The COVID pandemic postponed ribbon cuttings through the Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce. Even though some new Longmont businesses started operating in tumultuous 2020, they held events to celebrate their venture’s beginnings.
Jennifer Ferguson officially cut the red ribbon on Sept. 28 of her store Bricks Retail. The celebration came exactly one year from when she launched the company that sells products from local vendors.
Bricks Retail has gone through a huge evolution over the last year, Ferguson said. It began as a pop-up store at the Longmont Downtown Development Association’s office on 320 Main Street when Ferguson was running an accelerator for local product companies through Innovate Longmont. The retail business later found its permanent home at 512 Fourth Ave #103.
For Ferguson, holding a belated ribbon cutting meant she could bring the people who supported her mission and several of the 70 Bricks Retail vendors together in one spot. Outside behind the store, multiple vendors had booths to sell their goods and wares.
“I am just blown away by the growth that has happened here, and today is not just about Bricks and me. It's about all the people that make up what this is,” Ferguson said to the attendees Tuesday afternoon. “It was exactly one year ago today that I saw that there was a need for not a one-size-fits-all model for retail. So I boldly and foolishly said, I'm reinventing retail, and now I'm rediscovering retail with all of you.”
Ribbon cuttings serve as a time for business owners to pause from their busy schedules, Ferguson said. She added that, like birthday parties, it’s a time to celebrate with others.
“Ceremonies and celebrations are an important part of how we connect with each other. So it's just important to have that date and time,” Ferguson said.
The Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce hosts about 60 ribbon cuttings annually in a normal year, officially recognizing its new business members, according to Membership Director Karen Stallard.
The pandemic halted celebrations, and the business organization tentatively started hosting ribbon cuttings in May this year. Stallard said ribbon cuttings are an important ceremony for business owners to open their doors and introduce themselves to the community.
Despite the uncertainty of owning a business during the uncertainty of COVID, the chamber saw several business owners signing up as members with 63 businesses in 2020 and 44 members so far this year. Though that does not mean all new chamber members started operating during that time, Stallard referred to the growth as progress in the Longmont business community.
“We still had an amazing amount of businesses that not only joined the chamber but were brand new to business, opening their doors during a pandemic, deciding to go into business during a pandemic,” Stallard said. “And so to celebrate now, I think it just shows that you don't go into business just because times are perfect. You go into business because it's a way of life, and being able to celebrate that we can do that as a community at this time I think it's really meaningful for these business owners.”
Ferguson’s friend Lisa Patchem helped with preparing the opening of Bricks Retail last year. Shortly after on Nov. 21 last year, Patchem opened her own store Snarkington’s Gifts at 324 Main St next to the then pop-up.
Patchem got to hold the giant golden scissors at the ribbon cutting of her eclectic gift shop on Sept. 23, the week before Bricks Retail’s event. She said it was serendipitous to both start new ventures and celebrate their ribbon cuttings together.
Patchem compared ribbon cutting ceremonies to weddings, in the way that “you want your family and friends to be there to witness the beginning of your new adventure.” She’s excited to see her friends again and to attend celebrations for other Longmont businesses.
“It's good exposure, and it's good to get your name out for sure. But it's a milestone, it's more of a rite of passage or a ritual for businesses,” Patchem said. “Sometimes as entrepreneurs, we are so busy, getting everything ready and trying to brand, and pay payroll and stuff that it’s fun just to be recognized, for one, and I guess self reflect about what you are building where you're at.”
When the chamber was open to scheduling ribbon cuttings again, Patchem jumped on the first date that worked for her. Though Snarkington’s will reach its one year anniversary soon, she is grateful for the delay.
Having more time allowed Patchem to build the new business. She was able to gain more capital to buy more inventory and had time to find her clientele and evaluate what products sold.
Patchem also installed a LED sign for the Snarkington’s storefront, designed window decals and decorated the interior.
“Because of COVID, the LACC was not offering official ribbon cuttings so all the new businesses such as mine had to wait until things could be figured out. I’m actually grateful for this delay because it’s given me time to settle into my new business,” Patchem said in an email. “Snarkington’s now looks like I wanted it to be a year ago. This is the gift shop I want everyone to see. So now I’m ready to celebrate with my community!”