GRAG closes its doors

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Gore Range Artisans Group decided to close the gallery last week. The door now has a closed sign on it. Other retail shops in the perimeter of the gallery or the village are currently still open.

The Gore Range Artisans Group (GRAG) recently decided to close its doors last week after nearly six years of business.
The GRAG operated as a member-owned cooperative, and at the time of the vote, there were six members.
GRAG president Leslie Crosby cited diminished members as one of the obstacles in keeping the co-op running. Within the last year, GRAG had lost five full members.

Crosby was originally attracted to GRAG for the opportunity to work with aspiring artists, but admitted it was hard to keep the momentum going.

“When the full membership dwindled to a small pool of workers, it was decided that it would be too difficult to keep the gallery open at least 30 hours per week while still maintaining the building, art displays, accounting books, and media marketing aspects of the business,” Crosby commented.

She explained, “The remaining full members took up the slack and doubled up on some of the duties. Meanwhile, each full member cast out personal invitations to potential new artists to join GRAG. The gallery was successful in attracting diverse, new associate (consignment) members, which helped with cash flow but did not solve the daily operations challenges.”

DiAnn Butler, Grand County Economic Development Director, who was involved in the initial process of the gallery, emphasized, “They need to celebrate those six years. This was a success story. They did a lot of great work together. It was a wonderful example of an artist collaboration.”

“I think it could come back around again in a different evolution,” she said positively. “I am hopeful that the collaboration that occurred allows them to keep moving in a different format.” Dave Skinner, a founding member of GRAG, commented, “It wasn’t an easy decision. There were just too few members.” He recalled the history of GRAG whose concept originated from a Downtown Assessment study.

“Originally, there were 21 individuals working to make it happen. Of the founding members, Rhea Gallagher, Jerri Thornton, Chris Porter and Jim White were still there. There was a lot of wheels moving,” he said.

Skinner noted the success of the project was mainly due to generosity of Gary Bumgarner who owned the building and helped make the project feasible. Skinner estimates that $85,000 worth of art sales occurred during the last five and
half years of GRAG being opened. Crosby noted, “While the art gallery itself has closed, the retail shops around the perimeter are still open.”

The retail shops are Cirque De Freak Body Art, Keepsake Custom Framing and Gifts, and Keepsake Christmas Shoppe. Jerri Thornton, who owns the gift shops, said,

“We are still open for business and want to keep our options open.” Crosby concluded, “The artists and artisans you know are still in the area and may be contacted individually regarding the sale of their items.” She then gratefully added, “The Gore Range Artisans Group, all past and present members, would like to thank Gary Bumgarner for the use and conversion of the historic Bob’s Western Motel buildings. They would also like to thank the community for its tremendous support over the years. It was a good run!”

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