Over the past five years, the annual growth rate for women-owned firms has been more than double that of all businesses and the total number of women-owned businesses has seen a 21.3% boost in the same time period. Denver is even said to be one of the best places for women to open a business. Even so, women only own 29% of Denver metro businesses, meaning men own 71%. In Olde Town Arvada, three women-owned businesses are making an effort to change that through uprooting stereotypes and helping others rise up.
Spirits Wine Provisions
Nestled between Rheinlander Bakery and So Radish on Olde Wadsworth Blvd is Spirits Wine Provisions (SWP). The location was previously occupied by another wine shop until early 2020 when owners Emelye and Casey Adler took over the space. SWP is noticeably less stuffy and much more fun to walk into — peep the paintings of the couple’s three chihuahuas near the register and the cute dogs making themselves at home behind the counter.
Emelye is a level two sommelier and can pick out your next favorite wine after about 30 seconds of conversation. “Wine shouldn’t be overdramatized,” she said. SWP offers a range of wines — not just mainstream varieties — along with a large selection of natural and organic wines. “It’s fun to try new things. I keep a record of what clients buy so I can make recommendations in the future if they really liked a bottle,” Emelye said. And, if you’re really into trying new bottles, SWP has a wine club. For $35.99 per month, you get two bottles per month that are usually unique, small-batch wines that you won’t find anywhere else. You’ll also be the first to know about events at the store like tastings, cheese pairings and more. We also heard that you may get exclusive access to a secret tasting room if you ask to “help pack boxes in the stockroom.” If anyone asks, you didn’t hear it from us…
There are a few industries that are almost completely dominated by men — crude oil trucking and whiskey — and Sheena Gordon works in both of them. After growing up in Kentucky she started working in crude oil trucking — where she was the only woman at her company — and worked her way up to CEO. Now, she owns multiple businesses and is constantly searching for more growth opportunities. “I’m a big type A personality and never felt like I had any boundaries just because I’m a woman. I think having the confidence to do it is the reason for my success,” she said.
After getting in a groove with her other companies she opened The Bluegrass Lounge in Olde Town. The Bluegrass is known for its large selection of bourbon, live music and artisan pizza. “Most of the bourbon comes from Kentucky but we also support local businesses as much as we can,” Gordon said. In the mornings you can also swing by and grab coffee, a breakfast burrito or a breakfast sandwich. She also just opened a second location in West Arvada that has a larger menu due to the extra kitchen space. “When I said I was going to use the small space in the Olde Town location as a kitchen people thought I was crazy. It was literally a closet,” she laughed.
Next on her roadmap for The Bluegrass is to start brewing beer and distilling bourbon. “We just started roasting our own coffee and I think it would be awesome to have our own beer and bourbon, too. We’re planning on making a lot of coffee beers and aging beers in bourbon barrels.” Keep an eye out for more concepts from The Bluegrass later this year.
Ally Skiba is the new kid on the block in Olde Town. She opened Electric Cherry — an art collective — in January of 2020 and has had her fair share of hurdles to jump through ever since. From starting her own version of First Fridays during the lockdown to writing poetry and selling her own photography, she’s been able to use her talents to help her through the ups and downs of the pandemic. The art collective houses work from over 50 artists and everything is free form and one-of-a-kind.
“I try to work with as many local artists as possible and promote social good,” Skiba said. She creates unique gallery walls with themes surrounding nature, music and feminism and even includes some of her own artwork. “I love creating joy through nature,” she said of her photography, “Now that I have the shop, I write free verse poetry to stay creative.”
The unique, vintage feel of the shop and large collection of vinyl records gives you the sense that she has an old soul — and she does. Her love of music comes from her grandfather, who used to press manually for 30 years after World War II and is currently the oldest remaining employee of Specialty Records at the age of 96. “Vinyl is the heartbeat of the shop and music is a big part of my life,” Skiba explained. During the warmer months, she even made appearances at the Bluegrass Lounge down the street for “Turntable Tuesdays” where she would play records on the front patio.
Electric Cherry is a fun place to stop by to check out local artists, discover new artisan goods and listen to some vinyl on your next stroll through Olde Town Arvada.
Whichever women-owned business you choose to shop at, by supporting one you’re supporting all. Through these three wine, whiskey and art shops you could make a real difference in the Arvada community and help lift up women even further.
All photography by Brittany Werges, unless otherwise noted.