Jack Quinn’s- the best Irish Coffee

It’s the perfect time of year for an Irish Coffee- why not go downtown, where the parking is free all day on Saturdays and Sundays during December. Do some Christmas shopping (buy local!) and then reward your virtuous self with a delicious, authentic, hot Irish Coffee at Jack Quinn’s.

Irish Coffee at Jack Quinn's, Colorado Springs

Irish Coffee at Jack Quinn's, Colorado Springs

 

Festival of Lights Parade and other free downtown Colorado Springs events

The Festival Of Lights Parade is a super cheezy small town affair. But it’s fun to sit wrapped in a blanket on a lawn chair in the cold drinking spiked hot chocolate out of a thermos (bring your own supplies). The parade starts at 5:50 on Saturday December 3rd at Tejon and St. Vrain.

The Festival Of Lights Parade, downtown Colorado Springs, December 3rd 5:50PM

The Festival Of Lights Parade, downtown Colorado Springs, December 3rd 5:50PM

Before the parade there’s a kind of neat concert called Tuba Christmas which is a band made up of tuba players! They’ll be in Acacia Park at 4:00.

In the afternoon on Saturday, you can go to The Pioneer’s Museum at 215 S. Tejon St. for Children’s Holiday Magic — There’s music and entertainment, including the Springs Singers, a magician, crafts, activities for kids and more, 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

And don’t forget, there’s free parking every Saturday and Sunday downtown at all the meters during the month of December. Shop local!

STOP! THIEF!

My greatest caper came when I was 15 and brilliantly stole a car stereo from Wal-Mart in Branson, Mo. Back then, the greeter put a green sticker on anything you brought in, so I purchased a cheap Roadmaster stereo, brought it back and clandestinely put the green sticker on a fancy Sony stereo (with auto-reverse cassette!) and walked out the front door. They stopped me in the parking lot, but I showed them the green sticker, and they let me go. Ocean’s 11, anyone? That’s right, people, I am that slick.

Since then, though, I have not done a lot of stealing. While I do have some trouble periodically with “laws,” and authority (and sometimes I drive too fast), shoplifting just isn’t my thing.

So it was with great surprise to be confronted at Sportsman’s Warehouse a while back right in the middle of the store by an employee accusing me of stealing 99-cent flies.

Here’s what happened: My friend Andrew and I were looking over the flies, and he was putting some in the plastic cups the store provides. We were discussing the merits of the black ant vs. the Woolly Bugger, dries vs. nymphs, the color chartreuse.

At some point, a Santa-Claus-looking worker steps up and says: Hey, guys, when you’re getting flies, go ahead and put them in these plastic cups and not in your pocket.

I looked over at Andrew’s cup, which had a half-dozen or so flies in it, then it occurred to me: My pocket? Wait, are you accusing me of putting flies in my pocket? Of stealing? Really?

Santa said that, yes, “someone” said they saw me put flies in my pocket, and he motioned to the observation deck surrounding the store. “Someone.” Is that someone a manager? Because it’s a crowded Saturday afternoon and this guy’s just publicly shamed me and accused me of stealing 99-cent flies. I’m going to need to talk to someone about this. I might have suggested he put his hands in my pockets to see what might be in there. I might have also told him that if I were to steal anything from this store, it would be big and expensive and I would get away with it. I might have caused a small scene.

Couple things here. You have a pretty irate customer on your hands asking to talk to a manager who’s upstairs, don’t just hand him the phone. If you’re a manager and you just called someone out wrongly, you take the time to march your ass downstairs and apologize in person.

Eventually, of course, the manager finds the time to come downstairs. He explained to me that they were using what’s called “enhanced customer service,” a loss-prevention strategy wherein a worker approaches a shoplifter and offers exaggerated service. This lets the shoplifter know he’s caught, and what will likely happen in most cases is the thief will go to another part of the store and dump the goods. Enhanced customer service would have looked something like this: Hey, guys, I see you’re considering the Blue-Wing Olive. Nice choice. You might also consider the Elk-Hair Caddis or the Parachute Adams. Can I tell you about our San Juan Worms?

Instead, Santa offered “hey, don’t put shit in your pockets” as his “enhanced customer service.” The manager explained that, yes, they really blew it on implementing that tactic. He explained, too, that they’ve been having a lot of trouble with people stealing flies and that they might be overly suspicious. So I got caught up in a botched-up loss-prevention maneuver because they can’t protect their inventory properly.

I wrote a letter to district manager Mike Murray out in Utah, because I had some suggestions.

A couple of ideas for what seem to be some serious problems in the Colorado Springs store:

  • If the “enhanced customer service” strategy is a proven theft deterrent, workers should be trained to use it properly. Simply accusing someone (wrongly) just creates tension.
  • If I’m a manager of a store, and this mistake had been made, I’d be on the floor before the customer even asked for me. I’d be there in person to apologize personally and in earnest. I would not have my employee hand the customer a phone. I would certainly not blame the fiasco on an overreaction because we’re unable to prevent theft.
  • If enough of your inventory is being lost to theft, it’s probably time to look at alternative display methods. Or perhaps it would be worthwhile to redistribute staffing from an area of the store that sells harder-to-steal items (boats?) to the fishing area.

A few weeks later, Mr. Murray wrote back: A tepid, one-sentence “thanks, I’ll look into it” email. “Enhanced” customer service? I’d settle for regular customer service at this point.

Everybody be cool this is a robbery, Sportsman's Warehouse, Colorado Springs

Everybody be cool, this is a robbery! I'm going to walk around with this bag, and I want you to put all your fly fishing gear in there: flies, snips, strike indicators, floatant. Don't be a hero.

Sportsman's Warehouse Colorado Springs

Sportsman's Warehouse's new fly-fishing display (proposed).

Sportsman's Warehouse, Colorado Springs

The elusive and highly prized Black Woolly Bugger.

 

It’s been a long time. How’ve you all been?

Miss us?

Of course you did. After begging for attention in the Indy’s dumb Best of the Springs contest, we needed to relax a little and regroup. Recover a little from our shame. Maybe have a cheeseburger or two.

Anyway, so we’ve been busy being out in the world. Here’s a quick roundup.

We saw Band of Horses in Denver earlier this month at the Ogden Theater. Great show, even though we had to get our tickets through Ticketmaster. Come on, Ogden, do something about that.

Band of Horses at the Ogden Theater, Denver

If you have a chance to see Band of Horses anywhere, it's probably a good idea. They put on a great show and seem like a genuinely decent group of people. No actual horses in the show, though. So there's that.

 

Band of Horses, Ogden Theater, Denver, Sept. 4, 2011

People at the Band of Horses show love Pabst.

 

Band of Horses, Ogden Theater, Denver, Sept. 4, 2011

After drinking the Pabst, instead of throwing the can in the trash, go ahead and crush it underfoot and leave it on the floor. The person who has to pick it up doesn't mind. It's cool.

 

Band of Horses, Ogden Theater, Denver, Sept. 4, 2011

Billboard outside the Ogden. Pabst, anyone?

 

Band of Horses, Ogden Theater, Denver, Sept. 4, 2011

Thick-rimmed glasses, check. Ridiculous beard, check. Plaid snap-up shirt, check. Pabst, check. I am a caricature of the hipster. Except I am old. At least I put my damn empty beer can in the trash.

 

Band of Horses, Ogden Theater, Denver, Sept. 4, 2011

Of course this chick isn't a caricature of anything. Just having a rum and coke and enjoying the show.

 

Band of Horses, Ogden Theater, Denver, Sept. 4, 2011

After the show, we walked to Tom's Diner. Great food for a late night. I had the fish sandwich, and Adrienne had a BLT, I think.

After picking up  Adrienne from the Denver airport after one of her many trips to L.A., we stopped off at the Interstate Kitchen & Bar. Interesting. I really enjoyed the vast bourbon offerings and had for the first time in my life a flight of bourbon. Enjoyed the Interstate very much and will likely be back the next time we’re in Denver.

The Interstate Kitchen & Bar, Denver

The bar at the Interstate.

 

The Interstate Kitchen & Bar, Denver

The Interstate Kitchen & Bar, Denver

 

The Interstate Kitchen & Bar, Denver

Adrienne had the fried chicken at the Interstate. She said it was very good, particularly the gravy.

 

The Interstate Kitchen & Bar, Denver

My flight of bourbon. And an Olympia beer. Because why not.

More recently, we took a day trip to Littleton and to Rollinsville to look at a summer shack we’re interested in buying, even though we have no money to buy a summer shack. But we figured we ought to look at it anyway, just in case.

In Littleton, we stopped at Merle’s for a cheeseburger. Lots of mixed feelings here. First of all, we have no complaints about the food. But the service was lacking. We’ll list our dissatisfactions and leave it at that because we don’t want to dwell on the negative.

  1. Virtually every place we’ve ever been will seat you, hand you the menus, and a single drink menu. Why only one drink menu? Are they in short supply? Seriously, people, give a drink menu to everyone at the table.
  2. The Tex-Mex burger with jalapenos and barbecue sauce is amazing. But it’s a little messy. How about you give me a couple extra napkins?
  3. Once at Flatirons, the hostess sat us at a table right next to a family of screaming toddlers even though the place was empty. I know there’s a flow and a system. You don’t want people seated at opposite ends of the restaurant, making the server walk unnecessarily. But at the same time, if there’s plenty of room, please don’t sit tables right next to each other. It’s uncomfortable.
Merle's Restaurant, Littleton, Colorado

Adrienne wanted to sit out on the deck at Merle's in Littleton. The hostess said it was cold, but we found it to be just fine.

 

Merle's Restaurant, Littleton, Colorado

The cheeseburger at Merle's in Littleton. The fries, though, get rave reviews from Adrienne, who's very picky about her fries. She would not stop talking about how excellent the fries were. The perfect combination of crispy and greasy. Fries: A-plus.

 

Merle's Restaurant, Littleton, Colorado

All this space out on the deck.

 

Merle's Restaurant, Littleton, Colorado

Go ahead and seat these guys here right next to us. You know what, how about you seat them at our table? We have two extra seats.

And on a final note, my mom dropped by unexpectedly tonight and delivered a fall/pumpkin seasonal sampler pack of beer. My mom is awesome.

Seasonal beer dropped off unexpectedly by my mom for no reason at all.

Seasonal beer dropped off unexpectedly by my mom for no reason at all. We're liking the Tommyknocker very much.

 

 

 

 

Why you’re going out of business

Hint: It’s not the homeless. Or parking.

Or any of the other dumb things businesses like to blame. (Some downtown myths and realities)

Downtown today is the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, and over the weekend was the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon. What this means is downtown is packed. There’s also a farmers market today, a concert — downtown today is essentially a festival. And guess what. We counted at least eight businesses that are closed.

Closed.

Look, we’re going to offer some free business advice: People can’t spend money in your store if you’re closed. Oh, but I’m always closed on Mondays. Fine. Not this Monday. Even one of our favorite places, Smiley’s, is closed today.

What’s the saying, something like: 90 percent of success is just showing up? All these people milling around downtown today have nothing to do but spend money. And they’re not spending it at Smiley’s. Or any of the other stores that can’t be bothered to be open on a weekday.

Simple things, people: Stay open. Accept credit and debit cards. Offer service, convenience and value — every day. And while you’re at it, businesses need websites. Websites with their hours, their contact info, menus, etc. (But this is another post for another time.)

When your store finally goes out of business, you can whine and cry and blame parking (though there’s free parking downtown today); you can blame the homeless; you can blame just about anything you want, but the truth is much, much simpler: You’re going out of business because you don’t really want to be in business.

Sorry, we're closed

Sorry, we can't be bothered to be open on one of the busiest days of the year. You'll have to come back some other time to spend your money. Some other time when it's convenient for me.