February 26, 2021
Local businesses invited to Fremont Provisions on March 3 to learn about new local resources
A familiar face is providing a renewed presence in Cañon City for the Southern Colorado Small Business Development Center (SOCOSBDC), an organization with resources to help local business owners start and expand.
Former Cañon City banker Allan Tormohlen stepped into a new role as a certified business consultant for the state- and federally-funded
He already knows many local business owners from his banking days, but he is already introducing himself to new faces.will formally introduce him to the community at a free Meet and Greet event open to the public from 10 a.m. to noon on March 3 at the soon-to-be-open Fremont Provisions located at 507 Main Street. Refreshments will be available.
Other small business resource representatives on hand will include Brian Estrada, director of the Southern Colorado SBDC and Mark Madic, director of the Southern Colorado Innovation Link.
“I’ve always had a passion for helping entrepreneurs realize their dream,” Tormohlen said. “I built a career on it, and I look forward to bringing that experience and expertise to this new role.”
In addition to wearing out shoe leather going to Tormohlen will also be holding office hours a few hours a week at City Hall, where businesses will be able to book time for confidential, one-on-one consultation sessions to hone their planning, marketing, accounting, structure, and other critical aspects of their businesses.
The Small Business Development Center is dedicated to helping existing and new businesses grow and prosper in Southern Colorado by providing consultation, training, and other services free.
The idea is to let their staff’s knowledge help entrepreneurs create and retain jobs, secure loans, increase sales, win government contracts, obtain certifications, and more.
“I look forward to meeting the risk-takers and dreamers daring to move Cañon City’s economy forward, and helping them find success,” Tormohlen said.
Storefronts continue to fill downtown
February saw two more grand openings. The first was a food and gift shop featuring locally-made products from Colorado artisans. The second was a thrift store with an eye toward giving back to the community.
The Pickle Patch
Two years ago, Shane Skinner and his wife Lauren loaded up a tiny house on wheels full of jars of pickles and hit the road.
What had started as a hobby for the new couple to bond over quickly grew into a full-fledged business calledthat was raking in money at farmer’s markets and fairs all over Colorado.
The Skinners met dozens of micro-businesses like themselves along their travels. The stories of these entrepreneurs inspired them, and they realized another calling. Using Lauren’s master’s in business administration and Shane’s background in distribution for several huge companies, they began buying wholesale from the brands they fell in love with and selling them at retail on the road.
The brands received exposure and steady income. The Pickle Patch diversified its business.
Then the pandemic hit. Events evaporated. Suddenly, the only mission was survival. For them, and for the brands they’d taken under their wing.
“Look, we want to make money too, of course. But, for us, it’s really about these small Colorado businesses, it’s about their stories,” Shane said.
So, the Skinners diversified again. This time to a retail storefront at 119 North 5th Street in Cañon City.
Shane points out product after product – hot sauces, wood carvings, wooden watches, soaps, candles – and offers snippets of the stories behind the brands.
That man is using this business to make enough money to put his kid through college. This woman is using her grandmother’s recipe from the old country.
“It’s not about the sauce,” Shane said. “It’s about the people.”
What If Thrift
The question “What If?” started out as a way for Lori Jones to express her doubts about opening a store on Main Street.
As in, "What if no one comes in?" or "What if I can’t turn a profit?"
Then, that question became a source of inspiration for her. What if she can do some good for a community that has done so much for her family?
Jones has parlayed her years of retail experience into, a new store at 520 Main Street featuring clothing, jewelry, and local art.
A call for donations to test the waters led to a flood of items from the community to get her started. A two-car garage worth of things, Jones laughed. That settled her doubts, and she was thrilled to see steady traffic all day during her grand opening.
“I love apparel, I love thrift stores and I have retail experience,” Jones said. “This is a natural fit for me.”
Plus, she added, she gets to be her own boss.
She believes her store stands out because of how organized her offerings are.
“I want this store to be shoppable and pleasant to the eye,” Jones said.
Jones plans to donate some of her profits back to nonprofits. She encouraged local organizations to reach out to her with their needs.
Cañon Made – Heat, pressure, and lasers spark couple’s “accidental” manufacturing business
The cozy apartment at the back of Tom and Cat Kerstiens home is something of a dream factory.
If you can dream it, this couple can design it and print, engrave and press it onto just about any material you can imagine.
Pyramids of etched pint glasses, leaning towers of t-shirts, rows of engraved wood and stone plaques fill every nook of Karma Studio, the couple’s blossoming craft manufacturing business.
The Kerstiens gathered in the studio on a recent Thursday evening as they do most evenings after a full day’s work, amid the glow of computer monitors and the hum of a half dozen high-tech machines, to create new products and fill orders.
“This was all an accident,” Tom said, pointing at his wife. “It’s her fault.”
Cat cracked a smile.
From hobby to growing business
It started with postcards featuring Cat’s bright, whimsical art. Her work caught on with a handful of vendors. Her creativity led her to seek a new medium for her ideas. Soon followed a heat press to print onto things like t-shirts and coffee mugs.
“All it took was her artistic vision, some heat, and some pressure. Boom, suddenly we had a little business on our hands,” Tom said.
Then, Tom said with a laugh, things got serious. Cat told him they needed a laser machine for engraving in glass and wood.
He relented, Tom said, but warned her he wasn’t going to mess with that equipment.
“That didn’t last,” Cat said. “As soon as he saw the laser sparking and jittering on the surface of the glass, he was hooked.”
Tom and Cat’s 11-year-old daughter, Amariah, has also found her favorite machine for creating products.
She has a knack for creating stickers and decals on a small machine called the “cricket”. She is also venturing into making her own shirts and hoodies on the direct-to-garment printing machine.
The most recent addition to the family of machinery at Karma Studio will allow the Kerstiens to laser engrave on metals and other products, opening a whole new line of possibilities for Tom and Cat to work their creative magic.
Business boomed enough Cat is now working full-time for the studio.
For the Kerstiens, the late nights and calculated risks to invest in new equipment is paying off.
Small manufacturers have a mighty effect on the local economy
Encouraging small-scale, local manufacturers like Karma Studio fosters entrepreneurship and homegrown industries. Small-scale manufacturers range from food producers and jewelry makers to breweries and bakeries.
The vast majority of job growth springs from these types of small businesses, and though most serve a local market, some will inevitably grow to employ more people and tap outside markets that funnel new wealth into the community.
“When you start bringing wealth in from outside Cañon City by selling products regionally or nationally, those are primary jobs, and that’s how we build a stronger, more stable economy for everyone,” said Rick Harrmann, economic development manager for the City of Cañon City.
Do you know of a small-scale manufacturing company in Cañon City you’d love to see highlighted? Send your ideas to email@example.com. We would love to turn Cañon Made into a recurring feature that helps drive awareness of our local artisans, crafters and makers.
January 25, 2021
- Grand Openings and Anniversaries
- New Marketing Opportunities
- Fremont Provisions
- New Preservation Program
Welcome Bella Phoenix Recovery & Thrift Store AND Brooke's Hair and Nails
Downtown welcomed two new merchants this week: Cindy Gall, of Bella Phoenix Recovery and Thrift Store and her daughter Brooke Tackett, of Brooke’s Hair and Nails. Both businesses operate out of 121 S. Fifth St.
After a 16-year career as a realtor in Fort Hood, Texas, Cindy Gall returned to her native Cañon City. She wanted a new direction but realized the art of the sale was still in her blood. The solution was to try her hand at retail. “I am all about creativity and problem solving,” Gall said. “Running a business definitely scratches those two itches.”
The store includes men’s and women’s clothing, jewelry, and other items. Her daughter, Brooke, has six years of cosmetology experience and the two are thrilled to embark on an adventure together. Ask Gall about the future of her business and it’s clear she wants to expand and diversify as her new store takes off. She is also excited to participate in making Downtown Cañon City a destination.
Eventually, she wants her business to directly benefit people and families recovering from addiction and other personal struggles. That’s why she chose the name Bella Phoenix. “I like to dream big,” Gall laughed.
We want to celebrate our businesses new and old. We’d like this section to grow to highlight any business celebrating its 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th etc. anniversary each month.
Do you, or a business owner you know, want to be included in our upcoming Grand Openings and Anniversaries sections? Shoot Tom Dixon, City of Cañon City Small Business Manager, an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the month and year your business started so we can add your date to our calendar and be sure to include you when your anniversary arrives!
New marketing opportunity open to Cañon City retailers and restaurants
In 2020, the City of Cañon City purchased a powerful new marketing tool from customer analytics giant Buxton. The tool is called SCOUT. SCOUT provides access to household-level data to help businesses target core customers.
City of Cañon City’s economic development manager Rick Harrmann is using SCOUT to attract new businesses that fit our community. However, the same analytics can be used to help our local businesses expand their market through digital advertising.
Who it’s for
Buxton’s analytics rely on mobile phone and credit card data to build customer profiles. That makes retail and restaurants with physical brick and mortar locations the best fit for this program. However, we have general trade area data for Cañon City that may help you dial in your business model.
How it works
Buxton and city representatives will sit down with you to talk about your goals for a marketing campaign – you may want to highlight a specific sale, increase awareness of your business, or drive past customers back to your store. Using SCOUT, we will take a deep dive into who your customers are – who they are, how they communicate, and what their buying habits are. Next, you will bring the wording and the images you want to use in your advertising. Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we have some materials that can help get you started, and we’re happy to help provide some ideas. Buxton will take your copy and images and place your ads where you want them – Facebook, Instagram, banner ads, or emails. The minimum ad buy is $750, but you can work together with up to four businesses to split that cost. That brings your minimum advertising buy to $150.
Fremont Provisions unveils new awning
Fremont Provisions revealed a new facelift for the Annex Building at 507 Main Street. The classic black- and white-striped awning adds a great look downtown. The new in-house dining and catering venue plans to purchase products from local farmers and artisans when it opens later this year.
Though Fremont Provisions did not use a Façade Grant to add uplighting or upgrade the awning on its building, the new façade offers an opportunity to remind business and building owners downtown about this grant.
The Building Façade Improvement Grant program offers a matching grant of up to $2,000 to help a business owner or property owner improve the street-facing exterior of a building in the city’s historic downtown district. Cañon City Council created the program in fall 2019. About $20,000 is set aside for building facelifts. Some of the exterior upgrade improvements eligible under the grant program including paint, gutters, awnings, display window lighting, exterior lighting, and permanent bike racks.
Want to learn more? Email City of Cañon City Small Business Manager Tom Dixon at email@example.com.
New preservation program to help revitalize historic properties
A new historic preservation program has unleashed high demand to list a number of local buildings and open access to federal funding and tax credit opportunities in Cañon City.
The Certified Local Government designation allows the city’s Historic Preservation Commission to list historic properties as local landmarks. The first two projects seeking that designation are the Fremont County National Bank and St. Scholastica. The designation unlocks new funding options for both projects.
The Fremont County National Bank is one of the oldest financial institutions in Colorado, and will be the future headquarters of Tezak Heavy Construction. The St. Scholastica site has been part of the Cañon City community for more than a century. That project will blend commercial and residential space and help rejuvenate a neighborhood in the original part of the city.
The Historic Preservation Commission will consider the St. Scholastica’s application to become a locally-designated historic building and site. on Jan. 27. If they recommend the building and site, it will go to two readings before the City Council for final approval. City Council will consider both St. Scholastica and Fremont County National Bank applications during its February meetings.
“Cañon City has many historical resources,” said Lisa Studts, director of the Royal Gorge Regional Museum & History Center. “I can’t wait to see some of these resources formally acknowledged for their contribution to the history of this community.” Historic buildings preserve Cañon City’s character and culture. The reuse and adaption of those buildings is also a cost-effective way to encourage new development, diversify city revenues and rejuvenate the community.