Not everyone thinks it’s a bad time to go into business

BARTENDER MIKE McKINNON delivers an order at Smuggler’s Brew Pub at Mesa Mall, one of the recently opened business in the Grand Valley.

Several recently opened small businesses are thriving despite the recession.

Those business owners suggest observing needs, planning carefully and providing great customer service are keys to success.

The balcony seating overlooking the interior bar area of Smuggler’s Brew Pub, 2412 U.S. Highway 6&50, was booked on a recent Saturday night for a full party of people.

It didn’t take long for people to start booking it, said Scott Strong, manager of the restaurant that has been seeing a steady stream of business since opening in November.

“I would say the numbers have been strong and that they’re pretty close to what we’re shooting for,” Strong said. “If you’re doing a good job, you’ll do fine in business. We watch the increase of food prices, cost of labor closely.”

Strong said observing entertainment needs has helped in setting up a weekly Wednesday live music night. The venue is booked through February.

Dawn O’Grady, owner of Doohickeys & Dinosaurs in Fruita, 127 E. Aspen Ave. in Fruita, opened her toy store about five weeks before Christmas.

To cope with retail slowing after the holidays, she has a number of things planned, including keeping prices “honest,” keeping expenses down and adding children’s consignment furniture,
teacher supplies and baby-shower gifts at low prices.

“Just because I’m a small store doesn’t mean I have very high prices,” O’Grady said. “A lot of people have that misconception. I keep my focus on buying good, quality items for the store, but not expensive items.”

She plans to have a children’s DVD swap in which people who bring in a working DVD can get a dollar credit toward buying other DVDs or compact discs she will sell for about $2.

She also is setting up a child’s play area in the store and is scheduling activity nights for children between infant age and 6 years old, providing entertainment such as magic shows and clowns.

Teresa Waller, owner of La Belle Ami Day Spa & Salon, 344 Main St., staffs more workers on the days her client numbers tend to be higher.

“We’re doing considerably well,” said Waller, who opened her business during the summer. “I’m hoping it continues. We’re trying to run specials and just have outstanding customer service.”

Her advice to small businesses opening during the recession?

“Just keep your head up. The best customer service you can provide is really going to keep you ahead of everyone else,” she said.


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