Earlier this year, The Grey House, a clothing and gift boutique in Estes Park, Colorado, celebrated 10 years in business. This is significant for many businesses because, in the past decade, the town has seen severe flooding, a global pandemic, and wildfire evacuations. But for sisters Dena King and Dani Stafford, who own the shop together, it feels especially so because of the uniqueness of their shop.
“We made the decision at the beginning that we would be closed on Sabbath,” says Dani. “A lot of people thought we were crazy. Especially those who know how busy Estes Park is on the weekends.”
Although, no doubt, every business that survived the past 10 years is happy to still be in business, Dena says they feel an extra measure of gratitude because they have seen God provide in times when failure seemed inevitable. “We were grateful to survive the first year of business, which everyone says is the hardest. But now that we’ve made it to 10 years, and through some really difficult times, we feel an extra sense of appreciation.”
“The miraculous thing is,” Dani says, “that when shoppers see we are closed on Saturday they make a point to come back the next day. I’ve lost track of the number of people who have told me this as they are shopping on Sunday. I just never expected that!”
When The Grey House began, it was tucked away in a small second story location. Three years ago, Dena and Dani acquired the space beneath the original space and have added a staircase to connect the two so that they were able to more than double their square footage. “We were a ‘hidden gem’ for the first seven years, but we realized that’s a terrible business model,” Dena says with a laugh. “We are now much more visible. Our customers love the expansion and have been so supportive of our growth!”
Shoppers regularly comment on how The Grey House is different from many neighboring stores. Most of the time, they are talking simply of product offerings because Dena and Dani have curated a unique selection and tried to avoid duplication of brands among other shops in town. “What we really hope for is that people feel different in our store,” Dani says. “It is our goal to treat each customer with love and kindness. We certainly don’t do this perfectly, but we are trying to live out our faith through our business.”
A couple who owns a store across from The Grey House gave the women a “shop warming” gift when they expanded. It is a small sign, hand painted appropriately in the color grey with part of the verse from Joshua 24:15: But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Dena and Dani liked the gift so much they put it behind the downstairs register where it has sparked more than a few conversations. “I think one of the best parts of being in business for us is that we are free to openly talk about our faith. It allows us to connect with people on a deeper level,” Dani said.
Most of the talk with customers is surface level and simply aimed at making the customers feel seen. This has paid off in ways that Dena didn’t expect. “Just a couple days ago a woman approached me at the counter and said that I might think it was strange, but she had bought her son’s first outfit from us when she was taking maternity photos in the park six years ago. She remembered talking with me and wanted to stop in to say hi. I told her that I didn’t think that was strange at all—I absolutely loved meeting her six-year-old son and being a part of their family’s story!”
Dena and Dani both say they feel blessed to be able to do something they love so much. Owning the shop together has allowed them to set their own schedules, homeschool their children, spend time with their families, and build friendships within the community. Dani says, “Now we are looking forward to the next 10 years!”
Information supplied by Dena King, with Dani Stafford.