The Alpaca Store & More! has been sitting there in its little white house on W. Boulder Street for about a decade. Formerly owned and operated by local musician Roy Burkett, earlier this year Kelly Graves and Matt Frey have taken on this icon of Ned retail – and they have big plans.
Both Frey and Graves have lived in the area for years, Frey most of his life and Graves since 1990. Their connection to the store and its product is almost hereditary: Frey’s mother was involved with Bette Rittinger’s alpaca ranch off Magnolia Road in Nederland.
In retail “most of their lives,” as Graves puts it, they were the logical choice for Burkett to choose as his successors at the store when he decided to retire. He had first approached the couple about two years ago, when they were not yet ready. But last fall, when they had already been thinking about starting their own business, Burkett’s offer was perfectly timed.
“We felt buying an established business was a good idea,” Graves commented. “Alpaca is something most people love. Great for our winters.” They also acquired a valued part-time employee, Kathleen Henningsen, who had worked for Burkett for many years. “She knows the business and how it operates.” They took over ownership of the store in January 2022.
The store is full of alpaca clothing, sweaters, hats, scarves, gloves, “and most of all –Socks!” Graves exclaims with a smile. In our freezing Rocky Mountain winters, socks knitted from the wool of creatures from the towering Andes prove to be especially effective.
But Frey and Graves are not limiting their stock to the traditional goods created in Peru. Many of their customers are looking for more than these traditional designs, and their plans for the future include bringing in clothing made from other natural fibers, including organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, and other sustainable fibers.
Meanwhile, they love “helping people find something to make them feel special,” while they deal with the problems still arising from the pandemic: “Product can be hit and miss on getting in. People in Peru are struggling to get dyes. [We’re waiting] for the supply chain to stabilize.”
They don’t have a website yet – “By summer?” Graves suggests. They know that a website will help them grow their business. “A web site should speed things up. But, we’re on mountain time,” she laughs.
Though their focus is on Nederland business, they will ship their products anywhere in the United States.
The Alpaca Store & More is located at 30 West Boulder Street in Nederland. You can reach them by phone at 303-258-1400.
Sponsored by the Town of Nederland, with funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.