Meet the mastermind behind a new era of retail in Olde Town Arvada
“I don’t ever have great, big, giant plans,” said entrepreneur and Arvada native Scott Spears. “I just want to have fun all the time. That’s all I want to do.”
If his name doesn’t ring a bell, his face — heavily bearded with a warm smile — might be familiar. It’s likely you’ve seen him in one of the four stores he owns and operates in the heart of Olde Town.
Spears, 36, is spearheading a new era in downtown Arvada’s retail scene, having opened the stores in less than 10 years, with a fifth one on the way.
But if you ask Spears about his journey to success or his plans for the future, he’ll tell you he’s playing it all by ear. He attributes his success to luck.
“Honestly, it’s rolling the dice on every single one of these. We’ve been very blessed that they’ve been successful,” Spears said.
He gives an abundance of credit to his mother and his wife, who both have experience in retail purchasing.
“My wife means everything, and she is the glue that holds everything together. My mom is the same. They do everything to help. They are so supportive. There is not a chance I could do it without them,” Spears said.
Spears had no intention of becoming a serial entrepreneur, which is what he bashfully titles himself.
After graduating in 2006 with a degree in communication from University of Colorado Boulder, Spears planned on following his parents’ footsteps into the realm of residential real estate. He spent a few years practicing the family trade in Superior, but it was “the worst possible time” to enter the business, Spears said.
So, on a fateful day in 2009 with a blank canvas stretched metaphorically in front of him, he sat in an Olde Town bank with his mother. Spears looked out the window and saw a for-sale sign on the store across the street — 7523 Grandview Ave. With a jolt of inspiration he took a leap of faith.
His mother lent a hand in purchasing the building. Then, with a store in his possession and not much of an idea of what to next, Spears got to work.
“People down here are looking for more retail,” he said. “Growing up, Olde Town was all antique stores. When I went to Boulder and found all these cool areas, like The Hill, Old Town Louisville, Pearl Street, I thought, ‘Why don’t we have this in Arvada?’”
He thought fondly of an ice cream shop in Boulder he frequented as a college student. A Craigslist search turned up some cheap candy bins. So, on June 21, 2010 — the first official day of summer — Spears opened the doors to Scrumptious.
His best friend helped him run the shop, while Spears experimented with ice cream recipes and spent most of his time on scooping duty.
“It’s like bartending — mixing the ingredients together to make great flavors,” said Spears, who tended bar during college.
He said he was happy with how things were going.
“I thought I was going to just work behind the counter making ice cream,” he said. He had no idea what would come next. “It all snowballed from there.”
It wasn’t long before Spears was rarely behind the counter. His ice cream flavors were a hit, and he had to hire more staff to meet customer demand. In 2013, he opened another location in Longmont. In 2014, Scrumptious went mobile, traveling to private events and public festivals throughout the metro area in a food truck-style kitchen.
“Five or six years ago, Arvada was nowhere near the Olde Town we have today. It was a lot of thrift shops and antique stores. Then, Scrumptious was up and running, and it showed promise. It was the right time, right place,” said Mike Huggins, president of Olde Town’s Business Improvement District.
Riding on the coattails of Scrumptious’ success, Spears tried his luck again when he saw DiCicco’s Italian Restaurant close in 2014. He created School House Kitchen and Libations.
Spears humbly shrugs when talking of his success.
“I open things that I like,” he said. “I really like whiskey. We have over 1,300 whiskeys at School House. It was easy for me.”
Almost exactly a year after the grand opening of School House, a kitchen fire nearly destroyed it. Spears was undaunted. The doors were shut almost two months for repairs, but by April 2016, cooks were back in the kitchen and Spears was back at the drawing board.
Last March, Spears debuted Sock. A few months later, he introduced Super Zoom Bang Bang around the corner.
“(He is) opening up different businesses, and he’s catering to the various demographics we have there,” Huggins said.
“Olde Town is the next Highlands, and I think that’s been proven,” Spears said. “The area has just taken off. It has the cool, old, walking streets. It has the square. It has something for everyone. It’s organic. People want this old-town feel.”
With four seemingly successful stores under his belt, it didn’t come as much of a surprise when Spears was elected vice president of Olde Town’s Business Improvement District in July.
“I think Scott is a great ambassador for Olde Town. He’s clearly put his footprint here in the amount of businesses he has opened,” said BID executive director Nathan Bishop. “He’s done it all — restaurant, ice cream, retail. They are family-friendly, but they are hip. That’s not something you always get with a single operator.”
Spears is working on a new treat for the community, but he’s keeping it under wraps. The new store will take the place of Olde Town’s recently shuttered Ophelia’s, a family-owned Mexican restaurant.
“He caters to the innocence of adolescence (with his other stores). From what he told me, (his new shop) might be a little more mature,” Huggins said.
Spears has hinted the store will feature another branch of the food industry, but otherwise remains tight-lipped.
What he will say: “It’s going to be something that’s different and not already down here. That’s important to me when opening up a store, especially here in Olde Town. We’re not going to be selling pizza. We’re not going to be a coffee shop. We’re not going to be a whiskey bar.”
Spears said he hopes to see Olde Town continue to grow and diversify.
“He sees a lot of pride in his downtown,” Bishop said of the entrepreneur. “And there’s a lot of potential that is still to be had here.”
And after the mystery project?
“No idea,” Spears says. “I want the whole area to do great. And I want my (business) neighbors to be successful … But I’m just going to keep having fun, and just enjoy life.”