Owners: Deb Groesser, Julie Grillo, Judi Mitchell, Ruth Hand, Vicki McCargar, Cher Schmidt, Liz Williams, Cecilia Fuller, Stephen Huth, Beatrice Rudolph, Alesa Locklear, Lisa Hawks, Marge Corcoran, Judi Sevel, Judy Scherpelz, Michelle Rudolph, Rhea Ferranti, Joan Carol, Tanya Horacek, and JoAnn Hovland
“We’re not your typical art gallery – we have fun!”
What do you think makes our Fort Collins business community so special?
It takes a dream, grit, passion, and determination to open and successfully operate a small business. There are a million moving parts that are constantly on the owners’ mind. Fort Collins small business owners are a hardy bunch who start up unique and diverse businesses, think creatively, listen to their customers, join the Chamber, and possess a dogged determination to not only succeed, but to thrive.
What advice would you give to community members who are looking for ways to support our local businesses?
Always have the mindset to Shop Local. In 2020, the number of small businesses in the U.S. reached 31.7 million, making up nearly all (99.9 percent) U.S. businesses. Small businesses employ 58.9 million people, which makes up 47.5% of the country’s total employee workforce.
As of June 2017, there were 8,500 small businesses in Fort Collins. That seriously outweighs the 40 or so large and chain businesses in town. Set yourself apart by being creative in your shopping choices to find unique products and service providers. Check out the Chamber of Commerce web site to seek out small businesses in your area.
The Blue Moose Art Gallery offers a variety of classes and workshops, check the class schedule.
What’s one thing that would surprise people about your business?
Actually, there are four things: 1. After only four years in business, we won “Best Art Gallery, NOCO 2020,” and are nominated in three categories in 2021 – Best Art Gallery, Best Gift Store, and Best Local Artist. 2. We’re the only art gallery in Fort Collins that offers over 15 adult art classes in a variety of mediums every month. 3. We’re comprised of 21 owners who come from all walks of life and share management of the gallery. Our ownership model is unique in that our owners are not employees, but volunteers. 4. We promote students in a variety of ways including inviting student artists to display their art in the gallery at no cost, partner with local high schools for fundraisers, and hold student art shows to benefit their art program.
What do you love most about running a business in Fort Collins?
Greeting our customers who call The Moose their “happy place.” New and returning customers walk through our door and are marveled by the size and beauty of the gallery. They flock to our classes that are taught by our professional artists. We laugh and share stories together, and it’s fun to see smiling faces at our events (in early June we had baby goats, a food truck, live music in the parking lot, and many families stopped by to shop and to cuddle a goat).
Do you have any special events, promotions, and products upcoming you would like to share with the community?
The Blue Moose is known for our fun and creative events that we host throughout the year. Upcoming are our Featured Artists events where several artists conduct live demos, plus live music, door prizes, and light refreshments. The upcoming dates are November 27th, and December 4th, 11th, and 18th. Check our events page for all the details.
Every month we have a different Guessing Jar where folks guess the number of items in the jar. The winning number wins either a gallery gift certificate, or a special prize donated by one of our artists.
There’s always something new at the gallery. With over 85 Colorado artists and a 2,500 square foot gallery, we’re displaying new art every week.
How has the pandemic and challenges of the last year changed the way you do business?
The Blue Moose opened in 2016 and was beginning to enjoy a respectable financial trajectory when the pandemic hit. It took determination and creativity to pivot the current brick-and-mortar model into a digital model. The owners rallied to identify ideas to stay afloat, e.g., created an online sales site, developed virtual and on-demand classes, sold online gift certificates with an altruistic twist, offered curbside pickup, overhauled our website, personally called customers, received an SBA loan, refreshed the gallery, started throwing parking lot parties, and increased our communications to maintain a presence. We’re continuously implementing new marketing ideas, new classes, and hosting fun events to keep our customers returning to their “Happy Place!”