Museum’s new neighbors ready to do business

FORT COLLINS – The soon-to-open Fort Collins Museum of Discovery has the people at Jax Outdoor Gear pumped. Dazbog Coffee is also looking forward to the museum’s opening, as is the CSU Engines and Energy Conversion Lab.

It’s not just the exhibits that have these folks excited; it’s the potential to establish a business relationship with a new neighbor that will be good for all.

Jax Outdoor, located at 1200 N. College, is thinking about the potential of staging events at the museum.

The store, which specializes in camping, hiking and all sorts of other adventure gear, would relish an opportunity to help educate kids in the outdoor learning space that is part of the museum.

“Kids are the future of our business, so we want to get them excited about the outdoors,” Jax operations manager Mike Music said.

Also, Jax started out as a mercantile and military surplus store decades ago, and the company is still in possession of some historic items that could be used in museum exhibits, Music said.

Dazbog Coffee, situated directly across from the museum at 401 Mason Court, is also anticipating a mutually beneficial relationship.

Because of its proximity, the coffee shop wants to be prepared to answer questions from customers who come into the store pondering about the $14 million facility across the way.

“Of course, it’s a company goal to build relationships with the entities that come in around us, and a building that size is going to attract attention,” said K Campbell, co-owner of the four Northern Colorado Dazbog locations.

Campbell said he is not concerned about competition from the museum’s in-house café, since his shops ply coffee and pastries, as opposed to the light fare anticipated at the museum’s café.

City of Fort Collins Economic Adviser Josh Birks anticipates that the museum will coordinate some of its promotions with another innovative entity in the North College area: the Colorado State University Engines and Energy Conversion Lab.

A relationship between these two learning-oriented centers could provide an educational and research synergy that would benefit not only Fort Collins residents, but residents across Northern Colorado and visitors to the area as well, Birks said.

Engines Lab Operations Manager Mac McGoldrick said his organization would be interested in creating a relationship with the museum, and has had conversations on the subject.

The Engines Lab, located just across College Avenue from the museum, could extend its work with college students to reach students at the high school level and younger with the help of the museum, McGoldrick said.

“As a land-grant university, we’re always interested in communicating with the community what we’re doing,” he said, “A relationship with the museum could be a great opportunity for that.”

Although the museum sits a few blocks outside of Old Town, at the intersection of College Avenue and Cherry Street, it has the potential to benefit retail and restaurants in that area, according to Patty Spencer, who sits on the board of the Fort Collins Downtown Development Authority.

“Because of its location, the museum will serve as a bridge between downtown and the North College Marketplace,” Spencer said.

The many facets of the museum, meant to attract a wide variety of people, will add a new layer to existing downtown attractions and refresh the perception of the area, according to Spencer.

The mostly family-oriented facility will cater to a different audience than those currently drawn by the nightlife in Old Town, Spencer said, and will hopefully draw new types of people to downtown.

The DDA has put a lot of faith – $3 million worth – into the museum, anticipating that the state-of-the-art facility will serve as a catalyst for the North College area.

“We believe that arts and culture can serve as an economic driver,” Spencer said. “The museum is the flagship project in that area. But more than just downtown, it will add vibrancy to all of Fort Collins.”

In May, Museum of Discovery Executive Director Annette Geiselman told the Business Report that in addition to creating an estimated 10 new jobs, the museum will have the potential to attract 100,000 visitors per year, capable of spending $1 million on shopping, dining, and other activities outside the museum.

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