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Colorado Retail Collection: History + Traditions

Garden of the Gods Trading Post Started Something Big

Garden of the Gods Trading Post was built by Charles Strausenback in 1929, but he had been selling his wares at the park since the age of ten. Strausenback would sell his own carvings or paintings to park-goers until he spent one summer taking pictures of tourists at Balanced Rock. The original Trading Post was built in traditional adobe style and spanned 2,000 square feet. Upon his death in 1967, Strausenback’s wife Esther continued running the post until it was acquired in 1979.

Over the next 20 years, the Trading Post was to see quite the expansion.

Tim and Terry Haas purchased the Trading Post and expanded it from the original 2,000 square feet to the 25,000 square feet it is today. The Trading Post now houses a restaurant, general store, one of the largest art galleries in Colorado as well as activities for the whole family.

The Hasses have since expanded to incorporate other stores in the Colorado Springs area within the Colorado Retail Collection under TAT Enterprises, Inc. Mountain High Gallery and Gifts, Mountain High Sportswear, Manitou Outpost, The Vault, and The Spark are a few of the places around town where you can find quality jewelry, gifts and art that celebrates the Colorado lifestyle.

Colorado Springs was founded with the vision of being a destination.

One hundred fifty years later, the mountain views and ample opportunity for activities allows us to continue to fulfill that dream. Tourism has always played a part in bringing people to the area and the Haas family has been a part of that growth for decades. Each location in The Collection is in a historical building with the hopes of bringing Colorado history to life for all who enter. The history is proudly displayed on their website and generally the staff have a few tidbits to share as well to enhance the Colorado shopping experience.

Not only were the number of stores in the area growing, but the company was, as well. Tim and Terry Haas transitioned the company over the years from a family-owned business to an employee-owned company. Many of the core employees have been with the company for decades and The Collection employs upwards of 200 employees in the height of the tourist season.

At the start of 2020, The Collection decided to branch out and include a clothing boutique to the fold. EllyBlue owner Pat Stark was a staple for years in her Old Colorado City location, providing exceptional customer service and casual Colorado style to locals and tourists alike. The Colorado lifestyle is a combination of colors and textures. It’s easy, but also put together and always ready for adventure. The shop location as well as the ambiance was just what the company strives for in all their shops and they asked Stark if she would be a part of The Collection.

The name of the boutique, EllyBlue, represents Stark’s dog Elly who has one blue eye and one brown eye. Coloradoans have a special affinity for their furry family members and when the opportunity was presented to add another boutique to The Collection in May of 2020, they expanded. Stella & Beau are the Haas family pups and the namesakes of the boutique. The names are a nod to the uniqueness of this boutique in that it offers both men's and women’s items.

The boutique business has taught The Collection that men’s clothing and gifts are a growing trend. David Maddox, President of TAT Enterprises, indicates that it’s easier to find either high end men’s clothiers or cheaper retailers, but there is a current void for boutique menswear and gifts. The Colorado lifestyle lends itself perfectly to boutique wear and they didn’t want to leave out their male clientele.

The Colorado Retail Collection is interwoven into Colorado Springs' culture and is a champion of voicing the traditions and history that have gotten us to where we are now. A vital part of the local economy as well as preservationists of our history and architecture, the Colorado Retail Collection makes sure to give back where they can. It is a core value to give back to the community and within that, they donate $100,000 per year to support the upkeep of Garden of the God’s park.

It’s not difficult to support local families, business owners, historians, and artists. In fact, The Colorado Retail Collection has made it their business to make it as easy as possible. Saunter in soon to pick out your very own piece of the Colorado lifestyle, and make sure to say hello to your patrons. Odds are, you have something in common and there is usually something to be learned.   

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