Campus West businesses unsure they can outlast Shields underpass construction

Stuart Smith

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article referred to Vic Galey as the owner, instead of the manager, of Buy Back Games. 

With construction of the underpass on Shields Street, businesses on West Elizabeth Street have been affected in different ways.


Momo Lolo, a coffee shop on West Elizabeth Street, saw a sharp decrease in business due to the construction.

“Normally, from year to year, we get an increase in business (of 10 percent) that has been reliable the entire six years we’ve been here,” Colin Garrity, owner of Momo Lolo said. “This year we’re below last year. I would guess that (sales are down) probably 15-20 percent.”

Garrity had to take on other jobs in order to prevent the shop from closing and is unsure if he will be able to stay in business until August, when the underpass is expected to be completed.

“I’ve taken outside work to bring in additional cash to keep us afloat,” Garrity said. “It is the difference between making and losing money.”

The Waltzing Kangaroo, just five doors down from Momo Lolo, has been affected by the construction, “in weird ways,” according to its employees.

“We get busy at different times,” said Georgia Sinclair, one of the employees. “The lunch rush happens later now.”

According to Kevin Olson, another employee of the store, said they have experienced less foot traffic due to a lack of parking spots as a result from the construction.

“A lot of time what we’ll see is cars driving by and they’ll be looking in the parking lot for spots, and it’ll be all full because of the construction,” Olson said. “They’ll do another loop, look in, and then they’ll just leave.”

However, Buy Back Games, located on the north side of Elizabeth Street, has not been negatively affected by the construction, said Manager Vic Galey.

“We’re actually doing better than average right now,” Galey said. “I couldn’t begin to tell you why… I was not expecting it to go this well. I was expecting no one to show up (during construction) and for us to be dead.”


Galey believes the reason for Buy Back Games’ continued success is because they are on the north side of West Elizabeth Street, while all of the construction has been on the south side.

“Gamers will go through a hell of a lot to get their games,” Galey said.

Local video rental store, The Village Vidiot has not seen continued success either, despite being located on the north side of the street.

While Buy Back Games targets a younger demographic with video games, the owner of The Village Vidiot said his customer base has dwindled as a result of the construction on Shields Street.

“It’s very destructive to tear up a corner that’s all retail,” said Scott Shepperd, the owner of The Village Vidiot. “The less retail you have, the less revenue the city gets.”

Shepperd said his business is being doubly hurt by the construction at College Avenue and Prospect Road.

“Only a third or a quarter of my customers live (near the store), the rest of them live elsewhere,” Shepperd said. “You have people coming up from Loveland on College, and they hit there and go, ‘Oh hell.’”

Many of those customers are older in age as well, and Shepperd is feeling the lack of business from them.

“I’ve lost all my older customers, everybody over 60, because they can’t figure out a way to get here,” Shepperd said.

A result in this lack of business is a strain on the business and keeping its lease.

“We were just unable to keep up,” Sheppard said. “You just can’t keep up when you’re down 40 percent, or so. We had a couple days last week that were remarkably low.”

Shepperd explained the situation using hypothetical, but very possible, numbers.

“If you have an average day of $500 during the week – and suddenly you do $227, $189, $319 – that’s a tremendous drop,” he said. “And, if you do that for 10 or 15 straight days, your checking account is empty, and you’re in trouble. And, that’s happening.”

While most of the other stores in the surrounding area are hoping that they will stay afloat long enough to outlast the construction, the Vidiot has taken a different approach. Instead of letting whatever happens happen, Shepperd has set up a fundraising page online, and has a donation jar on their front desk.

save the vidiot.jpg
The last video rental store in Fort Collins, The Village Vidiot run by Scott Shepard, keeps a donation bucket at the front of its store in light of recent construction limiting the amount of people visiting the area. (Brooke Buchan | Collegian)

“I was resigned to the fact that it’s time to close the Vidiot if I can’t service the place, I have a lease,” he said. “I didn’t want to do that. I want to do this at least five more years.”

Shepperd said the donation jar has helped the business tremendously.

“Since we started (the donations), people are making their way here, and we have been up every day since Monday of last week,” Shepperd smiled. “It’s been wonderful.”

But, Shepperd still is not sure if it will help completely.

“Will it keep going? I don’t know,” he said.

Shepperd said he was angry about the whole situation in general, especially at CSU – he said he feels that the University has disregarded the entire collection of shops on Campus West and their parking.

“They’re doing an underpass which a lot of us don’t understand the need for,” Shepperd said. “We know why you want one: because of the stadium. But, I’ve been here 24 years total, and at no point has CSU ever cared about our parking, or the lack of parking on Thursday night, Friday night or Saturday night.”

Construction of the underpass at the intersection of Shields and Elizabeth will continue, and is expected to finish in August, before the start of the 2017-2018 academic year.

Collegian reporter Stuart Smith can reached at or on Twitter @notstuartsmith