Awardee: Colfax Downtown Association
Award: Economic Vitality
The Colfax Mercantile was first imagined by the Colfax Downtown Association’s Economic Vitality committee – researching business incubator programs in other towns to pick just the right pieces to fit their vision. They knew they wanted to attract and educate entrepreneurs about how to run a business so they could fill storefronts and bring a buzz back to historic downtown buildings. They began by saving one themselves.
The 1893 Ellis-Waite building on Main Street had been vacant and boarded up for 15 years when a partnership between the Economic Vitality committee and local business owners Laura and Austin Storm determined that one of the three storefronts within the property would become the Colfax Mercantile. The other storefronts are also being revitalized with plans for the Storms to expand their retail business already underway. The Mercantile vision added incentive to the investment being made by the Storms, who say they feel like there is a Colfax downtown revival going on right now.
That downtown revival includes seven new businesses that are being incubated in the Colfax Mercantile that now offer vintage finds, frozen yogurt, homemade cookies, furniture, and clothing. The new incubator businesses have created a ripple effect on Main Street – more shops are opening, more storefronts are being updated and filled, and more people from surrounding areas are recognizing Colfax as the gem that it is.
The Downtown Association, Chamber of Commerce, County and City, Mayor, business owners, and citizens all pitched in to make this business incubator a reality – from sweat equity updating the storefront to donating 80 umbrellas to create a one-of-a-kind ceiling display, this is truly a community project.