. It was a lot of money for something I didn’t know what I’m getting.”

But it’s worked out pretty good, he said.

And it turned out he’s ended up a semi-load of mostly bed linen and 400 rugs of all shapes and sizes for a retailer.

Another retailer who recently moved to the area are Janie and John Murray, who opened Gotcha Gifts & More at the corner of Second and Aber streets, in late November. They had operated another business called County Sunset Gifts on Mountain Road.

At the new location they expect more customer traffic, “because it’s near two doctors’ offices, the pharmacies and it’s not that far from the bank,” she said.
While the store is open Monday through Friday and on Saturdays during the holidays, Janie Murray said, she’s also planning to have special events such as a Pampered Chef demonstration on Jan. 5.

“I think you need to do fun and different things to keep it exciting for the customers. We won’t do it all the time, but it’ll give customers a reason to come in again,” she said.

Janie Murray said there has been more interest in Second Street with the opening of Gallery 111 and 66 Couture, and then on Main Street with the 3rd Rock, a video arcade, and Pajarito Interiors.

Also at the MainStreet announcement, it was announced that a restaurant was expected to open in the future on Main Street.

Pete Kampfer, director of the Greater Tucumcari Economic Development, confirmed there was interest in opening a restaurant by local investors. However, he would not disclose who or what type of eatery was planned.