It all started with the dragonfly.
I was hanging out downtown, browsing shop windows, when I saw it: a blue window ornament, with a kind of stained-glass, 1920s Art Deco feel. I knew it was something I would never find at Target or any other megastore. I considered the discovery a reward for shopping on Tejon Street.
And at $25, it was also something I could afford, unlike my other crushes: $237 capri sweatpants and a $327 yellow sundress.
Downtown Colorado Springs has gone through a number of changes over the past few years. Among the most notable: Small shops and boutiques with one-of-a-kind merchandise line the streets.
According to the Downtown Partnership's Beth Kosley, our downtown now sports 45 stores similar to the Promenade Shops at Briargate in both price and proximity to one another.
Some people are thrilled to have this little taste of Briargate or LoDo, or Pearl Street Mall in downtown Colorado Springs. But it made me wonder: If I want to take a summertime stroll downtown, will I be forced to do more window-shopping than actual shopping?
Terra Verde, at 208 N. Tejon St., is a well-established boutique, having opened 16 years ago. Today, it offers women's clothing and shoes, jewelry, home dcor, bath and body products, and lots of options for gift-giving. The formula's worked for owner Chris Sondermann, who says she loves her location.
"There is a nice community feel," Sondermann says, "and I like the concentration of boutiques."
Since Terra Verde expanded three years ago, two other fashion boutiques have popped up on the same block.
Idor opened downtown 5 years ago, and moved its Diesel, People's Liberation and Betsey Johnson clothing to 218 N. Tejon St., #100, a little more than two years ago.
"The Bijou location was a great place to start a business, but once established, Tejon is great," says owner Jackie Goode.
Goode says Colorado Springs' boutiques rival those of other big cities.
"I always go to other cities to look at boutiques, and Colorado Springs has some of the best," she says. "And it's great that they are all grouped together."
One of the newest additions in the boutique scene is LuLu. The shop at 214 N. Tejon St., features designer clothing and accessories for women and children. The bright white walls draw shoppers in and the selection of clothing including red-carpet-ready dresses makes them want to stay.
The Downtown Partnership says the increase in boutiques was never planned, but is being embraced.
"The boutiques are a great trend," says Kosley. "The cluster ... [is] welcome."
Is that cluster also a harbinger of things to come? Now that we've started going all high-fashion in our little urban core, is there any turning back?
"The new shops downtown seem to be here to stay," says Kosley.
And so, apparently, is the more upscale vibe. Four urban renewal areas near our city center promise more lofts, retail space, or art galleries (see "A mixed-use bag," Feb. 21).
For now, I'll just focus on one thing at a time. About that dragonfly: It's hanging in the window of my apartment. Capris? Snagged them on the clearance rack about a week later.
The sundress? Not gonna happen.