In early spring of 2020, our company had the opportunity to buy back a group of tipis that we made and had been used at a major music festival. At the time, we thought we’d just send them off to new homes for budget-conscious customers. Little did we know the variety of uses we’d get from these “gently-used” canvases and poles.

First, we did sell many of them to customers who needed a quick shelter. One couple lost their jobs because of COVID- and they spent the summer in their tipi while waiting for an affordable rental home to become available. One of the lodges found a home in Iowa, where it created a special gathering place (read about that tipi here).

As COVID closures and restrictions stretched from weeks to months, our local restaurants were looking for creative ways to provide outdoor seating. City of Montrose/Dart reached out to John Gibson, Owner/CEO of Colorado Yurt Company to see if we had options using yurts, tipis and/or tents. Gibson came up with the idea to “Tipi the Town”, using the in-stock tipis that we still had on hand.

“We were fortunate to have an inventory of painted tipis that were available after use at a prominent music festival,” says Gibson, “They were perfect for this project: a good size for small groups, easy to pitch and have bold, eye-catching paintings. We were excited to share them with the community and help our fellow Montrose businesses with advertising and alternative seating.”

The establishments were excited to offer something different. David Fishering of Storm King Distillery loves the attention the tipis brought to his business. He had people come in just because they saw the tipis, and they stayed for a drink! He’s keeping his tipis in place for the summer months to continue offering a unique place for his customers to sip craft cocktails.

We recently learned that City of Montrose/DART has been awarded the Governor’s Award for Downtown Excellence People’s Choice Award for the partnership.

We only had a few tipis left when another chance to share came up. Boot Stomp Montrose, a fundraiser for our local San Juan Cancer Center, was looking for items to auction. We donated two of the painted tipis – and they were the top live auction items.

When we brought these tipis back to Montrose, we had no idea how much we’d enjoy sharing them. They have created community connections we could have never imagined.