New owners of The Ore Cart Rock Shop continue a 50-year tradition – Estes Park Trail-Gazette

According to Jim Hull, The Ore Cart Rock Shop in downtown Estes is all about three things: selling quality products, at a fair price, with great service. It’s probably this simple, honest approach to business that has kept The Ore Cart’s doors open since 1972: surviving floods, fires and a global pandemic when so many other Estes Park businesses have not. not done.

Along with his wife Betty, Hull owned the Ore Cart Rock Shop for 50 years, before selling it to Andrea and Steve Colburn on July 1.

The Ore Cart story began after Hull earned a degree in marketing and finance from the University of Colorado. Hull wanted to buy his own business, and after seeing a friend’s rock shop that looked like what Ore Cart would eventually be, Hull became interested.

“I thought there were a lot of people out there with rock shops who didn’t know a thing about business, how about someone who doesn’t know anything about rock shops, but has some business. business background,” Hull said.

After borrowing a $5,000 loan to buy his own rock shop, Hull worked towards his goal, buying books on mineralogy, paleontology, and geology, and teaching himself how to polish and cut minerals.

Fast forward to the present day, and the walls of The Ore Cart are covered in hundreds of harlequin minerals, fossils, meteorites and many more such natural wonders. The amassed collection is sourced from around the world for dealers in Africa, Russia, Australia and “every other continent apart from Antarctica”, as Hull put it. Hull meets these dealers at trade shows like the world’s largest gem and mineral show in Tucson which he attends every year.

  • Mine cart filled with geodes for customers to open. (Matthew Poust/Estes Park Trail-Gazette)

  • Box showing different types of colored crystals and minerals (Matthew...

    Case showing different types of colored crystals and minerals (Matthew Poust/Estes Park Trail-Gazette)

  • Showcase presenting several types of multicolored minerals. (Matthew Poust/Estes...

    Case showing several types of multicolored minerals. (Matthew Poust/Estes Park Trail-Gazette)

  • Shelves full of vases.  (Matthew Poust/Estes Park Trail-Gazette)

    Shelves full of vases. (Matthew Poust/Estes Park Trail-Gazette)

  • Shelves stacked with vases.  (Matthew Poust/Estes Park Trail-Gazette)

    Shelves stacked with vases. (Matthew Poust/Estes Park Trail-Gazette)

  • Shelves of animal fossils.  (Matthew Poust/Estes Park Trail-Gazette)

    Shelves of animal fossils. (Matthew Poust/Estes Park Trail-Gazette)

  • Pieces of petrified wood and bookends.  (Matthew Poust/Estes Park Trail-Gazette)

    Pieces of petrified wood and bookends. (Matthew Poust/Estes Park Trail-Gazette)

Over the store’s half-century of business, The Ore Rock’s location has remained the same, but its surroundings have changed, according to Hull.

“When I got here I made the decision to stay open year round, when most places were closing for the winter, and let me tell you, you could have fired a cannonball at Elk Horn Avenue in January and never hit anyone,” Hull said. “It was a whole different ballgame back then, but I think that’s changed for the better. The town of Elkhorn has improved a lot after the floods we’ve had over the years, and now it’s more of a welcoming place. I think that’s what attracts so many people.

Andrea and Steve Colburn entered the framework a few months ago when they too started looking for a business to own. Andrea explained that they weren’t exactly sure what they wanted, but they knew they wanted a family business that their two sons could be part of.

Then one day, as fate would have it, Andrea was contacting a broker about a business in Texas when she discovered The Ore Cart was for sale. Residing in Loveland, the Colburn family had taken their children there on several occasions, and Steve even grew up visiting the shop with his family.

“I turned to my kids and said, hey, should we own your favorite rock store in Estes!? And of course they said yes,” Andrea said. rock store, but it was definitely a god thing for us.I don’t know anything about rocks, but I’ve definitely learned a lot over the past two months.

As for Hull, although he no longer owns The Ore Cart, he stayed on to help out with the business and introduce the Colburns to dealers at trade shows. As they learn more about the Hull business, Andrea Colburn says they will continue to do what Jim has been doing for 50 years.

“We hear a lot of people say, I was here as a kid and now I’m bringing my kids or my grandkids,” Andrea said. “There is so much history in the store, not only from Jim’s perspective as owner, but also in the community. This is definitely an Estes Park staple.