I Heart Denver’s “buy local” business template really works: The store initially showcases Colorado artists, giving them visual merchandising guidance, prime shelf space and a bigger cut of the profits, but it also shows off Denver’s creative face to the world. Returns cycle right back into the creative community, just as it was designed to do.
I Heart Denver’s footprint expanded in 2015 with a second store at Southwest Plaza in Littleton, Colorado, breaking into a new demographic and allocating additional opportunities for Colorado-based artists. Now serving a stable of more than 200 creatives statewide, I Heart Denver has earned its place as a successful sustainable incubator, garnering awards and attention from the press and the community. I Heart Denver touches the careers of more than 200 artists daily, generating more than 3.7 million dollars in consignment payments to Colorado creative-focused businesses and cottage industries. Artists working with the store say the I Heart Denver experience has been both educational and profitable.
I Heart Denver consignee Cindi Herleman, a photographer who also hand-sews stuffed animals and nursery-wall art, says, “Working with the I Heart Denver Stores has helped me grow my businesses locally by leaps and bounds. I’ve been in business for ten years and have sold my goods nationwide in a variety of brick-and-mortar stores. The best decision I ever made was to focus on selling locally, and I Heart Denver stores are the best-selling stores of my career. I am humbled to be counted amongst the talented and unique artists featured at I Heart Denver!”
As an employer, the store’s paid staff has grown from three to as many as twelve part-time sales associates in seven years. I Heart Denver is working now to be in full compliance with Colorado’s recommended $12 minimum wage for 2020 as early as 2019. Through our social media pages on Facebook and Instagram, I Heart Denver reaches tens of thousands of viewers every month. Our posts are focused on educating the consumer about what Colorado artists and designers are making, while promoting what customers can find in the store. Visit the I Heart Denver Facebook pages and use the Instagram hashtag #iheartdenverstore to see what we have been up to.
Customer service is another big reason why the I Heart Denver model works. With a well-trained staff, a working understanding of its creative suppliers and a positive outlook, I Heart Denver makes an impression on everyone who walks into the store, whether they are buying or selling. It’s the personal touches that make any small business great, and I Heart Denver has found the key. We invite you to visit our stores and experience the vibrant creative environment for yourself.
Steady growth for Colorado's Creative Economy
Since I Heart Denver first launched at the Denver Pavilions in 2011, total sales have risen steadily to the advantage of Colorado artists and designers supplying the store’s shelves. Makers receive 30 percent more in consignment profits than they would under the standard 50/50 gallery commission model.