Malissa and Scott Spero
Owners, ArmAzem Bookstore & Cafe
3215 East Colfax Avenue
Years on Colfax: One week (they just bought the business)
"We spent a year teaching ESL in Korea, and we were dreaming about owning a coffee shop. When we got back, Scott saw an ad on Craig's List, so we came by and snooped. We both went to DU, but what we remember and what Colfax is now is completely different. I never would have walked around Colfax by myself. All the business owners just kind of wander in and have been very supportive."
Owner (with A.J. Gallegos): SpiritWays
3301 East Colfax Avenue
Years on Colfax: 9
"I moved here because I liked the exposure and I didn't want to be in a strip mall. We love the neighborhood, and more businesses have come in, which is wonderful. In the last couple of years, there has been more of a rebirth. The one thing we do need is more crosswalks. That would really help a lot."
3230 East Colfax Avenue
Years on Colfax: 2
"Our area of Colfax really shows what encouraging business can do for what was previously a pretty undesirable place to go. Sure, there are parking concerns, but that takes flexibility on both ends to solve. It's because of the businesses that the property values are so much higher. A lot of the apartment buildings are now condo-ed in what used to be $250-a-month slums."
Owner, Colfax Guitar Shop
3220 East Colfax Avenue
Years on Colfax: 7
"They should tear down the crack motel -- the 'ho-tel,' we call it. That would do a lot to change the street culture. It's not as bad as it was, but I still have to pay my quarterly crackhead tax in the form of a broken window or stolen car stereo. I'd love to get rid of the crackheads, but I don't want to make it so someone like me can't survive. We work our butts off to be broke."
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Owner, Collins' Bicycles
3217 East Colfax Avenue
Years on Colfax: 71
"We used to have three to four hooker fights per corner. Really smacking-each-other type stuff. But people started moving in the neighborhood, new families, and drove the prices of the homes up, and the seedier elements moved out to Aurora. I would love to see the bus stop moved or the shelter taken down so they can't stand there and drink and deal. But I can't see the new zoning affecting me at all. Maybe the neighbors should just tear down their Model-T-sized garages and build something their urban assault vehicles can fit into."
Owner (with Christy Laguardia), Babooska (formerly Hairspray)
3225 East Colfax Avenue
Years on Colfax: 1
"It's a shame that some of the neighbors don't support the businesses more. If I'd had to wait for this area to support me, I would have closed. But I already had a built-in clientele, so they come and shop at the other businesses, too. This area really is awesome, but it's not just the area. It's the business owners who moved in. If we all weren't small and handling things with care, it wouldn't be so progressive. If we didn't give a shit about each other, it wouldn't be the same. I've been really vigilant about the prostitutes. I relocated my business here; now they have to relocate theirs."
Owner, ism gallery
3229 East Colfax Avenue
Years on Colfax: 1
"As soon as I saw that Mezcal was open and that Atomic Cowboy was coming in, I knew the foot traffic would be good. And I wanted to be in the area, so I opened the shop. It used to be a hair-braiding place. I don't have any trouble with the hookers and the homeless. They can come in and look at the art if they want."
Manager, Bookmart East Adult
3309 East Colfax Avenue
Years on Colfax: 30
"I think the new zoning is good, but it doesn't affect us much. The whole thing is that if they do change this area, it just moves on to the next neighborhood, and somewhere else will be the drug zone."