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BC native fulfills vision of historic business

For Tara Bertoli, the idea of opening and running her own business has been a labor of love, both literally and figuratively.

“Since I was little, I had always been fascinated with the homes on Denver Street,” she said. “Those were always castles to me when I was a kid. One of my adult goals was to live on that street. So, we got a house on Denver Street. Manifest destiny I suppose. I thought, great, I reached one of my goals in life.”

Another goal would almost come by accident or fate. Bertoli (formerly Leon) had spent several years as a teacher and then a pharmaceutical rep. But when her son was 7, he was diagnosed with a Perthes Disease, a childhood ailment that affects the hip joint. He would be on crutches and even a wheelchair for several years. Surgery and rehabilitation helped him to walk normally again.

That’s when her life and career path took a major turn.

Having always loved Boulder City and knowing she needed a flexible schedule that would allow her more time with her son, she thought of what type of business the community needed. In her home was a picture of the old company script (money) used by Hoover Dam workers. That’s when the proverbial lightbulb went off.

“I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is destiny,’” she said. “This is exactly what Boulder City needs, a revival store.”

From that came the Boulder City Co. Store, at 525 Ave. B. Over the years, that location has been home to a handful businesses including a men’s store and most recently an antique shop. But at the time, Bertoli didn’t know where she wanted to open a store other than she knew she wanted to it to be in the town’s historic district.

After finding the location that best worked for her, she applied for a loan for not only the business but to buy the building as well. That process took six months.

“That’s where my faith came in,” she said. “My whole purpose of opening this was to be able to take care of my son. I learned a lot about banking, working with the city, subcontracting, and permits. I’m telling you, my middle name is now Perseverance. I was internally motivated and knew it was going to happen.”

She had the vision. She had the building. And then she had the loan to proceed. But there was still plenty of work ahead of her that included a little blood, lots of sweat and a few tears.

The first project was to remove five layers of flooring followed by the walls because she wanted to get down to bricks, which were made at the Hoover Dam Concrete Plant. The ceiling was next, which revealed a skylight made up of 36 windows.

“Every time I got stuck on something, I asked myself, ‘What did they do in 1931?’” she said.

Bertoli owns the former antique store, which includes the smaller building next to it. For many years it was the town’s barber shop but today, that’s her coffee shop, a popular stop year-round for residents and visitors.

“I wanted to offer a coffee shop that had wi-fi where people could come and work,” she said. “I didn’t want any TVs, just board games and conversation and laptops.”

The store itself, which officially opened in 2019, features a variety of items with the Boulder City Co. logo on it or at least Boulder City. There’s caps, shirts, mugs and magnets, to name just a few. Bertoli is quick to admit that it’s been a bit of trial and error as to what sells and what doesn’t.

“That’s my favorite part,” she said in regard to trying new things. “I wasn’t looking to reinvent the wheel. I just wanted to use what was already here. I went to the museum for ideas and that’s where I came up with my all my graphic art, which was from old newspapers.

“The retail side means more to me than the coffee shop because it’s more about teaching people about the history of our town. To me that’s more important than selling a cup of coffee.”

She said that while she’s happy with the outcome of the store and coffee shop, her dream is not yet fulfilled, but rather. still evolving.

“I call it my passion project. It’s like my third child even though my children would tell you it’s my first child,” she said, laughing. “I feel this is as authentic as it can be. I’ve tried so hard to not stray from my original vision. I feel like all the stars aligned and this was meant to happen. I’m so glad it did.

“You know how people say that you found the right job when you don’t feel like you’re working at all? That’s what this is for me.”

For more information on the store, visit bouldercitystore.com.

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