For an experienced businessman like Bob Corman, the Shops at Beeler Park looked like the perfect place for his third Paws’n’Play pet store. It’s location at E. 56th Ave and Central Park Blvd. has lots of cars going by each day, and it’s surrounded by newly developed Stapleton neighborhoods with lots of dog owners. In addition, new construction offered him the chance to design the store with a self-service dog wash, a feature he’d long wanted. He liked the plans showing a new neighborhood retail center where he and other small businesses would all open about the same time.
With his experience running two other Paws’n’Play stores, he know exactly what pet food products to carry. “We’re very particular about our ingredients; we don’t carry any that have a byproduct of corn, soy or wheat. We try to carry limited-ingredient natural products, and we really stress buying from as many local companies as we can.”
Corman also sells CBD products for dogs that have arthritis, dysplasia, or cancer. “We probably have 60 to 70 cats, dogs, rabbits that use it daily for anxiety or pain management—especially for dogs like my rescue golden who is scared to death of fireworks. It really helps keep her calm.”
Years of retail experience at Albertson’s and as Purchasing Director for the State of Colorado Department of Transportation gave Corman all the skills he needs for running his businesses. But he acknowledges that trying to open a business in Denver is difficult. His work in the government, however, gave him an understanding of “government-speak,” which helped him through the required paperwork. But his experience couldn’t mitigate the other hurdles.
The shopping center plans originally had opening day scheduled in October. That got pushed to January. By February, Corman thought he could start stocking his shelves—but had to stop. Finally, on March 23 he officially opened. Yes. March 23. The day the mayor announced the stay-at-home order and that non-essential businesses would close.
Selling pet food is considered an essential business, so he could stay open. Initially there was a rush of business, says Corman, but it “kind of fell off a cliff.” His dog wash is self-service and in it’s own separate space, so happy customers patronized it initially, but the City determined a dog wash is non-essential, so it’s closed now.
COVID-19 restrictions turned out to be only one part of Corman’s frustrations. He has been waiting three months and still doesn’t have approval from the City of Denver for his sign. And instead of being surrounded by other new businesses, he’s alone—and the parking lot is full of equipment due to the gas station being under construction. Developer Tyler Carlson explains that some of the lots were sold, so his company no longer has any control over their plans. He says the Taco Bell is expected to open May 8, and the car wash and gas station should open in June. Panda Express is expected to start construction in the next two weeks and open in late September or October. Future plans for the barber shop, the restaurant and the nail salon are unclear at this time. “We feel terrible,” says Carlson. “We’re working with him [Corman] on rent so he can survive til the other tenants open.”
Paws’n’Play is located at 5665 N. Beeler St., www.pawsnplay.com, 720-502-6960.