Every town has one — a Link Lane of their own. This is where start-ups and stay forever businesses alike carve out a space for production, storage, shipping, and dreaming up new ideas. It’s an area of town where business is getting done.
Here in Fort Collins “Link Lane” is an industrial part of town just on the outskirts of Old Town. There used to be a small airport here, now there are hangers with people printing and stacking organic cotton t shirts, small breweries and distilleries hoping to make it big, motorcycle tune shops and some quirky businesses, too – like a business that wholesales just one thing: broadcast studio furniture. Who knew?
What all these places have in common is a dream. Their owners are born entrepreneurs… business daredevils. When I drive up and down some of the dozen short, interconnected streets delivering labels, I like to see who’s hung up new shingles. It’s a neighborhood of nothing but businesses, no residences out here. If you are driving by at night, you’ll see doors open and lights on inside and an inventor at his worktable – absorbed in his project and unaware that the sun has already set.
The Link Lanes of the world are a sub-culture. The space is cheap and parking is easy. Business owners can come and go, as they like. There are no storefronts. It’s all happening behind the scenes, inside, under a propane heater, in the swirl of sawdust.
If you have been visiting your own version of Link Lane, you’ll see success happen seemingly overnight. A brewery painted with multiple primary colors with a tin awning over the patio finally gets some ‘cross over’ traffic from the busy part of town. The word is out — this small, hidden spot is ‘special.’ Plus the beer is really good! A t-shirt company finally gets enough repeat, dependable orders to move to a retail location downtown, where she puts up the same shingle she had outside her much less glamorous digs in Link Lane Town.
Link Lane Town: That’s what I’m calling these dozen short entrepreneurial streets. They are villages within cities for the business dreamers. Everyone off together in a few distant corners, pushing the possibilities, going for it.
Let’s hear it for the outskirt dwellers, the industrial building occupiers, those in their multiple tenant Quonset huts and their repurposed hangers. Work on!