Steamboat Springs What Steamboat Log and Design owners Tim Hanes, 25, Troy May, 29, and Mason Gray, 30, lack in business experience they make up for in determination.
The three opened their store specializing in custom, handcrafted furniture on July 28. Even before the opening, they received encouragement from customers and passers-by.
"People are supportive," Gray said. "They're really great. They come by and say they wish they'd combined their passions with work when they were our ages."
Hanes and May began scraping together business ideas about two years ago when May was working for a local furniture retailer and Hanes was stripping and preparing logs for a local builder.
"Our first tools were a draw-knife and a drill. It took us about a month to build the first bed," May said. "We put a lot of thought into it. We certainly thought about giving up. But we stuck to it. Now we have a full-fledged, high-speed shop. We've kind of worked our way up."
Opening a small business in Steamboat is no small feat, as longtime retailers know only too well.
Patty Lindley, who moved here in 1955 and whose husband owned a sporting goods store on Lincoln Avenue, has seen a lot of businesses come and go.
"People who came here early on and own their property have it a little easier. For newer people, rent, cost of utilities, cost of living in Steamboat it all adds up and makes making it tough," she said.
But Hanes, May and Gray were not put off by the challenges they faced, one of which was finding an affordable place from which to start selling.
"We feel really fortunate to have found the place we did, because it's so difficult getting started here," Gray said.
Steamboat Log and Design is at 837A Lincoln Ave. where Steamboat Custom Jewelers used to be.
"It's the perfect place for it," Gray added.
Frustrated with the expensive overhead in most areas downtown, the three took advantage of a unique opportunity when they heard High Country Furniture was moving from its Lincoln Avenue location to the old Fair Exchange building on Eighth Street.
Finding retail space was certainly not the only challenge. Setting up a Web site and getting hooked into e-commerce will end up costing the new business about $12,000.
Gray said it took a little blood, sweat and tears over the past six months to pull everything together. From the beginning, the three have made a strong effort to work with local materials and products. At this point, at least 90 percent of the beds, dressers, lamps, tables, couches, and custom-pieces are made from Routt County products and by local artists.
"Everything is totally hand-crafted and local. This is unique to Steamboat," Gray said.
Hanes and May even gather the aspen with which they build.
"It's the most fun part of the process," May said. "We don't just harvest the wood, we hunt for it. The two of us hand-pick every log."