LONGMONT — It’s another step forward for “New Urbanism.”
New Town Prospect, the neighborhood at Pike Road and U.S. Highway 287, has been the source of curious looks, fascination and derision — depending on your point of view.
One thing it hasn’t been until now is a shopping destination. With the exception of an art gallery — and some good barbecue — there hasn’t been much to draw shoppers to the neighborhood, but that changed this week with the opening of two new stores.
Located on the eastern edge of Prospect, where, ultimately, the majority of the neighborhood’s commercial development will be, House Gifts & Decor and Maddie and Matthew’s Children’s Boutique are open in side-by-side locations on 100 Year Party Court.
“It’s just great with the mailboxes across the street because people come by all the time,” said Jessica Fernandez, one of the owners of Maddie and Matthew’s.
Now that both stores are officially open, their owners are hoping to draw people in from other parts of town, too.
“I think there’ll be a lot more businesses moving in, so I think it’ll become a real destination,” said Pam Roberts, the owner of House Gifts and a Prospect resident for a little more than a year. “But at least for now we have a start, a place for people to come out and shop in Prospect.”
Roberts’ shop offers, as the name implies, a little something for everyone. Home decor items share space with gifts — some on the whimsical side and some a little more practical.
Aside from the variety of the selection, what might surprise shoppers about the store — located, after all, in a neighborhood where home prices start in the $300,000s — are the prices. They’re competitive with other similar, larger stores in town.
“I was going for that concept of good design — to kind of have that contemporary design, but not too contemporary, because you want to have something for everybody,” said Roberts, a first-time entrepreneur.
“I’ve actually been in the gift industry for more than 15 years, but I’ve always been on the manufacturing side,” she said. “Now it’s fun to be on the other side — I’ve always been the one selling to the stores, now I get to be the buyer. It’s kind of more fun.”
Maddie and Matthew’s stands out because much of what the store sells is its own, in-house brand.
Owned by Fernandez and partner Chum Tran, the store is named after two of their children — Fernandez’s daughter is named Madison, and Tran’s son is Matthew.
The two partners became instant friends when they met shortly after Fernandez and her husband moved here from southern California about a year ago.
“We just hit it off instantly,” Fernandez said this week, wrapping ribbons around folded baby blankets as she geared up for the opening.
With Tran’s business savvy — she’s a broker associate with Coldwell Banker — and Fernandez’s artistic flair, the two decided not only to open a store together but also to launch the Maddie and Matthew’s brand. They sell their own birth clothes, “Saigon jackets,” raincoats and chenille robes both in the store and online.
“I made a chair for Matthew last Christmas, and Chum said, ‘We’ve got to do something with this,’” said Fernandez, who also does custom painting of children’s rooms as part of the business.
Store patrons will see examples of her talent in the Maddie and Matthew’s baby blankets she designs and the decorations hanging on the walls.
Fernandez said Tran’s stepmother, who is Vietnamese, does all the sewing for the M&M; products.
Jessica’s husband designed the Web site, her father has helped build the counters, and Tran’s husband, Kacey, did the store’s lighting. “It’s been a labor of love,” Fernandez said.
Both House Gifts & Decor and Maddie and Matthew’s are holding their grand openings this weekend, and the stores — like the Prospect neighborhood itself — stand out.
“Last night I was here in my pajama pants (getting ready for the opening) and I had a lady come by — ‘Can I come in?’” Fernandez said. “I said ‘Sure, if you don’t mind the mess.’”
Tony Kindelspire can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 291, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.