Not long ago, a sinkhole opened up in the center of Lafayette. It was a metaphorical sinkhole, but for all taxing intents and retail purposes, it could have been a real one. By 2009, the shopping centers that flank South Boulder Road in Lafayette were nearly uninhabited: Walmart had moved up the road, Albertson’s had left years prior and Ace Hardware was out. Longmont-based Cheese Importers had purchased the Plaza Lafayette but never moved in. For years the most happening spot on the block was Flatirons Community Church, which took over two vacated big box stores. Lafayette’s key retail corridor had become, in one word, depressing.
It simply took a businessman from Northern Colorado to change it all. In 2010, Jim Quinlan selected Lafayette as the newest home for his Jax stores, which had become mainstays in Fort Collins and Loveland. First came Jax Outdoor Gear just east of 287 in the former Ace location and then Jax Farm & Home in the once blighted Plaza Lafayette.
When Quinlan purchased the huge storefront for his second Lafayette locale the rest of the shopping center came with it. He renamed the shopping center to Lafayette Marketplace. He brought in a brewery, a bakery and a gourmet cheese shop. He introduced a farmer’s market in the spring and summer. He even fixed the pothole-ravaged parking lot.
Now, he needs the people of Boulder County to realize that the center of Lafayette now has life.
When you first identified Lafayette as a location for Jax, did you think you’d end up transforming the entire retail landscape of the city?
Well, I saw potential. There were plenty of buildings, and I think it’s a good market. I didn’t realize that we would be as big of a player in the market as what we’ve grown into, but I definitely saw opportunity. I thought it was a good place for us to grow.