In 1995, Coolio topped the Billboard charts with “Gangsta’s Paradise,” director Joel Schumacher’s “Batman Forever” dominated the box offices and the Town of Mountain Village was born. In Telluride, a young Jenny DiFiore opened a shoe store. Flash forward 25 years, and Scarpe on 250 East Pacific Ave. is a 2,200-square-foot clothing store, carrying women’s, men’s and kids clothes and toys, and, yes, shoes.
“It’s like a mini-department store,” she said of her current space. “I mean I wasn’t even 25 years old at the time. My biggest aspiration was maybe I would open up multiple stores. Maybe in Crested Butte. Maybe in Durango. That was more of what I thought. At the time, there were some other clothing stores in town. Really it was a need that I was filling. There were places to buy fashionable clothing, but not a place to buy fashionable shoes.”
She remembered how much Telluride has changed in the last quarter century, particularly fashion wise.
“Twenty five years ago town was extremely different,” DiFiore said. “Today versus then and the level of fashion that’s going on now. I mean I was wearing hiking boots to go out. … Back in the day, we’d go to the Swede Finn Hall wearing Tevas or hiking boots. Now, it’s going to The National wearing heels and dressy tops. It’s just a whole other level of how people are dressing in Telluride.”
DiFiore doesn’t necessarily buy up the latest fashion trends, but instead focuses on dressing her clientele “from head to toe” with comfortable, fashionable pieces, as “you can buy everything in the store.”
“I’m not the typical buyer that’s addicted to looking at fashion magazines and seeing what all the trends are. When I’m buying it’s more unique pieces, it’s timeless pieces. I pride myself on not buying super trendy, but more buying something in your wardrobe for the next 20 years and be like ‘this is my favorite shirt from Scarpe,’” she said. “I’m also about comfort. I’m also about practicality. For me, with shoes, it’s always been that they have to feel good on my feet or I won’t buy them. Even if it’s a heel, it’s a very comfortable heel. It’s rare that you’ll see a stiletto heel in Scarpe, because I personally would never put one on my foot. … That’s one thing people know and love and respect about shopping here.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic has cleared the summer calendar of virtually every gathering and festival, which is annually a big boost to business since Scarpe is on the way to the Telluride Town Park entrance past the post office, everything is going well. Patrons are required to wear facemasks and maintain social distance; hand sanitizer is also available.
“It’s going to be an interesting summer with no festivals. For me, festivals are great. We’re right on the path (to Town Park) and it brings in customers. I have repeat clientele year after year for people that come to festivals every year,” DiFiore said. “There’s that huge influx of people coming to town. That’s hard to make up for. But there are also tons of second homeowners that are in town. There are tons of locals who haven’t been traveling like they would normally travel. … We’re doing OK. People are still coming in. People are still shopping. People are still thrilled to be here. People are so happy to be in Telluride.”
She encouraged interested shoppers to stop in and peruse the sales rack, which is quickly thinning. A 25-year celebration at the Transfer Warehouse had to be canceled due to the pandemic, but DiFiore is grateful for her family, friends and clients, which have become like family, over the years, adding that maybe she’ll just have to wait for her 30-year anniversary to throw a party.
“I feel super blessed to be in Telluride and have a career that I love. I get to work with clientele that I’ve had for years. I’ve had clientele for 25 years. It’s always fun to find new clients. When people find Scarpe, they’re so excited,” she said. “I’ve had amazing employees over the years. I’ve had an amazing amount of loyalty and friendship. … I definitely didn’t think it would be the extent of what it is now.”