LONGTIME MONTROSE BUSINESS OWNER WESTCOTT SPEAKS OUT ABOUT DOWNTOWN PROMOTION STRATEGIES

Glee Westcott started her store, Tiffany Etc., 33 years ago. For 25 of those years, Westcott said, she has envisioned a Downtown supported by a true retail and marketing professional.

Glee Westcott started her store, Tiffany Etc., 33 years ago. For 25 of those years, Westcott said, she has envisioned a Downtown supported by a true retail and marketing professional.

By Caitlin Switzer

MONTROSE—(October 1, 2013)  Glee Westcott first opened her shop in Downtown Montrose 33 years ago, a 100-square-foot location across from City Market, in the location that until recently was occupied by State Beauty Supply.

“I did my stained glass there, and shared space with a floral company,” Westcott said. “My next location was near Main Street, a little space behind the Simpson Gallery—but I kept on going.”

Today, Westcott’s store, Tiffany Etc, is a longtime Montrose favorite, located at 439 East Main Street and drawing appreciative shoppers from across the region for its enticingly rich mix of beautiful gifts, carefully-chosen items for the home, jewelry and accessories. Known for outstanding customer service, Westcott is also a smart business owner who consistently uses social media to promote targeted sales events like Mix-n-Match Sundays, and opportunities for special sales on popular items.

Ask her about the 2013-2014 Holiday season, however, and Westcott is apprehensive. Ask her about the City of Montrose’s efforts to administer the community’s retail enhancement and tourism promotion funds, and she does not mince words—as a longtime Downtown stakeholder, she herself is a less than satisfied customer.

“I have not got all the answers,” Westcott said. “But I have been saying the same thing for 25 years and it has not happened yet.”

What Westcott envisions is a Downtown supported by a true retail and marketing professional.

“There needs to be some accountability,” she said. “I just feel that to run any small business takes years of practice, and to promote tourism takes experience and expertise. We need someone who is an expert in retail, and who knows better than to shut Main Street down for two days–because the people who shut down Main Street for two days obviously have no retail expertise.

“I would rather see six events each year that are done right, than 20 that are done wrong,” she said.

Westcott was one of a number of small business owners Downtown who were upset by the response of Montrose City Manager Bill Bell to an email communication from Pollux (433 East Main) Owner Brian Badini, who was caught unaware by the extensive street closure enacted for the filming of a low-budget Zombie movie throughout Downtown Aug. 23-24.

“I own Pollux Clothing Company, and am writing in regards to the email I received yesterday from the DDA Promotions Committee, regarding Main Street being closed for a movie production,” Badini wrote Aug. 23.  “I find it troubling that NO regard has been given to the business owners.  Friday and Saturday Sales provide over 60 percent of our gross sales each and every week of the year. However, when Main Street is closed, our numbers are cut in HALF.  I anticipate that this weekend’s fiasco could be even more damaging with sidewalk access being limited due to shooting schedules.  For us, it is back-to-school season, and we recently purchased significant inventory and had purchased advertising for a sale this weekend.  All for nothing now.

“Perhaps the City could examine its policy with regards to street closure, and take into consideration the effects on those of us who are trying to make a living and provide jobs for the community,” Badini wrote. “What is even harder to imagine, is that this kind of access is being given to a production that will most likely NEVER be seen by anyone.”

Bell’s email response, excerpted below, has been circulated widely among business owners since.

“As long as we have a fully functional DDA organization, I don’t believe it is the City’s responsibility to communicate to the businesses on these issues directly, but it is instead the role of the DDA to do so,” wrote Bell.
“I don’t appreciate or agree with your comments about City Administration’s lack of communication with you and/or fellow downtown business owners because our staff has worked diligently to support downtown since I started two years ago,” Bell continued. “We have created a Downtown Revolving Loan Fund for small business retention and expansion, which has been very successful thus far.  We have waived thousands of dollars in fees and other burdensome requirements that hindered the promotion of downtown shopping events, etc.  We have pushed for the implementation of the National Main Street Program, which when fully implemented will put the businesses in charge of their own destiny via four specialized committees run by downtown business owners.  We have developed a Business Retention and Expansion Survey process based upon the nationally-recognized Hometown Competitiveness Model, which will hopefully be administered soon with the assistance of downtown volunteers.”

Westcott said that her longtime dream is to have a Downtown director with extensive experience in effective advertising and retail promotions targeted toward the kind of shoppers who want what Montrose has to offer.

“I think (former DDA Director) Scott Shine had a great vision for what he wanted Downtown to be, but retail promotions were kind of turned over to volunteers,” Westcott said. “The volunteers work hard, but it can be overwhelming for them.

“Until Downtown has a director with some knowledge of marketing, we have no hope,” she said. “We need someone who knows how to put Montrose on the map appropriately, someone who can bring in the quality shoppers we want to see Downtown. I see other communities with good representation, good ideas, and great events happening. I see so much out of Palisade, which has so much less than Montrose!

“I have worked so hard to make my store a success,” she said. “To say, ‘Let’s ignore what works and put on a circus every Thursday evening’ is just not my idea of good marketing.”

And of course, marketing and customer service are what Westcott does best.

“My customers know that they are special, especially over Christmas,” she said. “We have worked at providing consistent customer service for many, many years. Today I am having a fabulous day—I have been running specials like my Mix-n-Match Sunday. Of course it means being open on Sunday, but shopping happens on Sunday– it’s the best day of the week!

“It just takes recognizing what is important to our customers.”