Lorig’s Western retailer first opened downtown in 1932 where the Plaza of the Rockies stands today. Its state tax identification number was 25.
“Today they’re like six or eight digits long,” said Scott Roney, who bought the business in 2008 and moved it Aug. 1 to its new location at 2611 W. Colorado Ave.
Roney, with partner Jo Nelson, relocated to Old Colorado City from the corner of Pikes Peak Avenue and Union Boulevard following the purchase of their current building. Roney said Lorig’s has shifted focus from primarily selling uniforms, which at one time made up more than 60 percent of his bottom line, to mainly retailing Western wear.
He said the move was as much about rebranding as it was about relocating, and that meant adopting a new frame of mind.
“It’s been a mindset change to move away from uniforms back into Western wear,” he said. “It’s more fun. We were getting away from the fun.”
Though it was established as a sort of mercantile, Roney said Lorig’s began dealing in a little bit of everything. Prior to establishing the store, the Lorig family had been in the wholesale dry goods business, and repeat customers included mining camps and trading posts in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico, according to the store’s website.
Lorig’s began producing uniforms, its primary source of income, during World War II. Following the war, they added the Western wear component.
A portion of the business still focuses on providing uniforms for clients operating out of Shriever Air Force Base, the Air Force Academy and Mountain Metropolitan Transit.
But Roney is focused on shifting the emphasis from function to fashion.
A new plan
Roney said he purchased the store as the result of “a mid-life crisis.”
“I ran the operations side of a truck equipment house in Commerce City,” Roney said, adding he had no prior retail clothing experience. “I was in mid-level management for a large corporation for many years. I got tired of working my way up just to get kicked back to the bottom. I decided to take control of my future and buy a business.
“This business has a lot of history in Colorado Springs. It’s been around forever. … I figured this would be something new and interesting, and I would be able to meet a lot of interesting people.”
Roney said Old Colorado City better fits the image he is striving to present.
“I kind of thought it was a fit,” he said. “When we were on Union, there was lots of drive-by traffic, but no walking traffic. We wanted that walking traffic. Plus, Old Colorado City has a good feel to it. It’s a younger, hipper, trendier atmosphere. I like the nostalgia and character of the older buildings.”
Roney said he initially considered moving the business back to downtown Colorado Springs, but many of the issues that led to its departure still remained.
“Parking for older clientele was a big one,” he said. “I also have some friends who were in the process of moving their businesses out of downtown who told me not to locate there.”
Roney said it also was because local artist Michael Garman, a repeat customer at Lorig’s, suggested Roney consider the Westside. Garman’s encouragement eventually led to his relocating.
“Until I talked to him, I’d never considered it,” Roney said. “So we put our feelers out and the building found us.”
He said cost was a factor in looking for the store’s new location, but finding the right fit was the bigger priority.
“[Commercial real estate] seems to all be expensive right now,” he said. “But this [move] wasn’t so much a money issue. Not because we have too much of it, but it was about finding the right deal. … This just felt right.”
Broadening the base
Roney said, because of the late-summer move, Lorig’s missed much of the tourist season that drives Westside businesses, but he added that relocating already appears to have been the right choice.
“I think we’re talking to many more people here,” he said. “Our closing ratio is off because, at the old location, if someone was driving over to visit us, they were halfway sold before they got there. We were a destination location.
“Here, we talk to a lot of people who are kicking the tires while out on a Saturday or Sunday. They may never buy from us. … So we have to figure out what we’ll sell to those people who are just out to enjoy the day. We don’t really have anything at this point.”
Roney said his existing client base is mainly composed of locals, but the move should draw more seasonal visitors, and just in time for the store’s planned November launch of online ordering capabilities.
“Our existing client base is very much locals who return,” he said. “We’re very fortunate to have them. But now we’re finding a lot of people in the store who are not from here, and we ship products to them.”
Roney said the majority of his marketing is word-of-mouth, but he expects his social media and online presence to increase.
“We moved this business here in three days, which I would not recommend,” Roney said.
“Ever since, we’ve been trying to make it our own. It’s a little bit overwhelming, but it’s been a good move.”