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Artists fill in boards covering shuttered Denver shops

"The whole goal was to give people space to put something positive out there."

DENVER, Colorado — Traffic, slowing to a trickle on one of the city's busiest streets, reminds Denverites of the world of hurt coming to the shops they love. South Broadway’s window shops have shuttered, complying with a now-statewide order to stay home to prevent COVID-19 spread.

“In order to make sure we have a store to come back to, we got to keep it safe,” said Erika Righter of her boarded-up gift shop Hope Tank. “We're having to lay people off, honestly, in hopes of bringing them back as soon as possible.”

She, like so many others, can no longer sign paychecks and no longer make sales. But she refuses to let Broadway become a symbol of sadness, as sad as it all is.

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The wood panels nailed to her shop made it feel as if a hurricane is coming to the Mile High City. That is until Righter brought in some of her favorite artists to paint the panels and plaster on poems of hope.

“I think something good always comes out of dark places,” she said. “The whole goal was to give people space to put something positive out there.”

Righter, despite her own struggles, wants to keep local artists busy. So, she’s raising money to gather supplies and to pay something to artists who help board up shops. She’s also running a Facebook page to connect with businesses who need help boarding up.

A about a block south of Hope Tank sits one of South Broadway’s most popular gathering spots. But the Mutiny Information Café now only has a small window open for to-go orders. The rest is boarded up, a blank canvas for artist Jessica Halpine who also works there.

“We’re just trying to make the boards a little less sad. Its hard to board up the windows. We love this place so much,” said Halpine while painting Princess Leia over the words ‘we the people are the Resistance.’

Artists are allowed to help board up shops under Denver’s stay-home order according to a spokesperson for the Mayor’s office. Governor Jared Polis issues a statewide stay-home order on Wednesday. It will likely stay in place through April 11.