A time-honored tradition of small businesses is local vendors who with the help of a table or trailer transport their wares directly to the people to win customers one pizza, bar of soap or bowl of gumbo at a time.
Though Allen and Diana Haun originally ran their Cajun cafe out of a storefront in Arlington, Texas, when they moved to Dolores in the fall of 2008, they opted to run The Jambalaya out of a 8- by 16-foot indigo blue trailer for the lower overhead costs and versatility.
In the trailer, Allen cooks up homemade crawfish ettoufe, gumbo, po boys, meat pies and bread pudding, also frying up hush puppies to dip in remoulade sauce.
Everybodys idea of spicy is different, so we let them taste most things we have, so theyll know if they like it, Diana said, adding they prefer their semi-stationary spot in Dolores, at Fourth Street and Colorado Highway 145.
It gives us the opportunity to build a rapport with our customers not rushing them through a line at the bigger festivals, she said.
Diana bakes the buttermilk pies and raspberry bars they serve from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. While the pair catered local events and traveled to the Montezuma County Fair last year, they turned down a slot for this years Telluride Blues & Brews Festival.
Even though its mobile, its not as easy to move as you may think, she said. We have our insurance, health and town certificates (for Dolores and Montezuma County), but every county you go to requires a different certificate, plus its a $1,000 fee just to be there.
At the other end of the mobile spectrum is AZ Woodfired Pizza, owned by Terry Schupp of Mancos. His self-proclaimed hobby gets him out of the house more, though he knows a man in California who supports his family cooking the same wood-fired pizzas he makes.
I quit working three years ago, and after the first year, I was getting a little stir crazy; so my wife encouraged me to do something, he said.
Schupp said his business has given him the opportunity to attend events he might not normally go to, such as the Rhythm and Soul Festival in June in Mancos.
Underneath my normal, structured life I probably wouldnt have attended that, he said. So its opened other doors for me, but I havent done this even a year, so Im still learning the ropes of doing the vendor business.
Some of the lessons learned include avoiding the bigger, longer events, which require more space for refrigeration than Schupp has for the variety of ingredients he uses on his homemade crusts, such as green chile, sundried tomatoes, roasted garlic, mushrooms and pepperoni.
Ive learned I cant do big events that go for many days because of the logistics of maintaining the food, he said.
Schupp said he enjoys the smaller festivals such as Mancos Days, which was July 23-25 this year.
I like to cook, and I was in sales before, so I like that interchange between myself and individuals; I enjoy that atmosphere, he said. Ive also learned that farmers markets allow me to keep the ingredients fresh, and one- or two-day events that are close to home work out well.
Sue House and Scott Carlstrom of Jackson Lake enjoy marketing their homemade skin-care products at local farmers markets, events and fairs, but find the bulk of their orders come from other local business owners who carry Singing River Farms products in their stores.
After we perfected our formulas, we decided to do a show at Mancos Days last year, Sue said. It took about a year to perfect our formula.
Out of that show we got five stores that wanted to sell our products. Im really not a sales person, so we figured if this is going to fly, then people need to come to us. It happened the way we wanted it to happen.
Sue said they have been busy keeping up with demand ever since, stocking their aromatic soaps, lip balm, lotion, salves and face cream made with local, fresh goat milk to Montezuma County businesses such as Zuma Natural Foods in Mancos and Picaya Home Furnishing & Decor and Cowboy Trading Post in Cortez, in addition to Durango and Pagosa Springs businesses.
Weve been expanding in the house weve gone from filling the guest room and shelves in the laundry room to a curing rack in the dining room, she said, adding they sold more than 1,500 bars of soap over Christmas alone.
Besides the regular range of soaps they carry, such as hunting camp soaps for men, with natural scents such as cedar and woodland sage to help hunters blend into their surroundings, they have expanded to craft specialty soaps for individual businesses. These include hemp soap for local medical marijuana dispensaries for the skin-conditioning effects, a Pagosa Springs soap made with Pagosa Hot Springs water for Coyote Janes Trading Post and a Zuma Natural Foods soap in Mancos.
Theyve always used wheat as a sign of abundance as part of their logo, so they wanted ground wheat in it, with a lemongrass scent, Sue said. Zuma distributes their soaps to various hotels and bed and breakfasts, with a 10 percent discount tucked inside the label, to bring people to the store.
She already carries all of our soaps, so people can come in and buy more soap, but this is an investment for her, too people try the soap, see the coupon and come in to the store to buy Zumas products, she said, adding they also supply other soaps to Budget Inn in Cortez and Echo Basin Ranch. Its been a good way to up our soap sales, but also up the local business sales because its getting more people in their doors.