Platte Street convenience store, tech firm’s testing ground, closes after four years

P6012362 scaled

Platte Street Mercantile has closed at 1620 Platte St. (Maia Luem/BusinessDen)

On May 31, 2019, Janine Williams signed a lease to open Platte Street Mercantile. 

On Wednesday night, exactly four years later, she boxed up the shelves and closed the self-service convenience store at the edge of LoHi for good. 

“We’re really sad, really frustrated,” Williams said. “That business should not have gone under.”

Janine Williams Headshot Impulsify

Janine Williams (Courtesy Impulsify)

Williams is the founder of Impulsify, a company started in 2013 that provides software for unstaffed convenience stores often found in hotels and apartment complexes. Its clients include Hilton and Denver-based Stonebridge Cos.

Williams and her best friend Tammy Williams (no relation), who also works for Impulsify, opened Platte Street Mercantile at 1620 Platte St. to essentially test and improve the company’s product. 

At the time, Impulify’s offices were next door at 1644 Platte St. The store enabled Impulsify to better learn what their clients needed and see firsthand how the software worked. 

Mercantile used Impulsify’s “Grab & Go” system. Customers checked themselves out. The store’s one employee would greet them and restock shelves.

Impulsify is “thriving,” Janine Williams said, while Mercantile never made a profit. She said she didn’t expect one the first year, and knew recovery time was needed once the pandemic hit, but expected the store to eventually make money. 

Williams said the store was hit with numerous challenges, including opening right before the pandemic, minimum wage increases, and theft and violence.

“When you started looking at the math, it wasn’t possible … it’s not worth the cost of our cash and certainly not worth the cost of the real estate,” Williams said. 

By the end, Williams said, she was paying employees out of her personal savings and closing early for safety concerns. She said her employees often had to deal with people using drugs, stealing and getting violent in the store. She kept pepper spray on hand for her employees. 

“It’s crippling for a small business,” Williams said. “The only people who can afford to do business in Denver are these global companies. It’s going to systematically remove the charm of Denver – we’re seeing pieces of Denver history get wiped out.”

Williams said someone else is taking over the 1,100 square-feet space to open a tea shop. 

“It served its purpose … I wish so much we could’ve sold it to someone who could run it as a full-time operator but … we needed to stop bleeding,” Williams said.

Williams is now focusing full time on Impulsify, whose office is now on RiNo’s Taxi campus. The company has 35 employees and expects to be in at least 1,300 multifamily complexes and hotels across the U.S. by the end of the year, she said. 

“With just the sheer amount of money that went into Platte Street, we could’ve hired several employees and we’re growing so fast … we have to prioritize Impulsify over this endeavor,” Williams said.

It’s not the only recent closing along Platte Street. Carbon Cafe and Habit Doughnut shuttered in May after nine years at 1553 Platte St. The former Superfood Bar space at 1541 Platte St. also sits unused.

Additionally, convenience store chain Kum & Go closed its Riverfront Park location, a short walk from Platte Street Mercantile, at the end of last year.

P6012362 scaled

Platte Street Mercantile has closed at 1620 Platte St. (Maia Luem/BusinessDen)

On May 31, 2019, Janine Williams signed a lease to open Platte Street Mercantile. 

On Wednesday night, exactly four years later, she boxed up the shelves and closed the self-service convenience store at the edge of LoHi for good. 

“We’re really sad, really frustrated,” Williams said. “That business should not have gone under.”

Janine Williams Headshot Impulsify

Janine Williams (Courtesy Impulsify)

Williams is the founder of Impulsify, a company started in 2013 that provides software for unstaffed convenience stores often found in hotels and apartment complexes. Its clients include Hilton and Denver-based Stonebridge Cos.

Williams and her best friend Tammy Williams (no relation), who also works for Impulsify, opened Platte Street Mercantile at 1620 Platte St. to essentially test and improve the company’s product. 

At the time, Impulify’s offices were next door at 1644 Platte St. The store enabled Impulsify to better learn what their clients needed and see firsthand how the software worked. 

Mercantile used Impulsify’s “Grab & Go” system. Customers checked themselves out. The store’s one employee would greet them and restock shelves.

Impulsify is “thriving,” Janine Williams said, while Mercantile never made a profit. She said she didn’t expect one the first year, and knew recovery time was needed once the pandemic hit, but expected the store to eventually make money. 

Williams said the store was hit with numerous challenges, including opening right before the pandemic, minimum wage increases, and theft and violence.

“When you started looking at the math, it wasn’t possible … it’s not worth the cost of our cash and certainly not worth the cost of the real estate,” Williams said. 

By the end, Williams said, she was paying employees out of her personal savings and closing early for safety concerns. She said her employees often had to deal with people using drugs, stealing and getting violent in the store. She kept pepper spray on hand for her employees. 

“It’s crippling for a small business,” Williams said. “The only people who can afford to do business in Denver are these global companies. It’s going to systematically remove the charm of Denver – we’re seeing pieces of Denver history get wiped out.”

Williams said someone else is taking over the 1,100 square-feet space to open a tea shop. 

“It served its purpose … I wish so much we could’ve sold it to someone who could run it as a full-time operator but … we needed to stop bleeding,” Williams said.

Williams is now focusing full time on Impulsify, whose office is now on RiNo’s Taxi campus. The company has 35 employees and expects to be in at least 1,300 multifamily complexes and hotels across the U.S. by the end of the year, she said. 

“With just the sheer amount of money that went into Platte Street, we could’ve hired several employees and we’re growing so fast … we have to prioritize Impulsify over this endeavor,” Williams said.

It’s not the only recent closing along Platte Street. Carbon Cafe and Habit Doughnut shuttered in May after nine years at 1553 Platte St. The former Superfood Bar space at 1541 Platte St. also sits unused.

Additionally, convenience store chain Kum & Go closed its Riverfront Park location, a short walk from Platte Street Mercantile, at the end of last year.

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