RIDGWAY – When I walked in to Ridgway’s new western wear and interior design store, on the boardwalk next to the True Grit Cafe, John Denver’s high tenor was singing “Colorado Rocky Mountain High.” Could it have been more iconic?
“He’s our best seller,” said Timber Creek owner Rob Rose, an Easterner who fell in love with the West as a boy. “Along with Marty Robbins and Emmylou Harris.”
Rose was sitting behind an antique desk in a hand-tooled leather armchair with his cowboy boots on and large oil paintings and gicleé prints of horses and mountains filling the walls behind him and spilling out into the floor space.
Someone in Rose’s interior-design past told him it was good to appeal to as many senses as you can. And he has done that in this new space jammed with all things western. There’s the music, the smell of leather, the warmth of the stone fireplace in the corner, the feel of brick and barn wood, racks of shearling coats (“I have a really good deal on these right now”), tables piled with fancy western shirts.
Rose, who opened Timber Creek in June, had been waiting patiently to make a move to the San Juans for more than 20 years. “Twenty years ago I had a space lined up in the Mountain Village in Telluride. But it was sold out from under me. So I moved up to Bainbridge Island, Wash., and opened an art gallery there. I’ve been trying to get back here ever since.”
When Rose was 11 or 12, on his first family trip out West, “I decided I wanted to be a park ranger. Of course, my parents said that was no kind of job.” So Rose trained in home furnishings and fine art. His firm in New York City designed the corporate offices of Sony Music in a western theme, though “most of the design work was more traditional.”
While on Bainbridge Island, Rose fulfilled his ranger fantasy. “I spent four or five years as a ranger at Mount Rainier National Park.” Then he opened the original Timber Creek store in Redmond, Wash. (“which most people know as the home of Microsoft”), just east of Seattle. But he kept “checking the classifieds for years” for a place in southwest Colorado. “This last winter I stumbled on this building. It suits my style – the fireplace, the courtyard out back.” Yellow cottonwood leaves drifted down on Rose’s welded mariachi sculptures behind the chartreuse chairs framing the fire pit.
Walk-in business has been good, Rose said, owing perhaps to his location on the boardwalk and right across the street from town park. “People walk in and fall in love with the feel of the place. They’re not going to walk out with a hair-on-cowhide couch.” But they might walk out with a Hopi kachina doll. Or a piece of Navajo silver jewelry. Or even a Ryan Michael shirt or a pair of hand-tooled, hand-painted Old Gringo boots.
Rose hopes the interior design part of the business will grow. His furniture pieces include a surprising pop-up flat screen TV hidden inside a barn wood cabinet by Western Heritage Furniture out of Jerome, Ariz. He has cultivated suppliers from Texas to Montana, and artists from Telluride to Taos.
But for now he’s happy to see folks coming in and browsing, breathing it all in. Some of them even walk out with a CD by Johnny Colorado.