Finn’s Wurst Sausage

            Greg and Finn Hopkins are a father and son team that created Finn’s Wurst Sausage.  Finn came up with the idea to sell authentic German bratwurst from a New York City styled hot dog cart during a brainstorming session with his dad.  The purpose of the business is to advance Finn from employee to owner.  Finn is autistic.  His experience in the food service industry has been as a dishwasher, prep cook and busser.  He already obtained a food safety handlers certificate through a Manna’s Soup Kitchen program.  Finn decided upon bratwurst as a means to express his pride in his German heritage.  In addition to a grilled brat on a roll, Finn chose to include potato salad and sauerkraut.

            Greg does most of the work behind the scene.  Once the idea was selected, Greg’s friends told him about a free and local resource for entrepreneurs, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Fort Lewis College.  He first met SBDC’s office manager, Hannah Birdsong, when he went into their office to ask about their services.  Hannah made him an appointment with Mary Shepherd, SBDC’s deputy director.  Greg stated, “I went out of sheer panic and necessity.”  Most of his start-up business knowledge was self-directed through online research.  “When I sat down with Mary, she laid out all the things on how to run a fast food cart and business.  She explained everything about costs, figuring out prices and overhead.  Greg built upon Mary’s direction and attended the SBDC sponsored ‘Start Your Own Business Workshop.’  “My impression of the workshop was it was strictly beneficial.  Eighty percent was brand new information and the remainder was a good refresher.”  Greg especially connected with the insurance segment of the program.

            Armed with ideas and a checklist from Mary, Greg went on to acquire a business license from the City of Durango, complete a food management class and met with the public health department to learn what was needed to pass an inspection.  Finn had saved enough money to buy a food cart outright, and he and Greg had money put aside to cover the first two months of business.  To find the best brat, the Hopkin’s connected a sixth-generation family ranch family that produced USDA certified meat.  A commissary kitchen was rented to prepare the potato salad and sauerkraut.  Greg said the logistics for food preparation is a challenge because renting a kitchen is expensive and there are strict requirements for food preparation. 

            Finn’s Wurst Sausage opened May 11th, 2019 at the Durango’s Farmer’s Market.  Some aspects of ownership and operation were overwhelming for Finn.  The initial work schedule Finn and Greg had planned for had been scaled back.  Greg decided the food cart would be open on limited days; such as holidays, races and special events.  In time, their goal is to have their cart operating outside of Home Depot during the week and Finn becomes comfortable with operations and ownership.

            Greg said SBDC would be an excellent first stop for anyone new to running a business.  “Mary has great experience and is tapped in to local resources.  SBDC is a no brainer.  Those with business experience from other areas can benefit using them.  I would have fumbled through and got frustrated without SBDC’s support.  They are a resource that doesn’t cost anything and they are so dialed in to the Four Corner’s area, I would recommend them to anyone.”

Sunnyside Farms

By Malia Durbano When Holly Zink decided to open her fresh, local and organic meat and seafood business in 2002, she called Joe Keck to learn how to set up a corporation and to “make sure all my bases were covered.” When she moved to her new location inside of Nature’s Oasis in 2007, she realized there were some issues and difficulties with profitability. In 2008, she and her husband, Jesse Villanueba, attended the NxLevel

Read More »
Silver Sparrow Designs

By Malia Durbano Kristi Smith took a windy road to owning her own business and creating beautiful jewelry. As a young girl, she enjoyed drawing, painting and all expressive, creative endeavors. Upon discovering beading, she began to make jewelry for everyone she knew. In a high school she took a silver-smithing class at the local community college and knew she had found her true love. Learning that the equipment to get started was very costly,

Read More »
Pura Vida

By Malia Durbano After four years in private practice, Naturopathic Doctor, Nicola St. Mary, decided it was time to pursue her dream of building a cooperative natural healthcare practice. With the vision in mind, she began assembling practitioners to join her and the search for a building. Dr. Nicola contacted Joe Keck to “totally understand the resources that were available.” After talking with Joe and his assistant, Lynn Asano, Dr. Nicola was referred to the

Read More »
Doggy Day Care

Jeff Edens learned about Doggy Day Care in Pagosa Springs because his friends Maria and Linda worked there. He purchased the business in July of 2011 and now they both work for him. Edens had a good business background as a result of previous business experience as a home builder and realtor. Doggie Day Care provides socialization for the dogs which includes reinforcing proper social manners such as no barking, no fighting and no jumping.

Read More »
Sit-Ins

By Malia Durbano Music composer, James Bowers came up with a great idea a few years ago and formulated it more – in of all places- Trimble Hot Springs! James and his wife Lily Weisbecker had attended a string quartet concert through Music in the Mountains, which they thoroughly enjoyed. The next night, while they were at Trimble, the cello player from the ensemble also happened to be there. They began discussing how to make

Read More »
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

Read More »