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Mesa Verde store pulls out of Cortez welcome center

Bookstore, ticket office closing; cost cited
Shannon Carver plants pinwheels in front of the Colorado Welcome Center in Cortez in this file photo.

The Mesa Verde Museum Association bookstore and tour ticket office will close its location at Colorado Welcome Center in Cortez on Oct. 28, and will not reopen at the location next year.

The bookstore has operated out of the Welcome Center for more than 10 years and has provided park visitors with an additional location to buy park tour tickets for the past four years. The decision to close was made by the MVMA board of directors in consideration of the cost of having a retail operation outside the park.

“We appreciate and value our long association with the city of Cortez and the Welcome Center, however we believe it is important to focus our operation where it has proven to be the most successful and beneficial to the park and to the MVMA,” said Teri Paul, executive director.

She said the association pays a small rent to use the Welcome Center, but that didn’t impact their finances as much as low sales. The association has been losing money from the Welcome Center bookstore for several years, she said.

“Even if we were not paying any rent, we still wouldn’t break even,” she said.

She said the Welcome Center was never meant to be a permanent location for ticket sales, but was originally a temporary solution while the park visitors center was under construction. Tickets for guided tours can still be purchased online or in Mesa Verde National Park. Tickets for the regular ranger guided tours of Cliff Palace, Balcony House, or Long House may only be purchased in person. Specialty tours of the backcountry sites or the off-hour tours of Cliff Palace and Balcony House are available only at recreation.gov.

Paul also said the bookstore in the visitors center is “doing very well.”

Sandra Crow, interim manager of the Welcome Center, said the staff plans to use the former bookstore space for something else next season, but would not give any details. She also would not comment on how the loss of the bookstore might affect the Welcome Center.

“We’ll just have to wait and see what happens,” she said.

Cortez special events coordinator Jon Brooks released an official statement on Wednesday, in which he said the city is discussing the possibility of continuing to sell Mesa Verde tickets.

“The city of Cortez appreciates the partnership over the years with the Mesa Verde Museum Association and wishes them the best in furthering their mission back up at Mesa Verde National Park,” he wrote.

Mesa Verde Museum Association is the park’s educational partner, attempting to enhance public understand of Mesa Verde through membership, volunteer and publishing programs and the operation of educational bookstores in the park and online at www.mesaverde.org.

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