The Clarkdale Caboose Gift Shop reopened its doors last week under new owners and former Mesa residents Laura and Patrick Ladeau.
Frequent visitors in the years before they opened their business, the Ladeaus said Clarkdale's historic charm and community events made them want to move there.
"We had been coming up here for vacations and just fell in love with it," Patrick said. "You've got a community of people here who have a children's parade on the Fourth of July, they decorate for Halloween, they go all out."
Both agreed Clarkdale's tight-knit community was the biggest draw.
"We just love the small-town feel," Laura said. "There's a lot of history here."
The Caboose opened as a self-serve visitor center in May 2011, but closed the following year after a February post on the Clarkdale Chamber of Commerce website said the group was suspending its activities.
According to a Verde Independent article published in April 2012, Chamber Secretary Robyn Prudhomme-Bauer said, "The Town of Clarkdale is going through an economic strategy process. Hopefully, out of that will be reactivation of the chamber or a business association."
She said one option for The Caboose was for the space to be leased out for retail use.
Meanwhile, the Ladeaus' two daughters got married in the same year, one in June and the other in December 2012.
"So that next March, we came and we knew we were looking for a place, and we found one," Patrick said.
"We were just talking about how we'd like to maybe open a business here and the different places that were available for rent," Laura said.
Filardo recommended the two look into renting The Caboose from Kerrie Snyder, owner of the 10-12 Lounge in Clarkdale.
"We came and looked at it, and we thought, OK, this is the perfect size," she said. "We're brand new business owners starting out, and we thought something small wouldn't be overwhelming."
Councilman Bill Regner attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony held March 3 at along with about 30 residents.
"Clarkdale's challenge has been to develop a critical mass of activity in this area so that it becomes more of a destination place," he said.
Four Eight Wineworks came into the downtown area in October of last year, adding to the 10-12 Lounge, Main Street Cafe, the Newstand, and the Corner Gallery.
The town now has two museums, with the Clarkdale History Museum painting a local picture and The Copper Art Museum offering a look into one of Arizona's five C's.
"And now this," Regner said, standing outside The Caboose while people lingered to chat after the red ribbon was cut. "This is just another place people can come and get information about Clarkdale, pick up a souvenir from Clarkdale."
He said The Caboose lends itself to the sustainability of Clarkdale, one of the town's running themes.
"We've been trying to sustain this area and bring it back to life," he said. "This is another nice addition to that."
The Verde Canyon Railroad donated The Caboose to Clarkdale in 1998. Regner said volunteers tore down and rebuilt the deteriorated roof. Tracks were laid, and the space was used as a visitor center.
"So, it's nice because it's been sitting here and we weren't sure what it would become and what it would be," he said.
He said The Caboose is a place where the people in town can come gather.
"The biggest thrill for us is that it's another place people can come see," he said. "It adds to the richness of downtown, it's a place people in Clarkdale can come to, and then people from out of Clarkdale can come and see that it's a beautiful town."
Earrings made from copper and beads are some of the pieces occupying the "Made in Clarkdale" shelves.
"Then we have some from the other Verde Valley, like Cottonwood and Camp Verde," Laura said.
Prices range from about $5 to $40 usually, though a few pieces can cost as much as $125. Homemade cupcakes, snacks and cold drinks will be sold along with souvenir items like coffee mugs and T-shirts.
The business, located across the street from Clarkdale's town hall, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Posted: Wednesday, March 12, 2014
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This gift shop is so neat. They have local art organic goat milk body products and stuff for children. There cupcakes are amazing and the owners couldnt be nicer. This shop is a great addition to clarkdale.