Make tracks to the Silver Lynx in Ouray to for arts and gifts from self-employed craftspeople
The romance started in Lake City, Colorado. That’s where Scott Stalker and Mary Carkin met and fell in love: with one another, the mountains and the forest and their entrepreneurial ambition to establish a retail gift store.
That’s the backstory to the Silver Lynx in Ouray, where discerning shoppers find products that celebrate the natural world and the geology, flora, fauna and fungi of the Rocky Mountain West. They offer beautiful fair-trade, artisan-made items from across the U.S., including items made by themselves.
“Silver Lynx is a play on words, and sounds like ‘silver links,’ a reference to our jewelry,” said Mary. The name is also very relevant to the sense of place in Ouray. “Silver was one of the main ores mined in the area during the 1870s mining boom. And the lynx is a local animal that’s elusive and uncommon to see.”
In 2015, the couple knew it was time to expand and move Silver Lynx from Lake City to a more robust location.
“We started searching for a visitor destination with a dense, walkable and historic downtown, in a community that valued its makers, and that offered year-round foot traffic. Ouray checked all the boxes, but would we be able to find a home for our business and for ourselves?” said Mary. “We did. There was an ad in the Ouray newspaper for a retail space in the historic Story Block Building. We rented, and eventually purchased, a space from Jan and Paul Sunderland who had restored and upgraded the beautiful building on Main Street.”
Scott was born an artist, and studied fine art at Texas State University. After finishing school, he worked as a graphic designer and illustrator for years before his work led him to Colorado. Mary is also a lifelong artist, dabbling in drawing, photography and jewelry making.
Her parents gave her two bits of advice: do what you love, and don’t work for anyone else. For a long while Mary made and sold her own jewelry. Scott and Mary see their small business as a way to maintain their passion for creation, and are grateful to be able to support themselves by making and sharing their visions.
“After leaning heavily on outside brands to stock our store, we realized that the secret to standing out among the mass-produced stuff was to make their own brand with our own designs. Each year, we expand our portfolio of mountain and animal themed artwork to new product offerings,” said Mary. “We also value the work of other makers like us, and believe that all people should be paid a fair wage for their work. In 2021, we began to feature handmade goods from others alongside our own.”
With myriad elements to manage as small business owners, they’re grateful they can have a worry-free banking relationship.
“Running a tiny business means that we wear all of the hats, so it’s important that our relationships be easy, smooth and trouble-free,” said Mary. “The Alpine Bank people we work with take our worries away. When pandemic relief PPP loans became available, they notified us immediately and walked us through the entire process. And the Alpine Bank online banking integrates with our accounting software and helps keep our bookkeeping time to a minimum.” She adds that local branch employees are always kind and smart, and a pleasure to interact with them.