Because The Noise didn't archive online until July 2012, these are my articles for it published January-June 2012.
Being of Service in Old Town Cottonwood
Annabel V Sclippa
January 2012, The Noise
As far back as establishment dates of 1939, and into the future as far as planned openings, ie: the anticipated Chocolate Blond Salon, Old Town Cottonwood is a prime example of Small Town Revival. During a time of struggling national economy, Old Town is an anomaly. At the core of its success are businesses servicing the community. Architecture, engineering, accounting, salons, legal services, and property management, name a few.
Entering 2012, revive from holiday stress by taking advantage of this awesome array. Whether you are ready to give or receive, this abundance can help you replenish and restore your business, your self, and your community.
Casey Rooney, Executive Director of the CEDC (Cottonwood Economic Development Council), and instrumental partner in opening the BAC (Business Assistance Center) in Old Town, stated, “It's the Perfect Storm. The Creative Class and the Wine Industry collided. In a time when the economy was crashing, Old Town took off.” Mr. Rooney believes Old Town has only seen a quarter of its growth and has, “75% left to grow.” I like his projections. The BAC is available as a meeting space, plus offers management and other skills training to local small businesses.
Since Way Back When
The Calverts opened Verde Floral in 1939. Today, Darlene Calvert employs four locals plus Store Manager Theresa Dugin. About working in a business that has been here for so long, Ms. Dugin said, “It's great how Old Town is booming.”
The Garrisons have owned their property on Main St for generations, and continue to thrive with Cashmere Property Management operating out of it. Not a residential real estate company as oft confused, it's a 13-property industrial and commercial management firm. The Garrison's latest operation, an RV and Mini-Storage complex, is their only site with room to grow. Said Mr. Garrison, “All of our other properties, including those in Old Town, are occupied.” Now that's success.
Manuel Sanchez, aka Manny, of “Gotta Have It” and “Hair by Manuel,” said this is the best time he has seen here. Mr. Sanchez has owned a business in Old Town for over 35 years, and some of his costumers have been with him for as long. A visit to Manny's shop shows you why. “It is eye-candy,” he explains. Known for his creative embroidered jackets, Mr. Sanchez also hand-painted the shop from top to bottom, wall to wall. About growth in this historic area, he said, “It's a blessing to everyone.”
With store fronts side by side, All Valley Door & Lock and Time For You Clock Repair have been operating since 26 years ago and 22 years ago, respectively. “I've been here in Old Town for 18 years,” said Charlie Anderson of Time For You. Although annually closed for summer, Mr. Anderson finds ways to stay involved when he is here. “I am working on a wine orientated clock,” he remarked.
All Valley Lock & Door owner Robert Rose was proud to announce his establishment had just won the 2011 “Best of America, Best of the Best Award” in his trade. This category included competitors nationally. “Most of my work is outside of Old Town, but it really is nice to see a resurgence of business here.”
Coombs Countertops was once Coombs & Sons. Owners Jacque and Virgil were out of town when I was taking interviews, but sit-in Shop Manager Barbara Jones remembered clearly working with Virgil Sr years ago. Ms. Jones said, “I've worked all over this Valley with contractors for years. We always used Coombs.”
An Old Town boy who has come home to roost, Tom Pender has opened multiple businesses with wife Lisa Pender over the last decade and a half. “It's coming home. I grew up on N 5th and wanted to support Old Town, see it grow.” Pender Engineering is a General Civil Engineering firm, handling all types of projects from floodways to municipal and commercial. The Penders other service ventures have included J and N Painting, Cornerstone Surveying & Engineering, and Little Lisa's.
As Old Town grows, so does the sophistication of services offered. Char Zack, of Charlene Zack Accounting, is now an Enrolled Agent (EA). Ms. Zack has been in Old Town for over 15 years and has served as an accountant in the Verde Valley, primarily Jerome, since 1982. “With an upcoming shift in regulatory accounting qualifications,” Ms. Zack explained of her EA status, “new enrollment processes will be needed, in order to legally file. I am now one of those qualified.”
Old Concepts, New Stores
Premiere Furniture Consignment brings two services to Old Town. Kim Wright, co-owner with husband Arnie, doubles as a travel agent. Wrote Mrs. Wright, “As part of CWT Vacations and being an accredited Virtuoso Agent, we are able to give upgrades and other special benefits on cruises, tours and hotels.” And in addition to their shop, Mrs. Wright said, “Keep in mind that we do Estate Sales, too.”
If your bicycle needs a tune up, or you are ready for a new bike to wear off those winter pounds, visit Zoomer's Bike & Gear opened by Todd Lang, MD on Thanksgiving Day 2008. Since I use a wheelchair, I'm happy they are also willing to dabble in the wheelchair repair arts. Being able to move freely is a blessing. As Store Manager Dean Williamson said, “You can't buy happiness, but you can buy a bicycle, and that's pretty darn close.”
Hair by Manuel has been here for decades watching new salons join in. The current list includes Salon Envy behind Hog Wild BBQ, Tara Hair behind Studio B, and Ruby Reds at N 10th St. Shop owners say they are staying busy. “It's been really steady,” commented Joyce Gonzalez, co-owner of Salon Envy with husband Rogelio. They live just down the street, “For the lovely green, leaves, and trees. It's so peaceful.”
According to Owner/Broker Naomi McKeever, Adobe Real Estate moved here in 2008 because, “Old Town has a wonderful hometown feeling and we love it.” Adobe Real Estate offers services for Residential, and also has a specialist in Commercial, Mike Warren. Between nine office agents they service the entire Verde Valley.
Nationally-recognized Ledbetter Law Firm also put up their sign post here in 2009. Pun intended, Ledbetter worked with the Old Town Association of Cottonwood to restore the old Drive Through Liquor neon sign to read “Welcome to Old Town.” This sign has become a symbol for Old Town, and appears in promotions of many agencies. Ledbetter Law has a broad scope of clients for which they provide legal services, from State to local levels.
Paul Cate of Cate Architecture established here in 2004, “because it was just a lovely place to be.” On the subject of Green Building, stated Mr. Cate, “I was a Green Builder before it became weird, which was before it became cool.” Mr. Cate works from his home office on Cactus, just west of Main St. Any 1st hour meeting or service is free. Visit him at catedesign.net.
Small Town Boundaries Affecting Whole State Communities
Stronghold to many of these newer agencies surviving, has also been the consistency of local humanitarian resources such as the Food Bank, the Mission, Catholic Charities, and the Boys & Girls Club. Centrally located in Old Town behind the Civic Center and its park, the Boys & Girls Club is safety zone to 75 children a day and employs half a dozen locals. After-school services include helping kids with homework, giving them healthy snacks, and creating safe and fun events, such as the annual Pinewood Derby. Phillip Van Gorp, Branch Director, stated, “The best part is just seeing the kids being happy.”
Old Town Mission hands out food and clothes by the pounds. Geri Branaman, Compassion Services Manager, read the Mission's 2011 statistics to me, “We served 15,936 lunches, helped 32,100 people with food and/or clothing, and food shared 17,856 pounds with other agencies.” The Mission has three employees, and is working on hiring a fourth. These employees help direct 75-80 volunteers a week, who come help manage this sum of generosity.
The Food Bank, just across from Camelot RV Park, has a Backpack Lunch program. On Fridays, volunteers arrive to pack sacks for school kids to take home. The packs supply these children, and their families, with all the weekend food they need. These small backpacks go from being tokens of support, to entire families' sustainability.
Catholic Charities Office Director Carol Quasula also has quite a job on her hands. The Cottonwood Branch is one of a large network throughout the State, which have been providing programs for more than 75 years, annually transforming over 80,000 lives in Arizona. Services provided out of the Cottonwood include helping homeless, supporting youth development and education, reducing poverty, helping with foster care, and providing multiple arenas of counseling, including parenting, pregnancy and adoption.
If you are looking for volunteer opportunities and ways to help our community, from Old Town to our State borders, you can walk right down the street and find one of these impressive resources to offer your aid. When you have given every last bit that you can, and are ready to be pampered, continue to keep it in Old Town with some of our health and healing facilities.
Out Of A Little Town Came A Lot Of Love
Judy Rupel returned to plant a seed and grow her business here. Said Ms. Rupel of Soothing Touch Massage, “Appreciation is truly one of the most powerful emotions one can express. I am so grateful to be a part of Old Town as a neighbor and business owner.” In gratitude, Soothing Touch Massage is offering a Full-Body Massage and Body Scrub for $60 to all Old Town residents.
Jeanette Campbell of Verde Valley Acupuncture recommends a Seasonal Check-Up to veer clear of colds and flu. Optimistic of her business's future success, and of all small businesses in Old Town, she said, “2012 is the Year of the Dragon. I see the qualities of the Dragon as the same of a small business owner. They like to make their own rules, and when left on their own, they are successful, driven, and fulfill their dreams.”
The accordion block building of the Healing Arts Center was once Martin J Lawrence Hospital of Cottonwood. Built in the late 30s, it was moved in the 60s to its current location on Willard, and became Verde Valley Medical Center. According to Olga Morris, Clinical Coordinator of Services, the building is now owned by Dr. Marvin Colvin, DO, and is an Integrative Healing Center. Ms. Morris detailed they offer, “services ranging from Family Practice and Osteopathic Manipulation to yoga, massage, counseling, permanent makeup, hair analysis, nutrition and parenting classes.” This January 21, join Danielle Vorves, Sara Woolsey and other instructors for the 3rd annual, and free, Yoga Day USA.
Also offering a range of therapeutic and fun activities, is Studio B. Owner William Eaton describes Studio B at Old Town Center for the Arts as having, “unique decor and ambience, offering residents and visitors ongoing classes in yoga, belly dance, movement arts, drumming and many other community opportunities." Visit oldtowncenter.org.
What Defines Old Town?
In this article, I define Old Town's perimeters as the cemetery to the east, to the recently burned down gas station and The Sewing Box to the west. By National Historic Commercial District designation it is bridge to bridge, and some would have it start by Fry's. I chose the cemetery to the east since most old towns put their cemetery at the edge of Town, as a courtesy to the town-dwellers. From that, I am presuming that this was the original Cottonwood.
Within this expanded definition, we find more services to the east than commonly covered. Cottonwood Dance and Fitness, Jana Long Dentistry, Mingus Center, Attorney Corbin Vandomoer, and Riverfront Gas Station add to the list. Don't be confused, Riverfront Station is the one with the Spirit sign.
“The station has been here since 1961, and I've had it since 1987,” current owner Richard Backus told me, just as I noticed the posting over his shoulder. Taped to the window, it read, “USED DISC GOLF DISCS.” Smart move. Right across the street is Riverfront Park, which houses what's been called the “nicest Disc Golf course ever” by enthusiasts. I smile to think, Old Town knows how to be of service, and like the Dragon, Richard is remaining passionate and driven about this, rising and flexing with the times.
In doing research for this article I became more proud than ever to be part of such a unique and growing community. This January, I will launch into 2012 rejuvenated, by taking advantage of the services offered. On the wish list: new tires for the wheelchair from Zoomers, a van tune up from Riverfront, a trim from Salon Envy, accounting help from Char Zack, massage from Judy at Soothing Touch, and an Immune Support tea from Verde Valley Acupuncture. Keeping it local. Why go anywhere else?
First Established and Here for the Long Haul
Annabel V Sclippa
With Arizona's Centennial Celebration this Valentine's Day, February 14 2012, it seems an appropriate month to talk about the history of Cottonwood, and the concept of First Established.
According to writer Roger Naylor, “The Cottonwoods originated as a campground and stopover for travelers near one of the three main crossings of the Verde River. In the 1870s, a few hearty settlers began to sink more permanent roots.”
Kyla Allen, Executive Assistant to City Manager Doug Bartosh, presented an evolution to the time frame during which Cottonwood truly got its name. As Mrs. Allen wrote, what she had published in the “AZ League of Cities and Towns magazine last year stated, (Cottonwood was), 'Established in 1879 and named after a circle of Cottonwood trees used as a camp by the initial settlers, Cottonwood was initially an agricultural and grazing area supplying food to the United Verde Mining Camp and the garrison at Fort Verde. Striving to be free of the restrictions and prejudices of the nearby 'company' towns, Cottonwood attracted many entrepreneurs and finally incorporated in November 1960.'”
There is no shortage of ways to celebrate here during this State Centennial month. Mrs. Allen wrote, “From now through July 4, we have at least an activity per month planned to celebrate the State of Arizona Centennial in the City of Cottonwood. In February these include a Centennial Birthday party on February 4, a statewide bell ringing event on February 14, and performances by our State Historian, Wyatt Earp, and State Balladeer at Old Town Center for the Arts. A few other events (throughout the year) include an Old Fashioned Easter Egg Hunt, the Brian Mickelsen Marathon and the Fourth of July Extravaganza.” In Old Town we will also celebrate with Centennial-themed Sizzling Salsa, Thunder Valley Rally, Rhythm & Ribs, Fall Carnival, Walkin' On Main, and Chocolate Walk. Visit the Old Town Association's oldtown.org for details.
So, it started with the Cottonwood tree, and from this came our City's namesake. As well, the Verde River provided a source for nourishment, cleansing, and activity to establish a community, which brought in culture from far and wide. Cottonwood has been home to Indians, Mexicans, Italians, Chinese, and the list is extensive.
Today our cultural history is a mainstay of why folks voyage in from foreign lands. They want a slice of the Southwest, dreaming of seeing cowboys ride bareback through the plains and Indians stringing turquoise into woven baskets before their very eyes. Natural formations draw in fishermen, campers, horseback riders, bird watchers and trailer inhabitants to Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Tuzigoot National Monument, not quite in Old Town, but also a stone's throw away, is remnant of the way we once survived in the vast desert, building structures as watchtowers and protectors. A unique Sinaguan Indian ruin that sits atop a mound instead of high in a cliff wall, making itself accessible to all, Tuzigoot's elegant splay blends perfectly with its surroundings. Both of these public facilities deepen the rich cultural experience one can have in the Verde Valley.
Another Old Town extension into nature is the Jail Trail. Starting at the Old Town Jail, 1101 N Main St, adventurers can set out on a one mile hike along the wash, following flora and fauna, observing postmarks of cairns (little stacks of stones), to the Verde Greenway. At this end, a day tripper can wind past the Community Garden and the Dog Park, and right into the entrance of a world-class Frisbee Golf Course at Riverfront Park.
The Verde Greenway is a 480-acre, six-mile long riparian area. It encompasses the Fremont Cottonwood/Gooding Willow Riparian Gallery forest, one of five remaining stands in Arizona and one of 20 such stands in the world. In addition to birds, the cottonwoods and shrubs along the banks of the beautiful, winding Verde River also support nearly 20 threatened or endangered species, including river otter and lowland leopard frogs. Greenway visitors can also get a glimpse of coyotes, raccoons, mule deer, beavers, blue heron and other animals.
CONSTRUCTION BY MAN
Structures still standing from Cottonwood's heyday of the 1920s and 1930s include Cottonwood Bridge and Del Monte Wash Bridge. These cap-stone the Nationally Registered Commercial Historic District of Old Town. Within these bridges' boundary are the Civic Center (which was once the Civic Club), the Old Town Jail (once known as the Jailhouse), and the buildings currently housing the City Council Chambers, City Court, City Hall, and past-appointed Recreation Center and Gym.
As well, many of the merchants' buildings tell a history of burning and re-building, bootlegging and fires of distils gone blast in the past. Read the menu at the Tavern Grill, observe the bottle-width hole that drops to an underground cavern at the Pender Building on N Main St, take an Historic Walking Tour with Cottonwood Hotel's owner and Tour Guide, Karen Leff. Bootlegging aficionados come to hear Mrs. Leff's renegade historic recounts, visiting the past and the present through her Walk. Leff also relays common building details such as, “805 N. Main: Cottonwood Civic Center, with its river-rock face, was built by the WPA in 1939. It served as the town’s clubhouse. During World War II, it was converted to barracks for naval cadets.”
Another building covered in the Walk is the Contreras Pool Hall. Now addressed as 908 North Cactus Street, the Hall was built in 1904 and is the oldest commercial building still existing in Cottonwood. According to the Historic Resources Inventory: Cottonwood, Arizona; by Linda Laird and Associates; S.018, S.019, “the one-story stucco is long and narrow, and was constructed in the Commercial Style that was commonly used in this area through the 1920s. Decorative turned posts support a shed roof over the porch, which is complimented by the false front. Originally there was a chimney on the north side. In 1966 it was converted into a building for residential use.” Today it is a combination of both, as a one-room B&B and residence.
As Roger Naylor's piece The Secret's of Old Town details, “Following the fire of ‘25, most businesses were constructed using reinforced concrete, an experimental material at the time. Insurance companies decided that exploding stills and businesses constructed from kindling were a volatile mix, so wooden structures were banned. Even the old wooden boardwalk was replaced by raised concrete sidewalks covered by awnings. These design choices gave the community its distinctive look and careful preservation landed Old Town a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.”
Culturally representing stores like Jim & Ellen's Rock-N-Shop offer an array of items, as well as an experience in history. Once entering the two-story tall, Sears-sized collection of artifacts, one can read the land through the rocks and buy a piece of it to take home. It is an eclectic range of Mexican imports, Native American jewelry, Native American pottery, rocks, rock equipment, and decorative rugs. Open 7 days a week, from 9-6, it may be holding the most consistent and expansive hours in the building's history.
Some locals have left Cottonwood to retrieve culture from far away places, then return home to roost. Hal Cope (better known as “Bwana Hal”) was raised in Cottonwood, and recently returned to his hometown after an absence of 63 years. Mr. Cope graduated from Clarkdale High School in 1943, then joined the US Navy to serve his country in WWII. He left what was Cottonwood, and is now Old Town, and first traveled to Africa in 1962 after purchasing Safari Air Services, based in Nairobi, Kenya. As a young man, Mr. Cope dreamed of going to Kenya to hunt the big five: Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Elephant and the always dangerous, Cape Buffalo. After his return to the USA, he constructed and managed four Lion Country Safari Wildlife Parks, as a means of introducing masses of people to the wonder and beauty of African Wildlife. Mr. Cope continues that effort locally, by lecturing on African Wildlife and presenting slideshows of his African adventures.
Modern antique shops reflect history through glorious crystals, fun bobbles and shiny ka-doodles in Papillon II. Their other items include Swank to Sailor outfits, deliriously ornate jewels and gorgeous furniture. Owners Jennifer McDonald and Sherry McMahon expanded into Old Town from their shop Papillon Antiques in Jerome, and live in that fabulous era. One can visit Mrs. Mahon's The Sullivan House or Mrs. McDonald's The Pink Lady House during Jerome's Annual Historic Home & Building Tour. Always the third weekend in May, 2012's 47th Annual Tour maintains it as the longest running home tour in Arizona.
A melange of sweet trinkets and other goods adorn the shelves of A Checkered Past Antiques. Enter into crate-like wooden shelves for an enjoyable walk through time and many pieces of local taste, from garden to desk. Mimi's Antiques, snuggled in between Alley Cats and the Tavern Grill, and sharing store space with Bonne Lait is a compliment en crème brulee. What better ambience than chocolate, cheese & antiques?
We can't talk about history without mention of Larry's. On 2-floors, it's an antiques' wonder-world cascading off the bend of N Main St. According to current owner Lawrence Cohen, “The building has been around since the turn of the century. It has been a gas station, feed store, model t repair shop, restaurant equipment store and antique store. 'Old Larry' moved in about 7 years ago and opened up the back yard and buildings. We bought it one year ago. While we rent some spaces, 70% of the merchandise is ours.” Regarding what specific favorites or eras are represented, Mr. Cohen said, “We have a trunk and a lot of tools from the 1700's, but most of our stuff is turn of the century. Our farm wagons are from the 1800's. We have a lot of stuff from the civil war and our primitive stone tools and matate's are over 1000 years old. In addition to regular antiques we have gas and oil, railroad, mine equipment, furniture, jewelry, clocks, radios, tools, western stuff and stoves.”
The 2011 Chocolate Walk Best Chocolate winner Little Store UNIQUITIES, and Best Decorated Premiere Furniture, have both been stronghold in the Cottonwood area for some time. Representing between them an array of locally-produced craftsmanship, historic treasures, imported angels, Christmas year—round, and travel agency services. According to Mrs. Wright, Premiere Furniture Consignment offers, “quality and gently used items. Besides furniture, you will find unique home décor, art, collectibles and some antiques. New items are being consigned weekly; you’ll never know what you will find. Also, keep in mind that we do estate sales.” And she is a travel agent.
Little Store UNIQUITIES owner Catherine Capp details the Capp family's deeply intertwined Old Town relationships. “I have been in current location 6 years now. Both my daughters work in Old Town, one at the Tavern Grill/Tavern Hotel/Nic's; the other at the Old Town Cafe. My son helps in my business as much as his work schedule allows. The Little Store UNIQUITIES was your proverbial Mom and Pop store until Pop got real sick a little over 3 years ago and can no longer meet and greet the customers we both cherish so much. I try to keep the store unique with items that you can't find just anywhere and at an affordable price.”
To celebrate Cottonwood's history, the nearby Dead Horse Ranch State Park annually hosts Verde River Days on the last Saturday and Sunday in September. A meadow transforms to battlefield where Civil War re-enactors wave their Union and Confederate flags and in eyeball-to-eyeball, musket-to-musket encounters, recreate a Civil War battle. The reenactment is one of the highlights of Verde River Days, which promotes preservation and care of the Verde River’s riparian habitat. The event will celebrate its 24th anniversary this September 2012.
Just up the hill out of Old Town is Clemenceau Heritage Museum, housed in the original Clemenceau Public School building. Constructed in 1923-24 by James (Rawhide Jimmy) Douglas of the United Verde Extension Copper Company, the Museum offers permanent displays of a schoolroom, early 20th century home interiors, and artifacts and photographs that reflect the heyday of mining, ranching and farming that drove the economy of the Verde Valley since the arrival of white settlers in the second half of the 19th century. According to clemenceaumuseum.org, a current display representing Arizona's Centennial covers topics from transportation, communication, and lifestyle, and completes with the newest draw, viticulture.
With new attention turned toward Old Town, and the preservation of this unique abundance of Mom and Pop shops, one and a half years ago the City approved Cottonwood's first Historic Preservation Commission. The Commission helps guide those who are interested in finding out the history of their establishment or home, and, if applicable, helps those who decide to be listed on the National Historic Registry. According to one of the six Commissioners, Commissioner Glenda Farley, “Cottonwood's Past Deserves a Future.” And it seems she might be right.
Unique Boutiques of Old Town Cottonwood
Annabel V Sclippa
As we swing out of the Holiday daze and enter the eclipse of Summer, March reminds us that anything can happen. It could sun or it could snow.
Originally, Martius (March) was the first month of the Roman calendar. We can make sense of this arrangement. In their geographical region, the grips of winter were just beginning to lose their hold, thus the Romans believed the year should begin in March as the new season of life began, too. March is also associated with the planet Mars. Popularized as a warmonger, Mars was actually a fertility and agricultural deity first. He oversaw the new growth of Spring, and encouraged procreation in humans, plants and animals.
Whether a god of war or of agriculture, the personality of Mars is charging, un-relinquishing and brutally assertive. We find this kind of fervent focus in the expression of March too. At this time of year, there is no stopping the burgeoning birth of new life. March (and Mars) is a high-speed locomotive on a single-focused monorail with only one objective: Explosive Expression. What better venue to embody this than through fashion, the ultimate external expression?
This swing into Mars action sets in with Daylight Savings on the 11th, is celebrated with full party regalia for St. Patrick's Day on the 17th, and concretes on the First Day of Spring on the 20th. A perfect reason to shop; to hit the streets for the neatest and most unique boutiques. Spring means a new wardrobe, some fresh bejeweled bits, or perhaps a lovely new camouflage set?
According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, the (n.) bou·tique is 2. A small business offering specialized products and services: an investment boutique; a health-care boutique. And comes from [French, from Old French botique, small shop, from Old Provençal botica, from Latin apothica, storehouse; see apothecary.].
I like 'boutique' for all things, as opposed to 'mega,' 'warehouse' or 'chain.' However, when it comes down to it, I prefer boutique [buːˈtiːk] as described in Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 2003, as (n.) 1. (Business / Commerce) a shop, esp a small one selling fashionable clothes and other items. It seems this is somehow it's purest form: the original fashion boutique. And so in this article, thus I examine the Unique Boutiques of Old Town from this writer's eye.
Alley Cats Yarn, Beads & Clothing offers an array of fashionista fixes. From boots and shoes, to skirts and vests, shirts and jackets, jewelry and everything in between including labels such as Ad Hoc, also sold at Anthropology. Offerings include one of the largest bead collections in Northern Arizona. Lisa Hering is sole owner and has the type of eye Cottonwood can appreciate, blending Western meets the Far East to Soho. Since 2007 at her location in Old Town and open 7 days a week, Mon-Sat 10-6PM, and Sun from noon-5PM.
Foxy Fashions draws me in with its arched entry and mystique of that 'end of the road' location. In this location for 9 years, Sandra & James Rea run a boutique and a floor covering business. When asked her favorite items for sale, Mrs. Rea details the shops, “nice line of skirts, dresses, wedding wear, shawls, one- or two-of-a-kind items. I carry merchandise that is strictly feminine, because that is what I like.” In my visits to the shop I've noticed the nice array of Red Hat Society items for the red hat ladies. The jewelry is affordable, unique, and they have a large array of dichroic earrings, and other locally handmade earrings in every color of the rainbow. “There are also resale items available,” added in Mrs. Rea. “And don't forget we do all types of floor coverings and sell carpet, vinyl and custom rugs.”
Two Boutiques collide with Cindi Bee and Pretty Shabby. These locally owned shops joined as one and have been open for nearly 2 years. Inventory is bursting from ceiling to floor with eclectic items that accentuate the unusual with bling, fun, whimsy and uniqueness. Local artists and authors are frequently featured. Items include a kaleidoscope of sparkling colorful gifts, vintage items, shabby chic furniture, clothes, jewelry, embellishments, and a whole outdoor patio of garden and patio art. Visit owners Cindi Bee of the store with her namesake, and Debbie Crick of Pretty Shabby.
Barter Inn owner Penny Fortner set up her fort here in her current Old Town location 26 years ago, and has never looked back. “I used to live in the store,” Ms. Fortner told me, “and then over time was able to move out and expand the store.” According to Ms. Fortner, in addition to the “best boots in the world,” the Inn also carries everything from flashlights and backpacks to machetes, sleeping bags and canteens. OK, all you hunters, sheriffs, hikers, bikers and cops, time for a new set of Spring fatigues? I'll be stopping in for her in-store packaged hand-made organic soap. Perfect for bathing in the wilderness, while keeping yourself and the trees clean and happy.
Bits & Pieces owner Gayle Zalena has an eye for the romantic and unique. When I look in her boutique's windows I see lace and jagged wood, leopard print and turquoise. According to Ms. Zalena, “Bitts & Pieces makes all our own wonderful art pieces. One-of-a-kind is our specialty. Wood furniture with our own unique design style is what you see, also items for the home, soft dolls of all kinds, jewelry, pillows, clothing, purses, treasures, and more.” This thirty-year-old business has spent its last twenty years in Old Town Cottonwood. Ms. Zalena added, “We also have Art Classes with specialized teachers throughout the year, soon to be on-line at www.BittsandPieces.com.” Shop is open Wednesdays through Saturdays, call 928-639-2033 for hours.
I thought eBay storefronts only were for real in movies like The 40 Year Old Virgin, but Old Town has such unique boutiques that we even have our very own eBay store Outlaw Trading Company. “Outlaw Trading Post is an eBay consignment store. Using the power of the internet for global commerce, we find buyers from around the world to pay cash for local treasures. To put it simply, our motto says it all 'The Modern Way of Old Time Trade',” wrote Jamie Treguboff, Customer Service Manager of Outlaw. During Thunder Valley Rally, I was impressed to see they were ready with fashionable biker T-shirts donning the logo to wear and ride.
If you are ready to make an existing item work better, The Sewing Box owner Donna Bloom prides herself in the best alteration prices around. Mrs. Bloom commented, “I only charge about $5 to alter a shirt or a pair of slacks. I like to keep it affordable for my customers here in the Verde Valley.” Opened six months ago, The Sewing Box sells fabrics, crafting items, some beads, and cross-stitch materials such as DMC threads. Mrs. Bloom also makes and redesigns wedding dresses, stitches quilts, and offers private teaching classes for quilting. “Mostly my customers are from here in Cottonwood and Camp Verde, but some are from Sedona,” commented Mrs. Bloom. Store hours are 7:30AM-4PM, Monday through Friday in the old Horses-R-Us location.
Ye Ole Hippie Emporium is as bright on the inside as it is on the outside. Clothes, books, jewelry, gems and other fashion finds for home and body will keep you reading, peeking, and finding treasure for hours on end.
Bejeweling of the Body
Clair Rasmussen of Magenta Jewelry moved his jewelry store to Sedona 30 years ago, and started Magenta Jewelry in it's Old Town location 20 years ago. His values for the shop can be summarized thus, "I travel to market 2 to 3 times a year, to constantly see new designs and new artists, and I personally hand pick every item that shows up in the store. It has to move me in some way, or I don't buy it. Select pieces are offered from my work, and from other artist's work I admire. My jewelry focuses on being "unusual enough" to set you apart, but not extreme. I strive to offer high quality, but with careful attention to price, and we always focus on different items than you can't see everywhere else." The shop has a Navajo silversmith on staff, so Mr. Rasmussen can handle contemporary goldsmith design and repairs, while Glen Whitehair handles Native Jewelry design and repairs.
Veronica Jauregui opened Betty's Attic 8 years ago on May 5th 2004. Mrs. Jauregui finds most of her merchandise at estate sales, store closeout sales, and events such as the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show. She also has consignment items, such as turquoise & silver jewelry by Barbara Haggerty from Camp Verde. Her favorite current sellers are jewelry from the Tucson show, China paintings, pretty old bottles in a variety of color, depression glass, and Fostoria glass. I know one of the main items ahhed at in The Annabel Inn is a gorgeous multi-colored glass peacock lamp I scored there. Head on down and see what Betty's Attic has for you. Open Tues, Thrs, Fri, Sat, 10AM-4PM, and sometimes more.
Architecturally huge for my boutique image, color yourself fancy in the world renowned house of glitter production, the Art Glitter Institute, once visited by Martha Stewart and seen on QVC and other shopping networks. No matter what favorite item you'd like to dress up, glitters can be found here in every color and applied to clothing, purses, and accessories, in addition to stylizing a sign, some letterhead paper, or perhaps even yourself. I always know when an Annabel Inn guest has been to the shop, by the sparkle in their hair and the bedazzling purple and pink glitters on their cheeks. Classes, free demos, and more available. Visit www.artglitter.com.
Little Store UNIQUITIES has been in its current location for six years now and has local artisan crafts such as LivingWare Pottery's japanese ikebanas. Catering to Christmas all year round is not all they do, but it sure is one of my favorite aspects of the sweet little shop. You can also find boutique items for garden and household, pretty wooden jewelry boxes, and much more. Store owners Bill and Cathy try to keep the store unique with items that you can't find just anywhere and at an affordable price. Most merchandise is new, although they have recently mixed it up with nice second-hand items.
Sharing space with UNIQUITIES is River's Edge whose specialty is a great range: gifts, beads, and home decor, including unique custom furniture. They are a small, eclectic, colorful gift shop, with something for everyone. Adorning the walls is folk art from around the world, tapestries, beaded curtains, wall-hangings, and sarongs. Making the place tinkle are wind chimes, musical instruments and lots of bells. They also carry sacred statuary and are an outlet for unique, custom-made furniture, shelving, well, any woodwork. They have an array of findings for jewelry creation, including tools. As Annie, sole proprietor and whole work force commented, “Our prices are pleasantly affordable, in an attempt to keep it real for the people of the Verde Valley.” Hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays 10:30AM to 5:00PM.
RobinArt owners Gary and Robin have been making beautiful artwork for over 20 years. Their combined talents and materials are in form for functions from body wear (that would be jewelry) to house beautification (that would be sculptures). The couple create jewelry, fused glass, metalwork, paintings, and also work with stone and wood. Many of the materials are collected by the artists locally. According to the dynamic duo, “The ideas are never-ending, that keeps the interest up. We have our studio/retail store in the old garage that was part of the Ford dealership. We both like lots of color! Our work is both whimsical and contemplative. The fact that the work is made is the USA is unique nowadays, and we also have a few other local artists showing.” Visit 1044 N. Main St. or call (928) 639-9400.
“Cate Studio & Gallery is a stained glass – photography - fine art studio,” according to owner and artist Monika Cate. The stained glass studio, open since 1989, arrived in Old Town in 2004. The gallery above the studio, open since November 2009, shows Mrs. Cate's work, as well as the works of other artists, space permitting. Mrs. Cate's main work are her custom designs for commissioned stained glass doors, windows, mirrors & lamps. Her love of the play of light and glass lets her enjoy every new project with the same excitement she felt when she first started 30 years ago in her native Germany. Since arriving in Sedona in 1988, her stained glass was commissioned for residential and commercial buildings in Sedona, Cornville, Flagstaff and Cottonwood. Photography is her other passion, currently her gallery is showing a series of flower still-life named Flower Songs, part of her ongoing show: “Angels, Roses, Stars and Dots.” The angels are photographs and cards by German author Christian Erdmann. Old Town musician and artist Dave Rentz shows mannequins, to which he gives a second life with his incredible expression through colored dots. Gallery & Studio are located one block west of Main Street on Cactus Street, behind a 1928 historic residence in a charming courtyard. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Saturday, 1PM - 5PM. For custom stained glass inquiries call (928) 634-4980.
Boutique? What's in a name? These days “boutique” hotels, motels, wineries, and other specialized micro-production amenities come in all shapes and sizes outside of the traditional boutique. But March brings me back to fashion, and the traditional-definition of Unique Boutique that resides in my heart. It seems the perfect month to find a purse for Spring, grab a new thermos for St. Patties, or score a one-of-a-kind clock to reset on Daylight Savings Time, except, of course, if you live here in Old Town Cottonwood, or anywhere else in our splendid boutique State of Ari-zon-i-a.
Visit the Old Town Association's oldtown.org/events to see daily Old Town specials, evenings of music, and more to be had between shops while meandering along Historic 89A.
Depth of Taste & Character in Old Town Cottonwood
Annabel V Sclippa
From gourmet cooking to sizzling sounds, Old Town is a kaleidoscope of area culture reflected through the eyes and arms of individuality that has opened shop and made this Historic 89A community home, presenting an eclectic array to enjoy.
Starting with Sizzling Hot Munching and Music
This April an Old Town Association event brings it home with a bang and a name from Main Street history during the Saturday, April 28th music and food-infused fun day for the whole family. Sizzling Salsa will take place on Historic 89A/N Main, from Pinal Street on down past the Jail. Starting at 3pm enjoy salsa tasting plus many types of mexican food samplers from a multitude of local verde valley restaurants, cigar rolling and tequila tasting. 6pm brings live music featuring the Cadillac Angels on a main stage conveniently next to the Beer Garden in the RobinArt lot. A stop to spunk your spirit.
A Tisket, A Tasket
If your taste buds long for the spit and vinegar of peppers dancing in onion and lime juices before then, start your sampling early with a visit to Concho's Mexican Restaurant on the bend just across from Ye Ole Hippie Emporium. Concho's large array of beers from Mexico and other corners of the Earth will compliment any plate the employees will pour their hearts into and serve you up hot.
Perhaps you are more the steak-n-potato type? Nic's Italian Steak & Crab has a wall of awards preparing you for the delicious cut that will make your plate sizzle, embellished with veggies, pasta or potatoes how you like. Representing a spectrum of delectables, one can start with some of the best New England Clam Chowder this side of the Mississippi. Owners Erik and Michelle Jurisin like to offer options. If you are in the mood for something slightly more casual, but equally as delicious as the menu at Nic's with it's sultry rich atmosphere, opt for across the street at the Tavern Grill. The Tavern's sports bar setting, with its TV-embellished walls will make you feel like you've entered the set of Cheers, where you are right at home and in a few visits, everyone will know your name.
What's in a name? Kactus Kate's is a classic wild west watering hole, and if the name doesn't say it, walking through the door will. Complete with dim lights, pool table, karaoke and live music nights, an out back smoking area, and out front people-watching patio, you can find a frothy brew off the tap or shoot a shot straight while taking in the local culture. Kitchen hours may vary, so look for the a-frame out front to see what's sizzling stove top.
Just across Pinal Street from Kate's is The Vineyard Wine Bistro. With a selection of Arizona and other wines, The Vineyard also has beers and liquors. The impressive carved replica Turn of the Century Brunswick Triple Arch Bar was made for the establishment and shipped in from Singapore. Its pretty carved matching swivel chairs and booth areas give a unique atmosphere, sometimes further accentuated by live music nights, goldfish races and fashion shows. I'm a big fan of their fresh pizza with homemade mozzarella, homemade sauce, homemade Italian sausage, and hand-mixed Orion Bread Company crusts. Edging on the exotic, the fried avocado is a must try as well.
When I need a big slice of foreign culture, there is no place in Old Town I'd rather go than Thai Palace. Good enough to open a second location in Uptown Sedona, owners Deena and Bo have found a big niche in a little Valley. The ambience will take you right back to Thailand with the gilded doorways and deeply colored walls, altars with offerings, and serene Thai music. I appreciate the fresh Duck Curry, the Thai Beer selection, and the perfect ending to any meal, coconut ice cream sprinkled with peanut. Any season it's a winner, but especially when the winds of change are blowing through and the sniffles get to you. Hurry fast and order the Chicken Silver Noodle Soup with freshly cut ginger. And make it at least a 3-star... if you can take the heat!
For the ultimate in concierge service, no stop in Old Town compares to Abbie's Kitchen & Fine Foods. You will be greeted at the curb and escorted into a candlelit cottage intimacy of freshly cut flowers and world class service. Upon entry observe the open kitchen of cooks smiling towards you, the incredible fragrance of fresh herbs in the air, and the sweet scent of perfectly singed pound cake that will make you drool before you have seen the menu. Owner and Chef, Abbie Ashford was a private Chef in Sedona for over half a decade before gracing our Historic 89A with her first namesake restaurant. This is an exceptional evening, not to be missed.
Side by side on the East side of Old Town, at Main St and North 5th are Old Town Center for the Arts (OTCA) and Thyme & Again. What a perfect duo for a weekend immersion of class and culture. William Eaton, four time Grammy Nominee, was on his was to Madrid to perform some concerts, but I caught him before the plane took off. He explained that his wife Kristy Eaton came up with the fabulous idea to renovate the old church. It was one excellent idea indeed. Explained Mr. Eaton, “It has been open as OTCA and has been programming for 3 ½ years, with over 230 shows, and has brought over 10,000 guests to Old Town.” The draw? Top international, national and regional talents.
Park once and get a double shot of top-notch. Reserve your own night with Jojo Brashears and daughter Kayla at Thyme & Again for a lovely dinner before the OTCA show. The restaurant is no longer open on a regular basis, but can be reserved with enough tabletops. Using local produce, farm-raised beef, and some gluten-free options, this dynamic Mother & Daughter Duo will whip you up a splendid and fulfilling meal you will gladly have made the time and planned for. To secure their presence in catering, Farmer's Markets, and events, call (928) 300-8123.
Being a Bed & Breakfast owner though, I cannot skip the most important meal of the day... BREAK-FAST. Old Town Red Rooster, namesake to the original Red Rooster of the City of Jerome, has been featured in magazines state-wide as being one of the best new restaurants in Arizona, having the best cake (and dare say I had to try it for myself, more than once, and must agree), and is one of the best choices for breakfast in Old Town. Plus they maintain the only Old Town ATM that I know of.
Yet still, I am always torn between The Rooster and Old Town Cafe... Old Town Cafe original owner Cecile made the recipes that make the quiche I call as good as my own at The Annabel Inn, and chocolate croissants that make me wake in the night craving them. A tisket a tasket a Rooster-Cafe basket – which way to go? Both have fabulous coffee, excellent egg options, a splendid atmosphere, staff that smiles so big you can't help but smile along with them, and newspapers and art to occupy the morning coffee sipper or full lunch day tripper.
Art for Thought
Sharing the courtyard passage with Old Town Red Rooster is Wind Dancer Fine Art Gallery. The Gallery, and also studio of Barbara Donahue, shows primarily her work in oil, although special shows with guest artists are held periodically and have been known to liven the breezeway. As a founding member of Arizona Plein-Aire Painters, many of Mrs. Donahue's pieces are from life, breathing the ambience of the Arizona landscape, architecture and communities. She also travels worldwide, to capture subjects from other countries, then from these small studies creates larger pieces. Among her favorite subjects one can list animals, including, perhaps, your favorite furry friend's portrait.
A life-long activity for Mrs. Donahue, in her teens she was asked to paint Christmas scenes on storefronts in Van Wert, Ohio, where she was born. She studied fine art at ASU and Scottsdale Artists School, attends many workshops given by well known artists, and always changes with the times. Mrs. Donahue most recently painted a “vinegar” barrel for the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce. This mini barrel can be carried with Chamber staff to various events, helping promote the popular Wine Barrel Trail here in Cottonwood, and throughout the Verde Valley. The current 40 barrels on the trail have been in place for about two years, and this April 28th will be auctioned off to raise funds for Yavapai Community College's viticulture program. For details, please contact the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce at (928) 634-7593. Wind Dancer Gallery was opened in February of 2009 and is open year round.
A stroll up around the bend takes you to THE MANHEIM GALLERY at Main St and N 4th Street. Patt Manheim selects artists from far and wide, and materials just as varied. As Ms. Manheim describes, the Gallery is, “flooded with light entering through the floor to ceiling windows in the Great Room... it creates a wonderful space for the works of fine art by emerging and established contemporary artists.” Working in the Southwest and throughout the United States, their offerings represent a mix of media from watercolors and oils, to ceramics and sculptures in bronze and other materials. The space draws you from one room to another, and in each room there is something new to discover.
Ms. Manheim came to Arizona in the early 1960s to study and work as an artist. As a graduate of ASU, she taught art in public schools, studied Udinotti, developed her own work, and showed in several galleries. She then owned a gallery in New York, completed a doctorate at Cornell University, and became a university professor, educator and national and international consultant. When she retired from academe in 2005, Ms. Manheim returned to her beloved Arizona to renew her artistic self, but this too took an unexpected direction. She saw the building and her studio space became the gallery.
"When I first saw the beautiful stone and brick building evocative of a Frank Lloyd Wright design, I knew I had found the location for THE MANHEIM,” said Dr. Manheim of her namesake baby. THE MANHEIM GALLERY is becoming a mecca for fine art in the atmosphere of small town America. Winter Hours: Wednesday - Saturday 11:00am – 4:00pm, and other times by appointment.
Information that has Character
According to bookstore owner Ranney Moss, “Adventures Unlimited Books is a very unique, full- service book store. We are not only a general bookstore that carries every kind of new book from New York Times best sellers, children’s books, cookbooks, regional books, etc, but also a 'niche' store that carries all of Adventures Unlimited Press books on ancient history and archeology, alternative science (such as Tesla and earth energy) and alternative health. People interested in those subjects will find the largest selection in the United States at this bookstore. On top of that, we are noted for the quality and quantity of our sale books. We carry 1000s of new books in all subjects, now priced at ¼ or 1/3 of the original price, for example a $24.00 book sells for $5.98. We’ve been selling books for over 26 years with nine years in Old Town, and we bring a lot of knowledge to our customer service.” Visit their new site at adventuresunlimitedbooks.com.
Chris and Carla Wykoff introduce another fabulous bookstore to the Old Town atmosphere, Bent River Books & Music. About their recent move from around the bend next to Concho's Restaurant, “We love it. The new location at 1010 N Main St brings old friends, and new friends, too!” When asked what their favorite genres of books or bestsellers are, Mrs. Wykoff replied, “We’re general on both books and music, but I guess our special loves are books about Arizona, particularly Northern Arizona and the Four Corners area, books about the Southwest, Native Americans, literature, and counter cultures. Music-wise it’s... all live music performers?” Local performers have included Vyktoria Keating and Dave Rentz, but the Wykoffs suggest you come in anytime that works for you. They are always happy to see new faces, and live music Friday and Saturday nights go from 6pm until it is over. What inspired the Wykoffs to open a bookstore? “That’s easy – love of books and music – and of course community, too. We wanted to create a community space that is warm and welcoming. It seems to be happening and we are thrilled!”
The Wykoffs are not the only ones attracted to Old Town's community appeal. With Mom & Pop, Every Single Shop, tourism has been appreciating in numbers. Old Town Cottonwood is something to be proud of. The atmosphere it in-vibes is a special one, unique these days in the Survival of the Fittest Wall Street-style maps of America, and chain store strip malls. There is a time and a place for everything, and here we hold strong the independent and hard-working (primarily women and) men Creative Heart of America, located in the heart of Arizona, and in the heart of the Verde Valley. With the burgeoning Verde Valley Wine Trail, a full spectrum of backbone service businesses, Historic elements, an array of eye-candy boutiques and antiques, newly established one-of-a-kind restaurants, tasting rooms, and the hotels and motels which are emerging slowly, we have created a perfect balance between neighborhood and tourist site, within a warm and welcoming community, and still preserving its two most precious resources: the Verde River and the culturally deep Pioneering History.
A Too Hot Taste of Historic Old Town Cottonwood
Annabel V Sclippa
'Tis not too hot to take a taste of Old Town Cottonwood along Historic 89A, but the synonym might suggest otherwise. Seen in ads from PHOENIX Magazine to US Airlines inflight mag, TOHOT pronounced too-hot (Taste of Historic Old Town) is becoming a known slang for the Verde Valley's newest attraction.
Not just a wine lover's affair, tasting can occur upon all types of delectables from cheeses and chocolates to gelato and breads. And in Old Town Cottonwood we have something for everyone.
Back in the early 19-teens and 1920s, Cottonwood established itself as the services hub for the miners of Jerome and their families. The tastes we offered in those days sat on the slim shoulder of where devil meets angel. Stills blew the town into flames a couple of times, and the ladies were known to be more than a soiled dove. Miss Annie Hopkins, who owned what is now Hopkins Ranch, went so far as to throw a cup of acid on her lover's lover. Unfortunately it back-fired double by also burning her, and landing her in the Old Town slammer.
It seems our tastes have certainly become more refined. It's rarely a person who rambles through The Annabel Inn these days who hasn't heard of at least one world-class winemaker here. Sam Pillsbury, New Zealand movie producer gone grape growing juice pleasure-bomb of his vineyards in south-eastern Arizona, has his only tasting room in Old Town at Pillsbury Wine Company North. This is shared with Ray Freidas, one of less than a dozen female winemakers in the state, who had a white of grapes grown within the City of Cottonwood win a blind tasting in 2010 against every country and state that produces wine in the world.
Perhaps more world-famous is the Arizona Stronghold Vineyards (ASV) tasting room, an offspring of Page Spring Cellars, with Erik Glomski and rock-famous Maynard Keenen producing these bottles of nectar. They have not launched their wine strictly by its taste bud value, but also through Mr. Keenan's fame, and their documentary Blood Into Wine, a homage to wine production and grape growing here in the Verde Valley.
Now there are newly sprouting vines and rooms, becoming the next generation of juice jubilee. Billy Baker and wife Cindy opened The Cellar in July of 2011. Artfully crafted, their tasting room has all kinds of unique wine-inspired motif from the hand-made bar out of barrels, to the wine bottle lamp shades. The space also has a secret door you must ask to see. Literal 'bar makers' Tim Godin and Tim Orr are craftsmen to be admired. Winemaker Darin Evans introduced his Dionysion wines to the Bakers, and they've been making sweet success every since.
Up and coming to the Old Town TOHOT tour, Corey Turnbull, who will remain a Page Springs Cellars tasting room manager, and helped open the ASV Tasting Room, is opening his own Burning Tree Cellars Tasting Room smack dab in the heart of tasting room territory. His current two wines The Lotus and The Dragon sit signed on my shelf. Although he insists the wine is meant to be drunk, I feel like it's too special to pop. Perhaps with his new tasting room, and the launch of about 10 new wines this next year, the perfect moment will arrive.
Not a wine-lover? Maybe beer is more your style? Fear not, Rendezvous in Old Town (lovingly referred to as RIOT), has a beer tasting option for you. With 40, that's right for-tee, beers, including 20 on tap, RIOT offers a taste of Arizona with a bit of expansion into the Guinness and the Lambics to round it off. If you do like wine, have no fear, as the Cougar, RIOT's own labeled red, is here, along with about another 19 options. The menu samplings are a cuisinaires delight as well. My favorite: the pulled pork BBQ sandwich with apple slaw next to a Dirty Red Head. Go see the beer cocktail menu, you'll know what I mean.
This renovated ol' 76 Gas Station won many awards in the 70s and 80s for, according to owner Mrs. Pender, “most items sold.” That's a lot of car paraphernalia. Trying to bring it to that standard, Mrs. Pender commented they are, “redefining lounge by combining their Arizona outdoor living area with a relaxing gathering place for friends and visitors.” By seeing the crowds out most eves as I drive by, she just might do that. I'm lucky to have my happy handicapped spot out front, or lord knows where I'd have to push in from.
OK, enough of that booze stuff, but I aint' gonnna' lead you to a house of ill-repute neither. Other ways to taste your way through Old Town involve teeth and tongue, but save the liver and kidneys. The Orion Bread Company is a fine place to start. It is a fact: all breads are not created equal. Sure you can pick up a loaf of sourdough or wheat anywhere, but have you delighted in the Cranberry Walnut of Orion? My favorite French Toast starts with this as its base. Or perhaps dipped a chunk of Olive Oil Rosemary into your turkey dressing? Rare a Sunday morning goes by that I don't crave their Challah. It's sweet, fluffy braided angel light sections melt in the mouth like cotton candy. I am sure there is no calorie count in something so, well, poof.
Speaking of Cotton Candy. What Mayor Diane Joens calls “the sweetest spot in town,” is no exaggeration. The Candy Corral is a virtual museum of candy. From good ol' oldies such as Wax Lips to modern gobs of googly goop that you can throw and see explode. There is not a wall, table, or counter undecorated by colorful powders, sticks, swabs and blocks of sugary goodness. Add onto this their homemade fudges, popcorn, and ice-creams, and you have a sweet-tooth dream. Highly recommended: the Caramel Popcorn Ice-cream. It's like a triple-whammy of all your favs, plus the popcorn still crunches in the cream. How do they do that? And why are they doing that to me?
Even with all that sparkling sweet sugar rush of yumminess, there are not the decadent rich adult chocolates and Artisan cheeses of Bonne Lait. What better accompaniment to wine then a rotating 150 fromages and sultry truffled-pout chocolate currently representing 6 female chocolatiers? When guests come to visit, I jump to suggest they order in a dish of the delicacies to sit on the patio and mix Arizona free-flowing reds and whites with intentionally sliced and diced blues and aged, young and butteries. Part of the experience complet is the tray's gratis delivery full of expression and description by owner Brighid Bartosh, always dressed to the nines.
As Mrs. Bartosh explains, “We don't pack our shelves with anything and everything. I handpick every item placed on my shelves and in my cheese case. I taste and I test to make sure each product offering meets my standards for the best customer experience. I feature locally produced gourmet items and hard to find, unique imported items. We custom design cheese platters and plates to order with 24 hour notice. Special orders can be accommodated and we recommend you stop by the shop for a personal cheese consultation.” Services: Formal Fromage and Gueridon Service for special events. Mention this article and get a $2 cheese tasting, a $5 value.
If you are not for wine, beer, bread, candy, cheese or chocolate, but you love to cook... hmmm then what to do if trying a sampling extravaganza of this Old Town hood? Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders (VVOOT) gives you their 40+ flavors straight up, no need to dilute. Their complimentary samples take you on a trip around the world from succulent sweets of tangerine to exotic mixes of Harissa Hot African herb blends, Italian mix olive oil, dark chocolate vinegar, peach white balsamic, and the list is head spinning, even before you sip. Who thought to drizzle vinegar on ice cream, or blend violet with onion on salad? Doesn't matter, long as you promise to try it. You will not regret.
And now, after so many sweet samplings where do you bring it all together and have a meal encompassing a bit more tasting, and then some? In a word, Crema. Crema Cafe boasts a lovely patio area with a retro B&W print of the way the building was once upon a time, a collection of succulents that would make the botanical gardens jealous, and a menu that incorporates cheeses from Bonne Lait, breads from Orion, plus olive oils and vinegars from VVOOT. Their sandwiches have European flare, decadent mixes, scrumptious blends and also offer Yum Yum Produce's locally produced produce. Did I mention the fine array of gelato for the sampling? Sumptuous spins on standards like Double Dutch Chocolate and Salt Caramel sit in pretty shiny tins side by side with the occasional Prickly Pear, Cucumber, or Tequila Lime.
Perhaps your sampling pleasure is a slice of history? A stop at Bing's Burger Station will take you back in time to strawberry shakes, fries and burgers that make you begin to hear music from the 50s and want to don a poodle skirt. Many a pic have been flicked of the cherry red car out front, the old-school gas pumps that glisten in the sun, and mural-ed walls of smiling what's-his-name. You know who I mean... the guy who you know, you know, must be the milk man, the mail man, the shake man, or some man, who was just a super nice guy.
Down home, home town, small town, old town, this is what I love about living in this part of town. No matter where I look I see the smiling faces of the folks who make the wines, select the cheeses, bake the breads, whip up the gelato, select the oils and vinegars, cook the fabulous meals, and concoct the perfect beverages. Without a chain in site, my heart is a flutter for the joy of being in this unique destination, and not having to go far to munch, crunch, sip, and taste my way through it.
Old Town Cottonwood
StayCations of Historic Old Town
Annabel V Sclippa
It's a fact. The three most visited sites in Arizona are, in this order, the Grand Canyon, Sedona and Jerome. Situated smack-dab between numbers two and three, who thought lil' ol' Old Town Cottonwood would become a destination?
Known as a great “Destination Day Trip,” it's a jaunt from Phoenix, a weekenders easy trip from Vegas, a snowbird's winter getaway, and southernly-state inhabitant's cooler evening relief. There are many a reason to make it a choice for visiting.
These days a large draw in travel is the packaging of the trip. Once simple vacations have now become elaborate StayCations, ManCations, Ladies Getaways, SpaCations, and the list contours to any specialty. Here in the Verde Valley tours circulate around the themes of rivers, red rocks, trains, ghosts and viticulture.
Tour companies can show you the landscape up close by horseback. Just out of Old Town at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, a quick phone call to (866) 95-TRAIL or visit to http://www.trailhorseadventures.com can book you a saddle ride. Or you can get a birds-eye view when jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. Outside of the opposite side of Old Town, next to the airport, is Red Rock Skydiving. Make your travel plans with them directly at (928) 649-8899 or through http://redrockskydiving.com. Admittedly, I have done this crazy, exhilarating thing. Sedona as back splash, with the Verde River and the S-curve of Old Town, not to mention Tuzigoot splayed below, is worth the few seconds before you realize it ended way too fast.
At a slower-pace, Self-Guided Historic Walking Tours leave from the Cottonwood Hotel by appointment. One can take themselves on a tasting tour any ol' day with a simple map, some cash, and a bit of time on their hands. The tasting rooms of Old Town, lined up like dominos, make for a fun play day. Location details for all Verde Valley wineries and Tasting Rooms are available through the Verde Valley Wine Trail, http://www.vvwinetrail.com/map.html. For your own nature tour begin at the Old Town Jail and start walking the wash. Details available through one of the Verde Valley's many birding sites http://verdebirdingtrail.com/birdsites/hotspot/jailtrail. For an active, hip tour enjoy the Golf Disk course starting at Riverfront Park. Details are available through the City of Cottonwood page, http://cottonwoodaz.gov/discgolf.php.
But, where, oh where, to stay?
If you like to traverse haunting grounds of the past, The Cottonwood Hotel boasts oldest lodging in Cottonwood with a 100-year history, first opening as the O-K Hotel. Word on the street is there's a regular supply of ghost hearings. In 1925, the original wood structure burned to the ground during a town fire. In the Hotel singed the only town fatality, Reverend George Brooks, spiritual lecturer and known psychic. The clunks in the night are presumed to be the late Mr. Brooks, who should've seen that one coming.
Today The Cottonwood Hotel remains a one-of-a-kind, historic example of a prohibition-era lodging. Its upper floor has been modified and now has four well-appointed suites and 1 room. According to owner Karen Leff, “It offers Inn hospitality with modern day amenities, assuring you a trip down memory lane.” The storefront is the hotel office, and has inn-keepers' living quarters behind, with a vacation rental studio in the rear. Room rates range from $125 to $145, negotiable to better terms for longer stays.
Deeply involved in the Historic aspects of the Hotel and of the area, Ms. Leff has many pages on her website www.CottonwoodHotel.com referring to area attractions, past celebrity stays and sightings, and paranormal activity. Hotel packages are flexible and you can build your own.
Some of the hotel's more notable historical occupants include Joe Hall (Arizona’s bootlegger King), who stayed at the Cottonwood Hotel when he first came to town in July 1917. Mae West roomed there during the Roaring Twenties, and again in 1930 en route to a grand opening premier in Phoenix. In 1946 John Wayne and Gail Russell romanced at The Hotel while filming Angel & the Badman. The Cottonwood Hotel has been part of movie sets including the 1946 Desert Fury starring Burt Lancaster & ‘Lizabeth Scott, the 1967 Stay Away, Joe, starring Elvis Presley, and the 1987 Dudes starring Jon Cryer.
In 1998, The Cottonwood Hotel was listed on the National Historic Register as a contributing property to Cottonwood's Commercial District of Historic Properties.
Next to open, burn and reopen is the now fully cement and rock Sundial Motel. Originally Eden Court, the current courtyard had passthroughs to the back alley for vehicles. At the front was a Texaco station. Travelers could pump up, drive through, park in back, then stay for the night. Not much of the building has changed since the 1934 opening, but perhaps a few less windows on the street front, and the closure of those back drive-through passages, where a couple extra rooms for let have been inserted.
Rates go for $25 a night, or $130 a week, and reflect the quality of room you will receive. Although it has almost been bought a few times over the last couple of years, the current owner has had it for about the last 16 and would love to see someone snatch it up. I think I speak for most when I say, we would all love to see it fixed up. Currently the Motel is in escrow.
Although individual rooms in houses, and actual boarding houses, have been known to come and go over the years, the first official Bed & Breakfast to open in Old Town, and in all of the City of Cottonwood for that matter, is The Annabel Inn. The City actually had to write codes in the wake of this opening, paving the way for others to follow.
A European Cottage B&B, the Inn boasts numerous awards for Best Bed & Breakfast in the Verde Valley during 2009, 2010, and 2011, and was the only Bed & Breakfast in the state of Arizona to win Best of the Southwest on www.bedandbreakfast.com during 2009-2010. A 3-Leaf Rated Green B&B, it has bath and cleaning products safe enough to eat, top quality water and air systems, and offers a full gourmet breakfast for two that people would pay $30-40 at a restaurant for.
Repeat guests, referred guests and worldly guests mingle with locals, folks from the valley's above and below (Prescott and Phoenix), and come because they love the home-style cottage setting, the fresh herbs and flowers from the garden, and the use of local Orion Bread Company breads, Verde Valley Olive Oil Traders oils and vinegars, Pretty Shabby's colorful eggs, Yum Yum Produce's produce and the full attention they receive from the concierge service at breakfast.
New to The Annabel Inn, La Chambre Du Midi has added a wheelchair accessible bathroom, adhering to ADA regulations, but maintaining the coziness of the cottage. Rooms range from $95-130, include the full breakfast for two, and can be viewed at www.theannabelinn.com.
Also available as a quasi-B&B in Old Town, in a truly historic structure, is Rita's Room. One of the few lodgings in the Verde Valley offering “pet-friendly” accommodations, the guest room available rents for $40/night but is serve-yourself for breakfast. Visit http://ritasroom.ning.com.
Latest on the Old Town scene is the ten room Tavern Hotel, mimicking taste and look to its neighboring Grill. With rates from $149 and up, it caters to a similar crowd as the restaurants its owners Michelle and Erik Jurisin draw. Well appointed rooms give the feel of Vegas. Tours include a Wine Package that provides a coupon to one of the Jurisin's restaurants and the included breakfast voucher is a $5 per couple ticket to either Old Town Red Rooster or Crema Cafe. More information is available at http://www.thetavernhotel.com.
On the border of Old Town, The Little Daisy Motel is another example of staying locally. Family owned and operated, the rooms are clean and well appointed, and the price is right. At $56-125/night you are just a stone's throw from all the tour starts and stops that Old Town has to offer. Visit http://www.littledaisy.com/index.htm for details.
Outside of Cottonwood proper in Bridgeport is The Desert Rose B&B. Catering to a more sophisticated clientele, it's prices reflect this at up to $169/night. Visit www.desertroseb&b.com.
On your way into Cottonwood from SR260, sits a Motel with a an outstanding view and a hospitality history to match. The View Motel, owned by the Ball family since 1977, was originally purchased through the sale of three other lodgings in Cottonwood. But before I go there, let me give you a little Ball Family history. When Lucy and Desi Arnaz divorced in the 50s, Lucille Desiree (Ball's) brother, Fred Ball, lost his job in the film industry and his next job was to go search out land in the desert. One of the brokers he worked with happened to be Zo's (Nazoma Roznos') second cousin, and the rest is history.
Fred and Zo married, and because of her root here, they purchased land locally, numerous pieces, together over time. When they moved to town permanently in 1970, they first bought the Motor Inn Trailer Court, still located at the corner of Coconino and N 16th Street.
Sometime between 1970 and 1977 they purchased two more lodging properties, starting with the Verde Valley Motel. According to Zo and Fred's son Geoff Ball, the Motel was, “so cute, hidden by all the growth and mesquite bushes. It had just a little dirt drive, and was a little rock thing.” It had only five rooms, and Lucy's mom Dee Dee stayed in Room #5 every Thanksgiving to cook the dinner for all of them. That little Verde Valley Motel is now Nate's Cowboy Cafe. Still a sweet little rock building, where the restaurant's main seating is today was the Motel Office back then. The area to the left in front of the parking, now housing spill-over tables and the bathrooms and kitchen, was the five rooms for lodging, each with their own bathroom.
Lastly they bought The Little Daisy Motel, with the same name and location as today. In 1977 they sold the Motor Inn, the Verde Valley Motel, and The Little Daisy to purchase The View Motel. A good draw for folks rambling into Cottonwood who are up for stumbling upon a place, most of you might have been intrigued by the big old neon arrow pointing up the swooping drive. Currently running the Motel is April Ball, Geoff's sister, and Zo and Fred's daughter. Greatly missed is Fred Ball, but the rest of the family still lives near and dear. For bookings and rates, please call 928 634-7581 or visit http://www.theviewmotel.com.
West of Old Town in Clarkdale are four more small Bed & Breakfasts worth mention.
Candlewood Retreat, run by Andrea and Rennie Raddicio, is a completely off-grid reprieve from the City Life. Guests have the pleasure of mainly eating off of the property's bounty, and can schedule a massage with the Inn-keeper, or soak in the hot tub. For those with environmental sensitivities, even the building materials were selected with care. http://candlewoodretreat.com.
The Lights of Jerome B&B is a sweet little one room unit of your own run by Innkeeper Teal Sullivan. Not in Jerome, the Inn boasts views of the town on the hillside, and an eclectic array of items on the property to peruse. http://www.lightsofjerome.com.
The Blue Heron is run by Tom Murphy who says he really just calls it a B, because, “You get breakfast if I likes ya.” OK, that sounds harsher in print. If you know Tom, you know this is a jest. He does serve a continental breakfast. Details can be found at www.blueheronaz.com.
The Flying Eagle B&B has outstanding views of the valley from its perched location. Also with rates from $85, or even $55 for a 4-night stay minimum, it's as reasonable as any stay around. Visit http://www.flyingeaglecountry.com for details.
Postscript: As an Innkeeper within Old Town it was impossible to write this piece without bias. I hope my piece reflected other local lodgings' strengths, for as a group we offer destination StayCation reality, in bed, bath, breakfast and beyond.