MONTROSE — When times are hard, communities have to pull together. That's how Rich Parr, manager of the Montrose Walgreens sees his plan to open a new section in the store that is devoted exclusively to Montrose.
The section will feature products from this area, Parr said, and will give a boost to some local small businesses.
“We could have postcards, note cards, souvenirs and possibly some food items,” he said. “Then we might expand into more products from the Western Slope, like Ouray, Ridgway and Telluride.”
Parr moved to Montrose about three years ago when the store opened. He said he and his wife jumped at the chance to move here because they used to come here on vacations.
“We love this area,” he said. “There's so much to do, and it's the friendliest clientele I've ever dealt with.”
Parr, who will have been with Walgreens for 20 years in February, said the company allows its managers a lot of latitude in how they run and stock their stores. Some guidelines apply to products they sell, but if the idea for promoting local products takes off, it could help a lot of locals sell their wares.
“It's the kind of thing we need to be doing,” he said. “We can't depend on government to stimulate everyone and we have to do it on our own. With the way the economy is, we have to think outside the box.”
To start with, Parr will feature T-shirts designed exclusively for the store, featuring photographs by Montrose photographer Lu Anne Tyrrell, he said. The shirts will be silk-screened by Laurie Abrahamson of Montrose Embroidery and should be on sale in about 10 days.
Parr said he's also considering setting up a table at Main in Motion on Thursdays to sell the T-shirts.
The idea for the T-shirts goes back to Tyrrell, who said when she moved here 10 years ago, she noticed there were no souvenirs that seemed to be made in Montrose.
“The whole aspect of Walgreens working with locals in huge,” she said.
Because a photographer friend had recommended Walgreens for good color prints, Tyrrell was at the Walgreens store the day it opened, met Parr and then got to know him better through their mutual involvement in the Montrose Chamber of Commerce. Tyrell told Parr about her idea for Montrose T-shirts a couple of years ago, she said, and they recently decided it was time to get the idea off the ground.
The T-shirt venture is being underwritten by Walgreens, Parr said, and he and Tyrrell came up with several final designs that will be printed in various sizes and colors.
One photo features the Black Canyon, an image that was recently featured on the cover of the Montrose Chamber's annual membership directory. Another is a close-up of Colorado wildflowers, while others show scenic shots from the area.
Parr said he will soon be considering other local vendors to feature in the “Montrose-only” section of the store.
“We'll use local vendors or manufacturers to stock it,” he said. “We're helping each other out, and we'll start and see how it grows. Everything has to have a beginning.”
Community involvement is important to Parr, so he's also participating in a fundraiser for Operation Sweet Tooth in the Walgreen's parking lot on July 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. The fundraiser will feature vintage cars from the Black Canyon Car Club he said, and proceeds will go to benefit military personnel stationed overseas. The event, with a patriotic theme, will feature giveaways and root beer floats.