Locals 2012: Eric Dorris
June 29, 2012
When artist and local businessman Eric Dorris first rolled into Steamboat Springs in July 1992, the college grad planned to stay through winter. That was 20 years ago.
After a summer playing rugby and a winter on the mountain, all intentions to study law melted with the snow. He opted for a career in retail, powder mornings and Cow Pie Classic-filled rugby seasons.
During the next 12 years, he ran more than 30 resort-based retail stores across the country and met his Steamboat-raised wife, Jodi. After the birth of their first son, Tate, in 2002, followed by Quinn the next year, the entrepreneurial duo started cleaning firm Yampa Valley Services and, a year later, bought Central Park Laundromat.
Constantly seeking commercial opportunities, Eric was approached about reopening Space Station in 2009. Both were excited about turning the corner of Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue into an inviting downtown hub. Today, the busy convenience store employs eight people and houses Jeff and Danielle Hubler's 7th Street Liquor and Tacos del Barco. Eric prides himself on providing friendly service and selling local products. He also is proud of the framed Cow Pie on display. "It's a real talking point for visitors," he says. So are the "I've Got Gas" Space Station T-shirts worn by locals and visitors.
This summer, Eric will pump gas south of the valley, too. He will reopen the Oak Creek gas station, after buying it in April. Once again, he is anxious to create a welcome pit stop for those needing more than gas or a gallon of milk.
While busy running four businesses, his real passion is art. The son of a Taos, N.M.-based artist, Eric inherited his mother's creative spirit, now focusing on sculpture. When he was 4, his mom salvaged 10 rounds from a black walnut tree in their Tennessee yard. Nine moves and three states later, that wood still sits in Eric's workshop.
Coy about his talent, he succumbed to two exhibits several years ago and sold his first sculptures. His work is an abstract interpretation of the human body. When asked about inspiration, he says, "I guess it began when Jodi was pregnant with Tate." His first stone carving just left town for New Mexico.
The busy father also can be found at the rink assisting his sons' youth hockey teams, riding the Yampa River Core Trail with his family or working out at Manic Training. That is, if he's not watching rugby.
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