Street Smarts: Small Business is a Big Deal in Colorado Springs
Do you shop local? Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of your favorite small business? We ask local owners to share their thoughts on running a small business in the Springs — and to provide a bit of the practical wisdom they’ve gained from their experience.
- Sparrow Hawk Cookware
Sam Eppley owns Sparrow Hawk Cookware in downtown Colorado Springs.
What are some of the challenges in running a small business in Colorado Springs? As a retailer, and this is not just Colorado Springs, it’s the fact that so much of the running of a business is turning into a 24/7 operation. Thirty-nine years ago, those kinds of hours weren’t expected. You could close on a holiday or a Sunday and it would be fine. With a small family business, it’s harder to do that.
Do you think Colorado Springs is small business-friendly? Yes, I do. The business environment is not too expensive to open or run a business in. There are open spaces you can rent throughout the city that are not killer in cost. That gives more opportunity to smaller businesses looking to start up here.
Could the city do more to support small business specifically? I think the city does do a good job overall. They do have to be careful with increases to sales tax. They have competition from other cities and online stores, and customers can be driven to those options by increased costs.
Is there a recipe for success in running a small business? Yes. Set your goals and stick to them. You’re going to have your ups and downs, but if you have goals to focus on, you’ll come out all right.
- Pink Cadillac Boutique
Lisa Harrington owns Pink Cadillac Boutique in Old Colorado City.
What are some of the challenges in running a small business in Colorado Springs? In the retail industry in particular, it’s constantly rotating new styles and inventory. Everything has to be fresh and new.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself before opening your business? I would give myself more time. We closed on our property on June 10 and we opened August 1. Opening included performing some pretty extensive renovations, so we were up all night before we opened trying to get everything out and looking pretty.
Could the city do more to support small business specifically? I think the city could do more to reach out to businesses beyond the downtown area. We’re lucky here in Old Colorado City because we have the Old Colorado City Merchants Association which is really supportive of us here. But there are lots of businesses further out that I think could be better represented.
Would you ever consider selling your business or being absorbed into a larger corporation? Not in a million years. I always tell everyone that there are two things that aren’t for sale: the Cadillac and the business … and the cat. The boutique cat is not for sale, either.
Is there a recipe for success in running a small business? I think the one recipe that would be consistent in any business, in any industry, would be to gear your service and products toward your customers. You have to constantly evolve to cater to your clientele.
- Red Leg Brewing Company
Todd Baldwin owns Red Leg Brewing Company in the Garden of the Gods area.
What are some of the challenges in running a small business in Colorado Springs? For any business, anywhere, it’s getting started and getting your name out. Getting through that initial start-up phase and making sure you have enough capital to launch the business and keep it running. I take care of 11 employees and their families and I take that responsibility very seriously.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself before starting your business? I started by looking for a traditional source of lending — seeking loans from big banks. Looking back, I wish I would have gone with a local bank. I would seek support from a local partner, someone more invested in the community and helping small businesses grow.
Do you think Colorado Springs is small business-friendly? Yes. Over the last several years, I think the climate has changed. You see a lot more focus on buying local, which is important when you are a small business. For my brewery, we rely completely on the support of the local community. And I think the community is very proud of all of its small businesses.
Could the city of Colorado Springs do more to support small business specifically? I think the city could create a little more clarity and continuity around the organizations that are in place to support us.
Would you ever consider selling your business or being absorbed into a larger corporation? No, not at this time. I’m having way too much fun. I’ve been super lucky to have a great team and a great community that supports our brand and the mission of Red Leg. I really have no idea what I would do if I didn’t do this — it’s a ball.