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Biz Buzz:
New owners for 70-year garden center

       There's a new generation of owners for the venerable Rick's Garden Center, 1827 W. Uintah St.

In its 70th year, Rick's Garden Center will continue to be family-owned and operated. At left are outgoing owners Mike and Gail Estes; at right are new owners Dan and Jeana Hopper. The photo was taken near the store's entrance off Uintah Street.
Westside Pioneer photo

       Dan and Jeana Hopper recently purchased the business, which consists of a store and nursery on close to 3 acres southeast of Uintah and 19th streets.
       Previous owners Mike and Gail Estes had bought the store in 1985, then the neighboring nursery in 2013, which consolidated two long-time “Rick's” operations into one.
       Garden-related commercial activities at the site date back to 1948, when Rick Richner started the nursery. Decades have passed since anyone named “Rick” has been an owner, but Jeana said she and Dan view Mike and Gail as the successors to the original owners, by staying family-owned and keeping close ties to the Westside community.
       “We want to continue the tradition to a third generation,” she said.
       The Hoppers, who moved to the Springs from Durango five years ago, had previously worked in separate types of enterprises, but were looking to own a business together.
       Meanwhile Mike and Gail were quietly putting Rick's on the market. In fact, Mike revealed, they had been thinking about retirement even before the opportunity arose to combine the store and nursery. Going into 2018, his personal time investment totalled 41 years, considering that he had been a Rick's employee for eight years before he and Gail bought the center in '85.
       “We were winding down,” he said of their mindset before the consolidation, “but when we added the other business [the nursery], it worked the other way.”
       Quipped Gail, “It was interfering with my golf game.”
       So once they had the expanded Rick's running the way they liked, the timing finally seemed right to sell.
       Before meeting Mike and Gail, Dan and Jeana had researched other established businesses on the market. They found what they liked at Rick's. “It's pretty apparent this is a quality business that's well run,” Dan summarized.
       The Hoppers are not planning any major changes, at least not until they've had more time to get situated. “We just want to see it grow,” Jeana said, “and keep the same feel and quality of service.”
       Long-time OCC store relocates
       The Mountain Man Nut & Fruit Co., a business in Old Colorado City since 1998, has relocated to 2514 W. Colorado Ave., Ste. 103.
       The storefront is next to the sidewalk, unlike the former location in the 2600 block's Old Colorado Square commercial center, where the entrance was set back about 100 feet from the avenue.
       Bob Lantzy, who has owned the snack shop for the past three years, said the new positioning provides “better exposure to more customers.”
       In addition, he noted, there's ample parking (a public parking lot is just north of the 2500 block) and the site has more space.
       “We wanted to stay in Old Colorado City,” he explained. “It has a great environment for business.”
       Open daily, Mountain Man offerings include natural and roasted nuts, dried fruit and snack mixes.
       Novelties, food at new OCC shop
       A throwback novelty/gift store has opened at 2423 W. Colorado Ave.
       According to owner Sherri Steinert, Spark's Five and Dime evokes the tradition established by her grandmother Audrey's business nearly 50 years ago in Elmore City, Oklahoma.
       The products at Spark's Five and Dime include souvenirs, toys, novelties, lotions, artwork, chocolates, candy, sauces, jams and artisan cheeses. Tastings of some food items are offered.
       The business is open daily. The phone is 816-489-0984.
       As for the location choice, “Old Colorado City has the perfect ambience for our store,” Sherri said. “You know, good and bad. We embrace the history of brothels, underground tunnels and the Colorado dreams of our pioneers.”

Westside Pioneer article