Over the past two years, local retail has been hit hard.
Not only have operators had to survive pandemic-era shutdowns and try to stay afloat like other businesses, but they have been forced to compete with major online retailers.
Despite these challenges, Woodland Park remains a premier hub for unique outlets. A local store, Rocky ‘n’ Roll Music, located in the city’s downtown, is still struggling, but it has had to add services to its business model to stay in business.
According to store owner Hector Herrera, business was good when the store first opened in 2018. But (like most businesses), the good times came to an abrupt halt in the spring of 2020. “When COVID hit, we had to quarantine and close the closed store for a month and a half,” Herrera said. “When we all came out of quarantine at the same time, people had money in their pockets because they had all received stimulus checks. People realized they needed to have a hobby in case it happened again. So when everyone came out of quarantine we had a huge surge in guitar sales, we couldn’t keep them off the wall. But it only lasted so long.
He said sales began to decline a few months after the pandemic, likely due to more people learning to shop from home. Then he said that tourism has been down in the city this year, which has hurt his business even more.
To keep up with the changing times, he and his wife had to change their business model and offer more than just retail sales. In addition to their product line, Rocky ‘n’ Roll Music now offers drum lessons and karaoke/trivia hosting services. Also, Hector plays in a local band.
Herrera described the special and personal services they provide, which cannot be obtained through online outlets. “The internet doesn’t offer in-person, live drum lessons,” the company owner explained. “The internet doesn’t offer live karaoke, hosts and quizzers. And the internet doesn’t offer live music in front of you. That’s why we had to offer all these services, because if we didn’t have side jobs and we were only doing counter retail, we would have gone out of business by now.
Benefiting from a strong musical tradition
Hector and his wife Shannon worked their whole lives in music stores and spent several years in Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX area. Hector originally grew up in Mexico, and he and his wife had always dreamed of living in a mountain town in Colorado.
In 2015, Hector’s job moved him to Denver, and since then the Herreras had been looking for a home in a local mountain town. They eventually moved to Green Mountain Falls and decided to open a music store in Woodland Park because there was a music scene in town, but no music store.
The husband and wife team then traveled to other mountain towns and modeled their store on other outlets they visited firsthand. The store opened its doors selling merchandise for musicians and gifts for just about anyone.
“We sell musical instruments and musical instrument accessories,” Herrera said. “We also sell a lot of music-related gifts, like band mugs, band keychains, and then we make pick earrings and music-related jewelry. We mainly cater to students, beginners and people who want to get back to it.
The store also offers drum lessons and has over 30 active students. Hector and Shannon also spend most of their nights hosting karaoke and quiz events at various bars in the area.
And then about a year and a half ago, Hererra decided to start a band with two other local musicians, called Electric Blues Trio. The band now books several gigs regularly and plays venues throughout Teller County.
The group members all met in the store, and now they have become well known in the area. “We play all kinds of music, but we’re mostly a blues band,” Herrera said. “We do Chicago blues, Memphis blues, Kentucky blues, swampy blues, and then we also do classic rock because people like to hear bands like Tom Petty, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and that kind of things.”