Higher Grounds

By Malia Durbano

Nicki Alley, owner of Higher Grounds Coffee in Pagosa Springs was “really excited” when she won First Place for the business plan she wrote after attending the Leading Edge for Entrepreneurs training.

Although her coffee house, bakery and gift shop had been open since 2004, she wanted “a refresher and to update the business plan”. She will be celebrating her 10th anniversary on August 16th & 17th. The eclectic shop features scarves, mugs, cards and other novelty gift items. Fresh, home-made baked goods cooked on -site complement the delicious coffee.

Included in the new business plan were her projections to remodel and expand the seating. She also purchased a catering trailer to sell at festivals. Nicki recently attended cooking school and will soon be offering cooking classes, tapas and beer and wine. Her future plans also include inviting guest chefs to prepare different varieties of food.

Rich Lindblad is the main advisor Alley works with in an ongoing relationship. She meets with him whenever she has questions and he helps with the financials. Recently, she met with Joe Keck “to go over the books.” They did industry comparisons on shops like Higher Grounds and Joe said, “It’s really doing well.”

The Wine Merchant

By Malia Durbano Eric Allen and Lesley Ponce needed some expert advice as situations in their business changed. They were moving from their location next door to Nature’s Oasis to their current location, next to the VFW at 1514 Main Avenue in Durango. Ponce who had been employed by The Wine Merchant for 10 years, would become a partner after the move. Allen explains, “I had some questions about how to structure a lease. I

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River Rim Teardrop Trailers

By Malia Durbano Tim Rossiter and his wife Peg, love to camp and hike. They bought a cargo trailer and turned it into a camper. In researching their design, they discovered a “big movement for people who wanted a small footprint.” In March of 2013, they started researching and planning a design for a teardrop camper. Their vision was to create a custom product with quality materials and craftsmanship. The Rossiters met with Joe Keck

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Smitty’s Liquors

When Barb Higgins, her son Shiloh and his business partner Doug Jorgensen wanted to buy Smitty’s Liquors in Cortez, the first thing she did was call Joe Keck, who she had known for years. She knew the owners of Smitty’s and they were ready to retire. Her son and his partner had run a successful skateboard and clothing store in Las Vegas, but wanted to come back to Colorado. Higgins and her husband decided to

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Mountain View TLC

By Malia Durbano Family Physician, Kirsten “Kicki” Searfus originally approached the SBDC to learn how to structure the partnership she was entering with Megan Lewis Grotefund. Instead, Megan moved away and on June 1, 2013, Kicki officially was in private practice. Having always been an employee at clinics or hospitals, she was wondering where to start in figuring out how to be an entrepreneur. Advisor Joe Bishop “was super helpful” in assisting her regarding the

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Waxed

Jenna Morrison was the first employee for the full body waxing salon, Waxed, when the business opened three years ago. She was also the first person to make an offer to purchase the business when her employer, Lindsay, planned to put Waxed up for sale. Jenna, an esthetician, was a skilled and knowledgeable employee who understood all the services Waxed provided and knew the clientele. Lindsay fancied the idea of passing the ownerships reigns to

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James Ranch Grill

Cynthia Stewart’s entrepreneurial story is one that brought her around full circle.   The values instilled in her childhood were reinforced and focused on the establishment of the James Ranch Grill.  Cynthia is the daughter of Kay and David James, the founders of James Ranch, and one of five siblings.  The ranch was established in 1961 in the Animas Valley north of Durango.  As a child, she was taught how to care for animals, as well

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