Tag Archives: Villa Grove Trade

Villa Grove Trade: New Year, New Owners

The Villa Grove Trade stands at the northern gateway to the San Luis Valley.

By Kathy Bedell, © Saguache Today

“We stumbled on this opportunity,” said Allen Plumley who along with his partner Jamie Williams became the new owners of Villa Grove Trade on January 1, 2019. “I don’t think it was something we were looking for when we came to the valley.”

And maybe that’s just how these Old West stories are supposed to go, the less planning the better! Regardless, the pair now steps to the helm of one of the most historic businesses, as well as the established port of entry at the northern end of the San Luis Valley. Villa Grove Trade has been a general store since 1882 and includes a restaurant and retail area that promotes local food, artists and musicians. The business also includes The Inn @ Villa Grove.

The new owners hail from Hutchinson, Kansas and both have restaurant management experience. They have been working on site with the former owners Amber and Jeff Shook since last summer.

Meet Allen Plumley (front) and Jamie Williams (back), new owners of Villa Grove Trade

“Jamie started working here in mid-June, and my sister had worked here before,” said Plumley in an interview with Saguache Today in December. Plumley arrived in late summer after discovering that the place was up for sale, which accelerated the pair’s plans to move west to Colorado. 

“Originally there was somebody else that was going to buy it,” explained Plumley, confirming earlier reports that Villa Grove Trade was going to be bought by a Sous-Chef-from-Boulder.

Yes, for those who may not have heard, it was the tongue-wagging news that the long-time owners of Villa Grove Trade were going to be selling the place to a Sous-Chef-from-Boulder that manifested more than a few puzzling looks.  As expected, there were concerns that things would change, drastically.

“It wasn’t something that a lot of locals weren’t looking forward to,” stated Plumley.

It’s a one-stop-shop at The Villa Grove Trade, from food to lodging, to arts and crafts!

But who could blame the Shooks for wanting to sell the place – to anyone!? Hadn’t they done their time, 15 years in all? Running the only game-in-town for food and lodging can wear on folks. Sure it’s fun when the summer visitors pass through with their tips and tale tall adventures. And no doubt, there’s always time for a visit when the locals pop in for pancakes and coffee. But those 15 years that Amber and Jeff ran The Villa, also included some lean times. You wonder how you’re going to get through February, then March and maybe even as late as June until the money starts to flow again along with the spring run-off. So it’s nice when friends and neighbors see hard-working people like the Shooks get the pay-off in the end.

“I just want to sit and rock my grand babies,” Amber said during an October visit. “But we’re not going anywhere. We’ll still be here in Villa,” she added. That was back when the other buyer was the front-runner.

But the San Luis Valley has a strong spiritual reputation for a reason. So it was a comfort for many to learn that the winds of fate had changed direction and that people with a more congruous vision would be buying the place. For now, it doesn’t seem like there will be too much will change at the northern end of the SLV.

“Our plan and our vision is probably not too different from what Amber and Jeff have;  we plan on keeping it the same,” Plumey confirmed.

New owners (left to right) Jamie and Allen takes the reins from former owners Amber & Jeff.

While regulars can expect to see the same menu, like any new owners the pair will introduce some new items as well and perhaps some extended hours during the summer, including a weekly dinner night. Of course, a good meal is nicely paired with live music, another mainstay regulars can continue to look forward to. Sounds like The Villa will be grooving again come this March, with Jeff agreeing to help set up the local gigs.

As for now, you can find the Villa Grove Trade open with the same hours which are 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Daily, closed on Tuesday.  The establishment is located officially at 34094 Highway 285 in Villa Grove, CO 81155. You can also stay connected through the Villa Grove Trade Facebook Page.

Congratulations to the new owners, Allen and Jamie! And many thanks and best wishes to Amber and Jeff. Much peace and joy to all!

Journalist Kathy Bedell owns The Great Pumpkin, LLC a digital media company in Leadville, Colorado which publishes Leadville Today and Saguache Today. She may be reached at info@saguahcetoday.com

Latest News – January 8

The Day the Music Died in the San Luis Valley

By Kathy Bedell © Saguache Today

“With tremendous reluctance we have to suspend our presentation of live music,” announced Villa Grove Trade via their Facebook Page on January 6. The post ignited a firestorm of support for live music in the region and a lot frustration concerning legal choke-holds.Villa Grove Trade

At the root of the decision to no longer provide live performances are threats of lawsuits by The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI). “These are music ‘proprietorship’ corporation that claim to represent the rights to all music presented in any fashion to anyone,” explained Villa Grove Trade. “They demand payoffs by any venue, activity or other forms of public music. These “fees” are more than we can afford as a small venue and are non-negotiable.”

For readers unfamiliar, the small roadside town of Villa Grove sits unassumingly at the base of the Sangre de Cristos Mountains in the San Luis Valley. Villa Grove Trade sits at 34094 Highway 285 and touts itself as the General Store since 1882, but also acts as the only grocery, convenience store, as well as a café, specialty coffeehouse, and yes, live music venue! If you’ve traveled around Colorado at all, then chances are you’ve traveled through Villa Grove. And once you see this quaint roadside spot, it’s hard not to stop, and that would be at the Villa Grove Trade!

The Day The Music Died in Villa Grove: January 6, 2016. Owners reported that they will no longer be able to provide live music shows like the popular Fred Hargrove due to threats of lawsuits by ASCAP and BMI.

The Day The Music Died in the San Luis Valley: January 6, 2016. Villa Grove Trade owners reported that they will no longer be able to provide live musicians like Fred Hargrove due to threats of lawsuits by ASCAP and BMI.

Villa Grove Trade has been a family owned and operated business since the 1970’s. Jeff & Amber Shook have owned the business since 2002 and run it with their daughter and son-in-law, Jessica & Denny DuBoe.

The owners reported that they would gladly pay their fair share of royalties earned by the publishing artists but they fall below the minimum requirement and therefore would be penalized for being too small. In addition, venue owners receive nothing for those charges, like promotion of events or guide listings. The charges simply prohibit the venues from getting sued for hosting live local music; in the end, it’s Villa Grove Trade that bears the burden not the musicians.

“We have never charged people to enjoy an evening of live music,” posted Villa Grove Trade on their Facebook Page. “Many of them (musicians) have commented to us that this has been one of their favorite places to play.” But on January 6, 2016 was The Day The Music Died in the San Luis Valley.

The owners are trying to figure out what to do and response from the community has been overwhelming:

We’re overwhelmed with the response and support. Thank you all dear friends. This is something we love providing to the community and are saddened and frustrated by these road blocks. We’re trying to figure out our next step. We appreciate your feedback, suggestions, sharing and getting the word out on this matter, and always your support. Thank you from your friends at the Trade.

Villa Grove Trade can be reached at 719-655-2203 or connect with them via their Facebook Page

Writer Kathy Bedell owns The Great Pumpkin, A Media Company located in Leadville, which is the parent company of SaguacheToday.com and Leadville Today.com, online news source for rural communities.