Cucumber Creek Boutique brings European elegance to Breckenridge
January 10, 2017
Marilynn Nicola exudes a timeless sense of chic.
"Back in the 1960s, when skiing first got started here in Breckenridge and Vail, we'd spend the day on the slopes — and then go home, take our boots off, and change into something elegant for parties with friends," Marilynn reminisced, as I chatted with her and her daughter Rondi at their new Breckenridge boutique, Cucumber Creek, which opened in December. "Women would have on long cocktail skirts, and men always wore jackets."
Marilynn and her then-husband Trygve Berge came to Breckenridge in 1960. Trygve was an Olympic skier from Norway, and in the late 1950s was ski school director at Aspen Highlands, under Stein Erickson. One of his students, Bill Rounds of Porter and Rounds Lumber Company up north in Breckenridge, had suggested to Trygve, "Why don't you go to Breckenridge, see what you think of it as a ski area."
The main road through Breckenridge was empty, recalled Marilynn. There were no cars, and everything but the Gold Pan Saloon was boarded up. As Marilynn told the story, she was waiting for Trygve to finish his tour of the mountain, when Al Springmeyer (for whom Springmeier Run would later be named) walked up to her and asked, "Would you like to buy Main Street?" "How much?" she countered. Springmeyer replied, "$3,000."
The Berges moved to Breckenridge in 1961. Trygve became one of the founders of Breckenridge Ski Area (where lift tickets were $4) and Marilynn set to work establishing the first ski shop, The Norway Haus.
For the next 12 years, the Norway Haus would be the go-to ski shop for beautiful, high-quality European ski wear, from hand-knit Norwegian sweaters to skis and equipment from manufacturers such as the Berge's friend Howard Head of Head Ski Company.
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Rondi Berge is Marilynn and Trygve's daughter — and today she is also Marilynn's business partner. Stylish, yet more casual than her mother, she jumps in to add to the story her own childhood recollection.
""I grew up in the Norway Haus, I took naps in the dressing room while my brother slept in the display window."
In 1973, Marilynn separated from Trygve; she moved to Vail with her children and began working at the well-known Gorsuch boutique. Here she was able to express the high-end European style she had worked to develop at the Norway Haus, and to expand her work into interior design.
Marilynn and her daughter Rondi eventually opened their own shop in Avon, Pinecones Gifts & Interiors. Then, old friends from Breckenridge, such as Susan Fairweather, began urging the two women to return to Breckenridge; there was a gap left with the closing of the Norway Haus and the town needed a boutique with the kind of European style and quality that Marilynn and her daughter could offer.
"There is this energy and excitement in Breckenridge these days," said Rondi, "but also there is our family history, our connection to the founding of the ski area. Plus I have so many friends here still. It's very comfortable to be here."
This past fall, plans fell into place for a suitable location in Breckenridge. The store would be called Cucumber Creek, after a creek of the same name just outside of town.
Located at 201 South Ridge St., Cucumber Creek Boutique sits diagonally across from the Hearthstone Restaurant. The boutique will have its official grand opening this month, though the shop is already open and doing a brisk business.
Womens' clothing, jewelry and accessories are featured; selections like a black silk top with a layer of chiffon or a full-length cocktail dress seem to reflect Marilynn's sense of European elegance, while stylish embroidered leggings and short, patterned wool skirts are choices that express Rondi's more casual flair. And according to Rondi, the cozy embroidered wool slippers are her number one seller.
Housewares are also available, including colorful frames and candles, textiles for the holidays, and beautiful reindeer-decorated brass doorbells.
For Marilynn and Rondi, opening Cucumber Creek is like coming home. Both are excited about welcoming in old friends to the boutique — and meeting new friends and customers.
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