Business of fun picks up around town
In the past nine months, local entrepreneurs opened at least four new businesses premised on increasing demand for recreational activities in Grand Junction.
The latest to enter the fray, a family from Nebraska — Dave Herek, a former plumbing contractor from Omaha, Neb., his wife, Doria, and their son, Paul — who basically invested their life savings to open Volleys at 1130 N. Third St. free of debt.
The new food and entertainment venue hosted a grand opening celebration Saturday with plenty of smoky barbecue, adult beverages and iffy weather.
Herek saw promise in his son Paul’s idea for a seasonal business based on volleyball, barbecue and beer.
The family worked 60 to 80 hours a week since November to convert the former hockey rink, which was surrounded by stretches of asphalt, into an inviting beachscape with four regulation volleyball courts and tons of warm sand, at least when the weather cooperates, Paul Herek said.
A shiny, new kitchen will be the place where Dave Herek prepares his own recipe for smoky, dry-rub ribs that register flavor somewhere west of Nashville Tenn., and east of Kansas City, Mo.
Volleys is promoting several leagues for the summer and plans to stay open eight months out of the year, Herek said.
“It’s intended to be a fun day out where people can go play sand volleyball with friends, have a few drinks and some delicious smoked barbecue,” co-owner Doria Herek said.
The Hereks and other local, opportunity-minded entrepreneurs are banking on one of the few economic trends in Colorado that saw consistent gains throughout the Great Recession.
Two separate studies by Colorado College and the Colorado Tourism Office recorded a constant growth in spending on recreation and attractions in Colorado of between 2 percent and 3 percent for the past several years, despite the upheaval in other economic sectors.
A third study pointed to the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado to demonstrate the trend. The challenge, which winds through the mountains of Colorado, reported more than $83.5 million in local economic impact during the one-week duration of the event. More than a million spectators lined the roads, according to the Outdoor Industry Association, a trade group.
If the trend seems clear, the future for proliferating attractions in a sparsely populated rural area like Grand Junction, even one as beautiful as the Grand Valley, seems less so.
Brian Limper, general manager at Bananas Fun Park, which celebrates 10 years in operation this month, said the trend is healthy because it helps his operations stay focused on what it does best.
“At some point, though, you have to wonder if the market is getting saturated,” Limper said.
At Spin City, 2445 F 3/8 Road, disco, glow-in-the-dark and any number of themed bowling events are just part of a broader entertainment experience that includes roller skating and arcade games, founder and owner Jon Labrum told The Daily Sentinel in August.
The former GJ Scores bowling alley north of Mesa Mall sold to Family Entertainment Holdings in May for $1.85 million and opened as Spin City in September. Labrum said he planned to hire as many as 60 people during peak season.
The Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce recognized Labrum as 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year.
Glacier Ice Arena, 2515 Riverside Parkway, reopened in November after lying dormant for more than three years.
Colorado Mesa University and ice lovers across the community long wanted to see the ice rink open back up, city officials told co-owners Alan and Robbie Koos at the end of September, according to reports.
Koos said he settled a lawsuit with contractors over faulty refrigeration equipment to secure the capital he and his wife needed to re-open the rink.
In December, Martha and Joe White announced the start of one new business and the relocation of another. The Whites bought the silo, warehouse and retail space at 715 S. Seventh St. to launch Silo Adventure Center.
The former home of Mesa Feed Mart now features 20,000 square feet of floor-to-wall indoor trampolines, a foam pit and a jousting balance beam. The new business opened Friday.
White leveraged money from a severance package he earned during his time as a globe-traveling mining engineer to construct the center, an idea that came to him when visiting similar trampoline parks while on vacation with his family.
“It came time to try something different,” White said. “I saw the potential,” especially after speaking to the owner of a trampoline park in Tucson, who helped him formulate his business plan.
Training at the Business Incubator Center helped White navigate the various government permits he needed to open. Alpine Bank and the center both helped with financing.
White plans to hire 13 employees.