by Kairina Danforth

On December 14 the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts (CBCA) announced three finalists for its 2016 Business for the Arts Awards in each of five categories.  The Crestone Mercantile of Crestone was selected as one of the three finalists for the 2016 Philanthropy Award, which honors examplary corporate citizenship and generosity to arts and cultural projects and organizations.

CBCA will reveal the winners at its inspiring Annual Business for the Arts Award Luncheon on Wednesday, March 9 in the Seawell Ballroom at the Denver Performing Arts Complex.  Over 700 business, cultural, and civic leaders attend its arts-infused, high profile event recognizing outstanding business and arts partnerships across Colorado.  A short video highlighting each finalist will be produced and shown during the luncheon.  The CBCA press release described the Crestone Mercantile as “a major philanthropic player in this rural mountain community and actively involved in their burgeoning creative district.”

“Each year we are astounded by the diversity and dedication to the arts exhibited by the awards finalists,” says Deborah Jordy, Executive Director of CBCA. “We celebrate their achievements by throwing the most entertaining and high-profile luncheon possible.  At CBCA, we are proud to continue our 30-year tradition of connecting arts and business to advance Colorado’s creative vitality.”

The Crestone Mercantile retail center was developed by the descendants of early settlers.  In business for the past five years, the philosophy of the owners is that to be a success, which is measured by much more than economic gain, it is essential for a business to give more back than it takes. Elaine Johnson, President of the Crestone Mercantile, sits on the Board of the Crestone Creative District and serves as its Vice President and Treasurer.

She has been incredibly helpful and generous to the local creative community with her time and skills and the resources of the Crestone Mercantile.  The stores (both food and hardware) are instrumental in supporting the various non-profit projects and agencies in the community, from spearheading fundraisers to providing goods at cost.  They support others who are trying to enrich the lives of local residents.  In addition to supporting cultural organizations and projects, the stores have been at the forefront of developing the Crestone Area Business Alliance, while actively supporting Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Crestone and Creative Peak Community alliances, Pet Partners, Living Wisdom, and the library.   In our small community, they are often called upon to meet needs that are otherwise unmet, which they do with kindness and generosity.

Kim Malville, in one of the supporting letters of recommendation for the award, wrote “With homes in Boulder, Crestone and Breckenridge, I know of no business that has been as generous and altruistic in establishing and supporting growth in the arts and culture in its community as the Crestone Mercantile.”

The other two finalists for the 2016 CBCA Philanthropy Award are Ent Credit Union of Colorado Springs and U.S. Bank.  The Crestone Mercantile nomination was submitted by the Crestone Creative District.  For more information about this statewide honor for our local business, contact

Congratulations Elaine, Steve and Matt.  May the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts provide first place recognition to the Crestone Mercantile for its exemplary partnership with the arts and its dedicated contribution to our community.  We certainly do.