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A winning move

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Local buyers purchase Village Arts

By Carol A. Clark

Friday marked the three-way win in a local business transaction. Former owners, new owners and many loyal customers throughout the community all gain something from the sale, which keeps Village Arts by Marilyn operating in town.

Marilyn and Gary Warren officially sold their business to local businessman Jim O’Donnell and artist Ken Nebel. The men are keeping the Village Arts name and the framing portion of the business. They also plan to expand the art supply section, eliminate the gift items and add art classes.

In addition, they intend to move the business to a building on DP Road.

“Marilyn approached me two-and-a-half-years ago before she even put the business on the market. I said I would love to do this but I just don’t have the time,” O’Donnell said. “Then Ken became a major force working in the business and he’s just such a great guy and was willing to be the managing partner, co-owner and run it. That was just four months ago and that’s really what made it happen.”

Saturday marked the final order for Marilyn and the first order for Nebel.

“I’m just so excited,” Nebel said, “it’s going to be great. It’s a little bit scary but I’m too tired to think about it much.”

“The other building is coming along fine and should be ready sometime later this month for us to move into.”

Marilyn and Gary spoke highly of Neble and O’Donnell and their abilities and talents for continuing on with the business.

“I couldn’t be any happier with the people who bought Village Arts. Jim and Ken are just the perfect combination of a business person-photographer and an artist. Of all the people who looked at the business and talked about buying it, they are the best of all to take it into the future. Jim’s an experienced businessman and Ken is a fantastic artist and art teacher. He is very familiar with all of our customers because heís worked at the store for three years,” Marilyn said Saturday morning as she and Gary prepared to head back to Denver.

The Warrens moved to Denver nearly 14 months ago to be near family. Marilyn has been commuting back and forth keeping the business going ever since.

“The greatest joy for me all these years was in realizing my dream of owning my own business, something I had wanted to do since I was in my mid 20s. I enjoyed being a dental assistant in Los Alamos for 28 years before opening the business but being able to be creative in my own business really gave me the greatest joy,” Marilyn said. “It gave me the opportunity to meet so many great people and to serve the community. It was everything I thought it would be.”

The challenge of operating the business, she said, was the difficult local economy, especially after the Cerro Grande Fire as well as the recent national economic downturn.

“Just as a home has to follow a budget, a business does, too. That’s what makes it difficult to carry everything the customers want,” she said.

Marilyn and Gary will miss their employees and customers most, she said.

“So many people have become such close friends and we will miss being able to keep up with them and their families,” Marilyn said. “We want to express our appreciation to everyone for the many years of support and for being such an important part of our lives.”

Tami Gonzales started with Village Arts when it first opened in 1999. She is staying on as a framer with the new owners.

The original business, Village Crafts, was founded by James Akber in March 1983 in the White Rock Village. Cathy Osantowski purchased the business in 1988, renaming it Village Arts and Crafts. She moved the business into what’s now Quizno’s in Central Park Square in 1993. She eventually renamed it Village Arts and Glass when her son added a glass service to the business.

The Warrens purchased the business May 1998, renaming it Village Arts by Marilyn to distinguish it from the glass service, which continued on for a while.

“We quickly grew out of room and moved into larger quarters in the former sporting goods space at 170 Central Park Square in 2001. The sporting goods store moved to Mari-Mac then closed following the fire,” she said. “We really needed more space, especially because of the amount of framing we were doing. We designed and built all of the framing tables and shelves in the back of the store and design tables out front.”

“I want to wish Jim and Ken the very best — I think it’s so great that they’re expanding the art supplies section of the business and bringing on art classes,” Marilyn said.”I’ll be working with them during the transition period and Gary and I plan to return later this month or early next month for their official grand opening.”

The Warrens’ future plans include enjoying spending more time with each other and with their daughter, son-in-law and two young granddaughters.

To contact the new owners, call 661-2526.